Carpenter Bee Sting: How to Treat and Prevent

Carpenter Bees are small insects with long legs and antennae. They have yellowish brown bodies, black heads, white thoraxes (tail) and two pairs of wings. Carpenter bees are common in the southern United States. Their nests are built on trees or other structures such as rocks or wooden stakes. These insects lay their eggs inside hollowed out tree trunks, logs, dead leaves and grass clippings. When the larvae hatch they feed on sap from these materials. Carpenter bees are not considered pests because they do not bite humans or animals. However, when disturbed, they may sting causing minor pain but no lasting damage. Carpenter bees are most active during the day and tend to fly away after dusk. They prefer moist areas such as under stones and wood chips, in crevices between bark layers and in cracks in buildings. Carpenter bees are usually found near flowers and fruit trees. Carpenter bees will often build their nests in cavities underneath flower petals or around the base of fruits. If you encounter a nest, it is best to leave them alone since they don’t pose any harm to your health. You can help protect yourself from Carpenter Bees by keeping a watchful eye on your home and garden for signs of nesting activity.

A carpenter bee’s sting is not fatal to humans, although it does cause pain and swelling. People who are allergic to bee stings, may suffer an allergic reaction to a carpenter bee sting. If you notice a nest of carpenter bees on your property, do not destroy it.

These bees are very beneficial as they feed on wood-boring insects which damage property.

The best way to avoid a carpenter bee sting is to stay away from their nests. If you must walk near a nest, do so early in the morning when bees are less active. Do not wear brightly colored clothing as bees are attracted to the color.

Also, avoid wearing perfume and other scents as carpenter bees are attracted to these as well. If you do get stung, seek medical attention if you are allergic to bee stings or experience difficulty breathing or chest pains. In most cases a carpenter bee sting should heal within a few days.

The most important thing you can do to prevent getting stung by bees is to avoid places where they make their home or nest. This includes flowers where they may be collecting nectar or fruit trees where they gather pollen. Also, you should be aware of any rotting logs or other damp wood where they may have made a nest.

Another good defense is to wear clothing that covers as much of the body as possible since bees are less likely to target areas that are not exposed. Also, avoid using scented soaps, shampoos or other personal care products as these can attract bees. If you do get stung by a bee, do not panic and do not scrape off the stinger. Instead, apply a cool compress to the area and if symptoms persist seek medical attention immediately.

Sources & references used in this article:

Allergens in hymenoptera venom XII: how much protein is in a sting by DR Hoffman, RS Jacobson – Ann Allergy, 1984 – researchgate.net

Recognition, management, and prevention of hymenopteran stings and allergic reactions in travelers by JH Diaz – Journal of travel medicine, 2009 – academic.oup.com

Carpenter Bees by NN Troxclair, ME Merchant – Texas FARMER Collection, 2001 – oaktrust.library.tamu.edu

Carpenter Bees by NL Breisch, TA Horner, CE Mall, BL Thorne – 1998 – drum.lib.umd.edu

Carpenter Bee Trap Evaluation by M Frye, J Gangloff-Kaufmann – 2016 – ecommons.cornell.edu