All the Buzz about Carpenter Bees & Wooden Swingsets

If you want to provide your children with a safe and stimulating environment, a Woodplay wooden swing set is the most valuable purchase you can make. Encouraging backyard play is one of the greatest health benefits you can do for your children, developing a healthy attitude about maintaining an energetic lifestyle, while providing fresh air and safety. When purchasing a swing set, you should opt for a wooden one, because it adds a more natural feel, and it will last longer. Woodplay is dedicated to producing the finest outdoor quality playsets for you and your family. 

In addition to kids, you can also expect carpenter bees to join in on the backyard fun if you install a wooden swing set. Carpenter Bees are just as fond of Cedar as you are even though Cedar is top-quality wood for outdoor play sets! The good news is that you do not have to worry! To help you control these bees and prevent damage to your investment, we have just the tips you need.

What are carpenter bees?

Carpenter bees are large yellow and black bees that resemble bumblebees, but have a large, shiny, solid black abdomen instead of a fuzzy one. Males do not have stingers, so they cannot sting. However, they will defend the tunnels that females dug in the wood, and dive if humans get too close. Despite their annoying nature, these creatures cannot harm you. While females have stingers, they usually stay within the tunnels they have drilled. Carpenter bees are typically not aggressive unless disturbed.

What are the signs of a carpenter bee wood infestation?

Typically, Carpenter bees dig their nests in swing sets made from wood such as cedar or redwood. Although they do dig into wood, carpenter bees will not steadily destroy your swing set like termites or carpenter ants might. If damaged areas are left untreated and worsen over the years, your swing set will become weakened. A few things to watch for:

Holes: There are usually holes going into the wood for about an inch, followed by a tunnel following the wood grain for about six more inches. There may be smaller tunnels as well.

Sawdust: It is common to see sawdust at the edge of these holes, or even on the ground, after the bee’s drill into them.

Scraping sounds: You'll hear the carpenter bees scraping as they build their tunnels and nests if you get close enough. It is not your imagination, nor do you need to get your hearing checked. 

What damage can carpenter bees cause?

When left unattended, these tiny holes in your wood can lead to a wide range of problems, including mold, termites, and rotting. The amount of damage can vary depending on whether you have a full-blown infestation and how long the bees have been at it. 

Structural Damage: To make a swing set dangerous, you would need a lot of tunnels, but wood can deteriorate over time.  

Stains: There is no indoor plumbing in carpenter bee nests, so all their feces end up absorbing into the wood, leaving stains behind.

Woodpeckers: Insect-eating birds are drawn to the sound of bees nesting and larvae. These birds can cause much more serious damage.

How to protect wood from carpenter bees

Now that we have covered what the presence of carpenter bees looks like and the kind of damage they can cause, let’s talk about how to protect wood from carpenter bees and evict them from their homes. 

Treating the wood: Treated wood is not an attractive home for a nest and is harder to burrow into and tunnel, which is why some sort of barrier is essential. This is especially important for the favorite nesting ground of carpenter bees—softwoods. These include pine, redwood, cedar, and cypress. Stains and varnishes can be ample but do not offer the same level of protection as a sealing primer.

Sealing cracks and crevices: Make your wooden swing set a less inviting place for carpenter bees to call home from the start by filling in holes such as cracks, splinters, nail holes, and any other crevice with caulking or putty. 

How to get rid of carpenter bees

Fill in holes + apply pesticide: First clear the hole/tunnels, then spray pesticide (any bee or hornet spray) into the hole and at/around the entrance. The following day, plug the hole with a durable wood putty so no new bees will enter.

How to prevent carpenter bees

When it comes to prevention, unfortunately, there are not many sure things you will be able to do. Cedar is an especially soft wood that Carpenter Bees look for. Having a protective coating or finish on your wood swing set may lessen the number of bees that come your way. As a bonus, a sealant can help to protect wood from UV rays and rain. Please reach out to your local dealer to acquire stain/sealant and further assistance.

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