Carpenter Bee

Actual Size: ½ to 1”

Characteristics: Large, black, and yellow; shiny hairless abdomen

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Females burrow deep into soft wood to deposit their eggs. These bees do not build nests.


  • Do not live in colonies or nests like other bees.
  • Can cause significant damage by boring into decaying or weathered wood.
  • Male carpenter bees are very aggressive but lack a stinger.

Carpenter Bees in Memphis TN Metro Area

Carpenter bees earned their name due to their unique behavior of burrowing into wood and constructing chambers for their offspring. They share the title of being the largest native bees in the United States with bumblebee queens. Carpenter bees are present in various regions of the southern United States, including our very own Memphis TN Metro Area. Unlike termites, carpenter bees do not consume wood as food. However, they can cause structural damage by creating tunnels within dry and weathered lumber, leading to potential issues with the integrity of wooden structures.

Carpenter Bee Habitat

Carpenter bees are solitary insects and establish individual nests in various locations such as trees, eaves, or the sides of structures. During the winter, both male and female bees remain inside old nest tunnels, emerging in the spring for mating. The female, after mating, carefully selects a suitable piece of wood to construct her nest, while the male spends most of his time near potential nesting sites.

Using her mandibles, the female carves a gallery within the wood, furnishes the nest with a mixture of pollen and regurgitated nectar known as “bee bread,” deposits an egg, and seals the cell using chewed wood pulp. Detecting a carpenter bee infestation often involves observing a significant amount of sawdust and pollen on the ground beneath the area where the bees have chewed and excavated.

Carpenter Bee Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Female carpenter bees are generally not aggressive, but they will sting if provoked. If someone who is allergic to bee venom is stung by a carpenter bee, immediate medical attention is necessary. On the other hand, male carpenter bees do not possess a stinger, but they can display defensive behavior when it comes to protecting their nest.

While carpenter bees can play a beneficial role as pollinators, they can also cause significant damage to structures. They have a tendency to target windowsills, wooden siding, decks, railings, outdoor furniture, and fences. While the individual damage caused by a single carpenter bee’s excavation may be minor, the cumulative impact of numerous bees over many years can result in substantial destruction.

If you suspect a carpenter bee infestation, it is advisable to contact bee control professional.