Evaluating the Efficacy of Carpenter Bee Traps


2016 to 2018


Carpenter bees are wood-destroying insects that are capable of drilling through wood to create nests. Because these insects are viewed as pests, they are often controlled by pest professionals with insecticide dusts. The goal of this project was to evaluate the use of homemade carpenter bee traps to reduce the population of female carpenter bees, which are responsible for causing the damage to wood. Twelve traps were set out at six sites with current carpenter be damage, and collected 54 carpenter bees: 21 males and 33 females. In addition to carpenter bees, a number of other arthropods were captured in traps, suggesting a lack of specificity. It is possible that removing traps after a certain time frame will avoid non-target effects.


Structural damage from carpenter bee drilling can weaken wood or cause aesthetic damage, requiring replacement. In addition, fear of stinging insects can cause homeowners to take drastic measures despite the fact that female carpenter bees seldom sting, and aggressive males are essentially harmless. This project was undertaken to test whether a chemical-free trap could be used to capture carpenter bee females that both impose the damage to wood and also reproduce.


Twelve carpenter bee traps were made from a 4” X 4” block of wood and two recycled soda bottles. Specifications for traps designs can be found on the Internet that include the dimensions of openings drilled into the blocks to imitate carpenter bee nest cavities. Traps were placed at six locations and collected insects were identified and counted weekly.


This project demonstrated that non-chemical traps can be used to harvest carpenter bees. A total of 54 carpenter bees were collected across the six sites, but one site accounted for 27, or half of the bees. At this site, which had extensive and long-term damage, 17 females and 10 males were collected. The homeowner indicated that activity of carpenter bees was dramatically reduced this year, and that they intended to use the traps in subsequent years. Use of traps will reduce the amount of new damage produced, and maybe preclude the need for pesticide applications. Additional research is needed to determine if the timing of trap placement can affect the number of non-target effects. Specifically, a total of 148 arthropods that were not carpenter bees were also collected in traps. These insects are either nest in cavities or explorer openings for prey items.

Submitted by: 

  • Frye, Matthew

Researchers involved: 

  • Frye, Matthew

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • New York