Allen Norwood

Try trap, adhesive against carpenter bees

A carpenter bee sits atop a Duranta flower.
A carpenter bee sits atop a Duranta flower. AP

The bee skirmishes continue at our house – and so far the bees have battled us to a draw.

After writing about carpenter bees last week, I followed the best advice from the N.C. State University bug experts to the letter: I sprayed the holes in our wood trellis and arbor with Sevin, then stuffed the holes with aluminum foil. You’re supposed to do that, wait a day or two, then caulk the holes.

The next morning, much of the foil was on the ground, chewed into tiny bits. Looked like the sandwich wrappings from a tiny bee picnic. A few wads of foil were just shoved out whole.

There was fresh sawdust under every bee hole, a sure sign of activity.

So, back to the command bunker to plan the next attack. I bought some spray insecticide specifically for bees and tried again. This time, only half the aluminum foil was shoved out. Progress!

I launched another attack just before writing this.

I’m hopeful – but not optimistic.

At least I know that I have lots of company on the skirmish line, because readers shared stories that sound painfully familiar.

For instance, I’ve ignored the bees in the trellis at the side of the house. It’s out of the way, and not supporting anything important. The problem is, that allows the bee population to grow.

“You hit that one on the head!” Jon Hoin said in an email. “I have had the exact problem, which has multiplied each year. This year I cut wooden dowels to fit the holes. Some, they just pulled right out like an apian dentist.”

Love the line about the tiny dentist, Jon.

Here’s a tip: The foil is a lot less effort than dowels – so you won’t feel as frustrated when it doesn’t work.

Jeff Rees of Catawba offered another reason to get rid of carpenter bees, even though they’re not really a threat to sting. He said they bore into his cedar siding and lay eggs – which attracts woodpeckers that show up to dig for larvae.

He said that construction adhesive in a caulking gun is an ideal way to fill the holes. “I’ve found that using Liquid Nails is a much better deterrent than regular caulking, and gives more stability to the damaged wood, and will hold paint or stain to match the surrounding wood.”

Pat Covington of Charlotte said a trap he ordered off eBay is working. He has caught several carpenter bees. Now he’s wondering how to clean droppings from walls, and whether he should clean before painting.

I use a product called Jomax and, yes, I’d clean before painting.

By the way, you can create a homemade carpenter bee trap. You’ll find instructions and videos online. Here’s a good place to start: www.hgtvgardens.com.

Special to the Observer: homeinfo@charter.net

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