If you're noticing carpenter bees nearby your garage or deck rails, a DIY carpenter bee trap can be an effective deterrent.
We assembled a list of 9 DIY carpenter bee traps below. Scroll through the plans and choose a build that will help safeguard your home- and be a fun weekend wood project.
If you have trouble identifying these pests- these bees have smooth and shiny black abdomens- that's how you can distinguish them from bumble bees. That and the holes you begin noticing drilled into your garage, home, patio furniture, etc.
While they don't have stingers, they can still do a ton of damage- to your property. Typically they'll appear in late spring- searching out bare or even treated wood that's been significantly weathered.
They prefer nesting deep into that exposed wood- and will chew 1.5" wide holes with 3"-4" deep tunnels for egg laying.
The carpenter bees will create cells within the tunnels filled with pollen- the hatchlings feed on them and will frequently remain inside for a year. Until next spring when they emerge and repeat the same cycle.
The bad news is that unencumbered these insect populations will swell and these ugly holes will proliferate across your property's wood structures.
While a fresh coat of paint and some insecticidal can help- building a simple carpenter bee trap is another effective solution.
While you might not think bees can be a problem, over time they can destroy your barn, shed, and anything else made out of wood. You can easily prevent this by building this cage. You’ll need a mason jar, glue, ratchet wrench, plywood, and a few tools. Because this isn’t super complicated to make, power or hand tools can both easily be used. Simply cut your wood, make the sides of the box, make the bottom and jar rim, attach the eye bolt, drill a couple of holes, then hang your box outside. Using a mason jar ensures you can empty out the bugs quickly and easily.VIEW PLANS
This builder wanted to make a cage that would attract a good amount of bees but not be unattractive. Made from lumber, a plastic bottle, aluminum, and drywall screws, this effectively captures bees without disrupting your outdoor space. Bees are primarily lured in by existing small holes, so your structure can be made of lumber, plastic, metal, or whatever you have on hand. Because this was hung on the roof, the designer also crafted a tool to help empty the container. To create this, prepare your bottle to make a funnel, create the wooden frame, craft the bottom plate and attach it, then fix it to the top plate.VIEW PLANS
This DIY idea is perfect for those with little to no carpentry skills — the steps are not difficult to follow and all the details are laid out. When building the box, the designer suggests using wood that is unfinished and not pressure treated. This trap works because the bees are interested in dark spaces with holes — after they fly in, they’re attracted to the light but end up stuck inside the plastic bottle. This device is simple to make and best placed around the corners of your home. Materials needed for this project include wood glue, a saw, a power drill, electrical tape, and nails.VIEW PLANS
This trap is very inexpensive and easy to create at home. All you need are some empty water bottles, metal grommets, and scissors. This DIYer had an old tarp repair kit lying around and was able to utilize metal capture rings and a ball peen hammer. If you don’t have these tools, just find a way to neatly cut a hole in the bottle caps. Then, find a way to seamlessly connect the two — you can use a strong glue or soldering tool. This should be connected to a wooden box with holes in it, instructions for which the tutorial doesn’t include. You can either make this or purchase one from a hardware store.VIEW PLANS
This tutorial is easy to follow and lists exact measurements, making it simple to customize the dimensions. Materials required are drywall screws, wood, tape or metal grommets, bottles, and wood glue. To create this, just cut the wood and attach the pieces to form a box. Then, drill a few holes on each side and attach the bottle to the structure. Then add a lid on top, connect the bottles together, and mount this wherever you’re having problems with the bugs. This is a great way to deter bees from hanging around your house. In time, you may not even see any bugs collected at the bottom — upon seeing the dead bees, new ones will fly away and find a new home.VIEW PLANS
If you’re looking for bees to pollinate your flowers and stay away from your wood, try making this home for them. Made out of old pallets, twigs, plywood, wood glue, and a little paint, this is a great DIY project for a lazy afternoon. You’ll need to drill holes in the pallet blocks and prepare the rest of the wood for cutting. After assembling, this builder made decorative roof tiles by thinly cutting leftover pieces and nailing them to the top. All the empty space should be filled with twigs or rocks. If you’re after a more finished look, you can paint this before or after it is put together.VIEW PLANS
This DIY plan uses only four supplies but will save your treehouses, wood trim, and lawn furniture for years to come. An old 4×4, jar, wood screws, and screw eye can be made into an enclosure that can be effortlessly hung from your roof, porch, or doorway. Unlike most other DIY ideas, this doesn’t require you to make a box out of cut pieces of wood. Using a 4×4 means you can just drill three or four holes, attach the jar to the bottom, and call it a day. Of course, you’ll also need to drill a hole through the lid of the jar.VIEW PLANS
If you’re not the handiest person in the world, try following this DIY blueprint. The designer gives clear instructions and photos each step of the way. All you need to make this is an old jar, thick piece of wood, and a power drill. After drilling a hole about five inches deep, drill a few other holes on a 45-degree angle. If you don’t, the light won’t be cast at the proper angle and the trap might not work. For the best results, this builder suggests making two or three of these and hanging them all around your home. This can be made in less than half an hour and will help keep the pests away.VIEW PLANS
If you have a circular saw, some scrap lumber, screws, a container, and screw eye, you can make this snare for your bees. Simply cut holes into the wood on an angle, attach the lid of your container to the bottom, and make sure everything is secure and attached well. If you’re worried about the look of this, you can paint the wood or even sand and finish it. The bees are more interested in finding dark holes to lay their eggs, not the material they’re made out of. To empty out the trap, unscrew the body of the jar and clean it out.VIEW PLANS
According to HGTV, pre-existing nesting holes have to be eliminated and covered. You can use a bit of flexible wire, carefully thread the wire down the hole, striking the egg cells of existing nest after which drip an insecticide right into the hole.
As soon as insecticidal spraying is finished, plug the carpenter bee hole to stop further occupation.
Even though male carpenter bees can't sting, females of the species might protect their colonies in the event that they are triggered and proper care ought to be used when getting close to active nests.
There are lots of designs you can find online for constructing your own carpenter bee trap.
Some are better than others, but a majority of them depend on the same principles.
Generally half inch holes are drilled right into a wood box at an upward angle that stops sunlight from shining in. A clear bottle is connected to a hole in the bottom of the box to trap them.
We're a big fan of Reddit- below we found a thread with some practical wisdom regarding how to get rid of carpenter bees:
One beekeeper in the thread said he hates these "bumblish monsters".
He says that his kids make a game every single springtime of whacking them on his deck with badminton rackets. He fills their nesting holes in his deck with steel wool pressed in to the openings deeply using a pencil.
He says that in his old workplace, it was cedar sided swarmed filled the air around it every spring season.
The pest control man explained there seemed to be nothing he could spray on the office to protect it.
He could stand outdoors and blast them from the air, but that was it. Because they are solo borers and not nesters, each and every one killed gets rid of a generation, therefore it was and is worth the hard work, but they're back the next year. It is a battle of attrition, he says.
Overall- if you're getting these pests, an integrative approach seems best. Let us know if you build one of the plans we linked to!