How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees on Deck

It’s spring again, and you can’t help noticing the large black bees buzzing and hovering around your deck.  These are carpenter bees. Most probably, it’s the female looking for a new location to lay eggs, and if not, then it’s a male checking out a suitable female for mating.

Use vinegar, citrus oil, essential oils, and noise, or seal the wood to naturally eliminate carpenter bees on the deck. Other methods include using WD-40, carpenter bee spray, and diatomaceous. For commercial products, always read the label for precautions to avoid health risks and damage to property.

There is no need to be alarmed as the males don’t sting, and though the females do, the impact is mild. However, though harmless, they are annoying in destroying the decks and any wooden structure by drilling holes in them. They are also noisy.

Below, I explore the different ways to eliminate carpenter bees on your deck.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees on Deck

What are the signs of carpenter bees?

Carpenter bees are conspicuous and easy to identify. Look out for these signs to be sure you are dealing with carpenter bees:

  • They will buzz loudly around your deck or other wooden surfaces. They prefer soft, old, and rotten wooden structures. In the absence of softwood, they’ll attack the available wood structures.
  • Presence of circular holes the size of a small finger diameter on wooden structures such as the deck or balcony.
  • As they drill the holes, they leave a trail of sawdust. They will push the frass out as they progress with the boring to make carpenter bee nests.
  • You will spot a male carpenter bee hovering around your wooden structures. Their appearance resembles a bumblebee’s, and the outstanding feature is the shiny black lower abdomen.
  • A weakened, split wooden structure on your deck, patio, or balcony could signify carpenter bees’ infestation. Check out for holes in the broken plank of wood.

Holes drilled by the wood bees slightly exceed the size of the female bees that drill them. Therefore, look closely for these signs to be certain of their presence as you consider ways to handle them.

How to get rid of carpenter bees naturally

Since the male boring bees are harmless and the females are mildly violent, you can naturally eliminate the carpenter bees. Some of these methods differ from what you need to get bees away from your house since they’re attracted by different conditions compared to carpenter bees.

Some methods used to eliminate carpenter bees include:

1. How to get rid of carpenter bees with vinegar

Mix a strong concoction of water and vinegar and spray directly into the holes drilled by the carpenter bees. Let the mixture be more acidic. Monitor the borer bees’ reaction to the mixture. Keep at it until they all exit.

Alternatively, mix apple cider vinegar with rubbing alcohol and spray it on areas you notice carpenter bees’ activity. This will eliminate the adult bees and halt the transitioning of the larvae into adults.

2. Citrus oil spray for carpenter bees

The smell of citrus is a turn-off to carpenter bees, so you can use it to your advantage. You can use citrus fruits like lemons or oranges for this.

First, boil the slices of citrus fruit to extract the juice. Then, let it cool for a while. Finally, wet the area where the wood boring bees have been spotted with the mixture. This natural boring bee spray doesn’t have any side effects.

3. Turn up the Noise

Carpenter bees love their quiet. If you wish to get rid of them naturally, turn up that stereo and watch them leave. Ensure the proximity of your speakers is close enough to disorient them. 

The good thing with this method is that the bees will earmark the area, never to return. As such, noise works as a great wood bee deterrent.

4. Use Essential Oils

Carpenter bees, like most insects, hate scents within their territory. You can therefore get rid of them naturally by using scented essential oils.

Mix several oils such as peppermint, Clove, and Rosemary with a half cup of water to make natural carpenter bee solutions. Spray the mixture around the affected area. The strong scent will disorient them and force them to relocate, thus effectively repelling them.

5. String up Mothballs

Mothballs have a strong scent that discourages the carpenter bees from sticking around. All you have to do is hang them close to their nest, where you can find them. Prolonged exposure to the strong smell will send them into disarray, forcing them to shift.

Hanging the mothballs requires minimal effort and yields the expected results. Although the scent may die off with time. It will have served the purpose of halting the carpenter bee infestation.

6. Seal the Deck

The bees love the exposed wooden decks and structures. Paint or seal the deck to steer them away. They won’t eat away at the sealant since it’s a carpenter bee poison (it’s poisonous to most insects).

These are the best homemade remedies for carpenter bees and will work for all types of these bees and all weather conditions.

Other methods

Besides the natural methods above, the following methods are also effective at getting rid of carpenter bees:

1. How to get rid of carpenter bees with WD-40

Follow these steps when using WD-40 to get rid of the carpenter bees:

  • Spot their holes on your deck.
  • Arm yourself with protective gear. Cover your eyes and wear gloves.
  • With the long thin nozzle, spray the holes with WD-40.
  • Leave the holes sealed for a day to eliminate the bees.

When using the WD-40, spray the holes around the evening when the bees return to the nest.

2. Carpenter bee spray

The market today is full of different brands of carpenter bee spray. As you choose, check for reviews and the impact the spray could have on you and the environment.

It’s advisable to spray in the evening so the bees can be fully eliminated at night, and in case the spray affects your loved ones, they don’t get in touch with it. Carpenter bee insecticides can also be used on other insects.

3. Diatomaceous

Diatomaceous is formed when algae are fossilized and perfectly eliminates the bees. It works by tearing up the exoskeleton of the bees, killing them instantly.

Avoid exposing your skin when using diatomaceous as it poses a health risk. Carpenter bee hives rarely exist, given that carpenter bees create solitary holes. However, they might make several holes in the soft parts of the wood. On the other hand, Bees are more organized, with Langstroth beehives being among the best for them.

How to prevent carpenter bee infestation

To deter carpenter bees from infesting your deck in the future, implement the following measures:

  • Color and seal your deck in spring. As the bees hover, your covered deck will be their least interesting area as they prefer old, soft, colorless wood, as the boring will be easier.
  • Fill up old holes from last season. Drilled holes attract the carpenter bees as they no longer have to worry about the taxing work of boring into wood.
  • Properly maintain the deck. Have a solid wooden structure that doesn’t attract the carpenter bees 
  • Consider having scented ground vegetation that will distract the bees from attacking.

Carpenter bees are great for the ecosystem since they act as pollinators for plants and flowers, aiding their growth. However, they can be a menace as they’re noisy and will damage wooden parts of the house. Unlike bees which may die in the winter, carpenter bees can survive all seasons; hence the seasons won’t help you control them much.


Although they don’t sting, the male carpenter bees are territorial and will buzz loudly as the female gets busy boring holes into wood. They are a nuisance that you should eliminate fast.

You can naturally get rid of the bees to shift to other places or use more lethal ways to kill them. To secure your deck from the bees’ harm, eliminate them as soon as you discover their presence.


Clemson Cooperative Extension. Carpenter Bee Survey.

University of California. Carpenter Bees.

Johnson County. Carpenter Bees.

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