Carpenter Bee

Actual Size: ½ ” –  1”

Characteristics: Large, black and yellow; shiny hairless abdomen

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: They do not live in nests. Instead, females bore holes through soft wood to lay eggs in.


  • Carpenter bees chew perfect round holes into unpainted/unfinished wood where they will provide food for 4-5 young
  • They are solitary and do not build hives
  • Males can be aggressive, but are harmless and cannot sting as they lack a stinger

Carpenter Bees in Puerto Rico

Contrary to popular opinion, carpenter bees do not actually consume wood. Instead, these bees get their name from their habit of boring into wood, creating chambers to raise their young. Along with bumble bee queens, carpenter bees are the largest native bees in the nation. They target lumber that is dry and weathered. Here in San Juan and Ponce, they can be a problem when they start excavating wood in residential neighborhoods.

Carpenter Bee Habitat

Carpenter bees are not social insects and create individual nests in trees, eaves or sides of structures. Males and females overwinter in old nest tunnels and emerge in the spring to mate. The mated female selects a suitable piece of wood for nest construction while the male spends most of their time hovering near nest sites. The female excavates a gallery using her mandibles, furnishes her nest with “bee bread” (a mixture of pollen and regurgitated nectar), deposits an egg and closes the cell with chewed wood pulp. A carpenter bee infestation is usually detected by observing the large amount of sawdust and pollen on the ground below the area being chewed and excavated.

Carpenter Bee Behavior, Threats, or Dangers

Female carpenter bees are rarely aggressive, but will sting if provoked. If a person is stung by a carpenter bee and is allergic to bee venom, they should seek immediate medical attention. Male carpenter bees do not possess a stinger, but can be extremely defensive when protecting and defending their nest. Although carpenter bees can be helpful pollinators, they can cause significant damage to structures. Windowsills, wooden siding, decks, railings, outdoor furniture, and fences can be attacked. While the damage to wood from excavation of individual carpenter bees may be slight, the activities of numerous bees over many years can result in considerable destruction. For that reason, always contact your local bee removal experts for help with carpenter bees.