I am at the end of my rope with a bee infestation on my property. Normally I like bees, necessary little pollinators that they are, but these bees are causing literally tens of thousands of dollars in damage to my property and I can’t take it any longer.
We have a retaining wall around our property, about 10 feet high, surrounding our driveway on three sides. It is made of wooden railroad ties. About 2 years ago we started noticing perfectly circular holes appearing in places in the wood. Our neighbors swore those had always been there, they were for drainage, etc. so we didn’t think much about it. But then the holes started to multiply. After some observation on our part we determined that we had carpenter bees so we called an exterminator and he came out and dusted the holes. This did nothing. The bees still continued to cause tremendous damage. Then winter came and we though, yay, no more bees! Except the bees were apparently warm and toasty in that wall because they came back with a vengeance the next spring. So we had another exterminator out and started spraying the holes ourselves with the spray you get at the hardware store. On and on it went, us spraying and spraying but the bees never leaving.
So this year we had the wall ripped out and replaced with brand new wood and we painted the sucker from top to bottom, because apparently the bees don’t like painted wood. Then after painting we had another exterminator come back out and treat anything he could find that might indicate there were bees living in it, from tree strumps to fence posts. While the paint seems to have deterred them from boring holes directly into the front of the wall, they are now burrowing into cracks in the brand new wood and even into the dirt around the wall to get at it from the other side. We come home every day to new piles of sawdust where the bees are eating away at the wall from in between the railroad ties.
Our neighbors on either side both have untreated retaining walls with no indication of bees, so apparently it is just something about our property that is attracting them. After multiple exterminators, completely replacing the wood, and painting everything I just don’t know what to do next. Short of calling a young priest and an old priest, what else can we possibly do to get rid of these bees?
I’m missing how the bees were causing any serious damage, though. The “thousands of dollars” appears to be the cost of ripping out & replacing the wooden wall, but I don’t see WHY that needed to be done, other than you deciding it must be so.
Also, if the original problem was bees infesting the wood, replacing the wood with … MORE wood doesn’t make any sense.
So, why are the bees a problem ?
Sorry, I may not be explaining this well. The wall had to be replaced because it was buckling, and a ten foot wall of wood and dirt collapsing on our driveway is something I’d like to avoid. When we had the wall replaced we counted more than 50 holes caused by the bees over a 2 year period. We opted to replace it with more wood for two reasons, first because it was many thousands of dollars cheaper than any other option and because every other house on our street also has a retaining wall (we are on a large hill) and they are all made of the same wood. We aren’t planning to be in this house forever, so for the purpose of selling the property in the future we want to be in line with the other properties in our neighborhood, both in style and price.
We haven’t put one up yet because we sort of have them naturally around the property. I can see a tree stump in our neighbor’s yard full of bee holes and a tree stump in the other neighbor’s yard that is the same way. I guess I’m going to figure out how to build one tomorrow and see if it helps, but they do already have other places to nest where they aren’t constantly sprayed with poison and they still keep coming back, so I’m at a loss.
I’m also confused because every one of our neighbors has a similar retaining wall and none of them have bee issues. In fact, they all acted like we were nuts when we said we had a bee problem. I’ve walked up and down the block to see other people’s retaining walls and none of them have any signs of bees at all. I want to stand in the driveway and scream, “Go to Bob’s house! It’s his turn now!” but I think that might freak Bob out if he heard me trying to sic bees on him.
If you can find the nest entrances, spray something like Raid in there and putty the hole closed right away. Maybe pack the entrance with dry ice and then putty it closed, the CO[sub]2[/sub] will suffocate the little bastards. Maybe another coat of paint on the wood. Do this at night so you trap all the bees in the nest. This isn’t a one-and-done solution, you may have to go back every night for a few weeks to kill them all.
No … Don’t close the holes while the bees are active; they will just chew their way out, causing even more damage. Put long-acting poison in the holes now, then close the holes in mid to late October, when the bees go inactive for the winter and they are exposed to the poison for several months.
Here is a good choice for the poison; you will also need a duster.
Carpenter bee traps also work. I bought one from that same website and the jar filled with bees over the summer; no bait or anything in the trap … the bees are attracted to the perfect looking hole. If you’re the handy type, you can find instructions to build you own on the net.
I went through this a couple years ago – carpenter bees were destroying my carport and shed. I also treated my next door neighbors’ garages and sheds. It’s a simple process; just poof the dust in the holes, some of the bees die very quickly and the ones that don’t get an immediate dose pick up dust on their way in and out the hole and die over the winter.
Carpenter bees don’t sting, so don’t panic if one comes flying out the hole when you poof it.
It is correct that they don’t like painted wood – stain doesn’t bother them.
And yes, they destroy wooden structures, they are not just a nuisance.
ETA: messed up the duster link. It’s on that same website and is called Bellow Hand Duster.
I’ve purchased a trap from the site and I’ll look into the dust as well. I think the dust is the same thing that the exterminator uses, which so far has not proven very reliable, but it is worth trying on my own as well. Anything to get rid of these damn bees!