By Mila >

How To Keep Carpenter Bees Away Naturally

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I recently bought a new log cabin near a lake that my family and I will use for weekend getaways. After I bought the place, I went to see what parts of the cabin needed renovation and were surprised to find a carpenter bee nest in one side wall. I love nature and didn’t want to harm them, but they needed to go. So I wondered how to keep carpenter bees away naturally.

Sealing, painting, or varnishing wood surfaces will coat the wood in a carpenter bee-proof protective layer that lasts for months. Adding vinyl sidings to the walls is also another way to keep bees away naturally. If there is a current carpenter bee infestation, put steel wool in their nests or use a citrus oil spray.

I needed a way to treat the carpenter bee infestation out of the side wall and keep them out in the future. So I started to do more research on carpenter bee nests, and the information I found was very helpful. I wanted to share the tips and advice that worked for me and other options that are worth trying.

If you have a carpenter bee problem, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. Carpenter bees are not only a nuisance, but they can also cause serious damage to your home. If you think you might have a bee problem, the first step is to identify the type of bee that is causing it.

There are three types of bees that are commonly found in homes: carpenter bees, honey bees, and bumblebees. Each type of bee has its own unique characteristics and behaviors. Once you have identified the type of bee that is causing the problem, you can take steps to get rid of the bees naturally and prevent them from returning.

Carpenter bees are by far the most destructive to your property whereas bumble bees will usually nest in the ground. Bees are also natural pollinators and in some areas in danger of extinction, so be careful about identifying which bee species is bothering you, and try to discourage them naturally.

Where Do Carpenter Bees Nest?

Carpenter bees like to nest in the areas of a home that have exposed (untreated) softwood. They like to make nests in the sidings, fascia boards, rafters, and other unstained or untreated wood surfaces. The female carpenter bee is the one that finds nesting areas and does the damage by tunneling inside wood. They typically drill holes of around ½ inch in size.

What Do Carpenter Bees Hate The Most?

Other than coating exposed wood in paint or stain, some other suggestions include using citrus, tea tree oil, or other essential oils mixed with water in a spray bottle. You only need to take the rind of several citrus fruits such as lemon, orange, lime, and grapefruit and boil it with water on low to medium heat for around 25 minutes.

Leave the mixture to cool down and remove the rinds. Use the citrus-infused water and spray the affected areas you want to repel carpenter bees from liberally. Using this method works well because carpenter bees naturally have an aversion to citrus and other oils.

If you don’t want to use citrus, you can buy tea tree or almond oil and mix it with water in a spray bottle. To get rid of carpenter bees and other insects, these smells are the best repellent that work to keep carpenter bees naturally away.

I bought a few different 100% organic and non-toxic citrus oil cleaners that I use around the cabin. I spray it when spring starts on the inside of the cabin as I have other methods to keep them away on the outside of the cabin.

Beware of bogus deterrents advertised like sonic repeller devices. These devices emit an ultrasound frequency that is claimed to be unpleasant to the bees. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that these are false claims!

Will Painting, Staining, Or Sealing The Wood Keep Carpenter Bees Away?

This method worked best for me and my carpenter bee problem. I learned from a friend that carpenter bees won’t dig into the wood if it is protected.

I bought some varnish (Cuprinol 5 Star Complete Wood Treatment WB) as you can use it for floors, decks, and interior and exterior wood. The seal helped get rid of carpenter bees from attacking my wood deck.

How Do I Get The Carpenter Bees Out Before Painting Or Varnishing?

One way I found to keep the bees out of their nests while treating the wood was to put steel wool in all the small carpenter bee holes. After a while, they stopped coming around, but I knew it was only temporary, so I filled in the cracks and holes before using the varnish to keep them away for longer.

How Often Do I Need To Use The Oil Sprays Or Varnish?

After researching how carpenter bees lived and their life cycle, I learned that they like to return to old nesting spots each year. They typically start their spring nesting season, so I knew I had to have my defenses ready by that time each year.

According to the information, I had to restain, repaint or reapply the varnish once a year to keep it working effectively. That’s why I opted for the citrus oil spray inside the cabin. It worked best when I sprayed the citrus oil at least once or twice a week because the smell of the oil evaporates quickly.

What Will Keep Carpenter Bees Away Without Killing Them?

A friend with a wooden shed told me he used PVC sidings to keep the female carpenter bees away. He explained that the PVC (polyvinyl chloride) planks help get rid of carpenter bees as they can’t burrow through the plastic.

He attached the planks to the wooden walls to prevent carpenter bees from attacking the unfinished wood and the elements. I might invest in doing that at my cabin in the long run. He opted for white planks, while I think the natural wood look suits my cabin best. To be more sustainable I’d avoid using plastic and try to stick to other methods.

Another idea I found to help get rid of carpenter bees naturally from your walls or deck is to give them their own ‘carpenter bee house’. Try using a piece of untreated, unpainted, and unvarnished softwood like redwood, pine, or cedar as a decoy home!

You need to hang it exposed so the carpenter bees won’t have trouble finding it, but far away from the wood, you want to protect. You can add overhangs as carpenter bees like that feature in wood structures. If you find the piece of wood has a nest, you can safely remove it to a new location and add a new one in its place.

So working the angle from two sides by painting the wood area you need to protect and giving the carpenter bees a cozy new nest will ensure they stay away from your home without harming them.


When I wanted to get rid of carpenter bees in the side wall of my cabin, I had to get them out and keep them from coming back. I found the most effective natuarl repellant was to varnish the outside of the structure with an all-purpose weatherproof varnish that helped keep them out.

To remove them before treating the wood I stuffed the carpenter bee holes they bore with steel wool a few days before to get them out. I then repaired the holes and cracks before using the varnish. I hope you’ve found some of this advice useful, good luck in treating your own carpenter bee problems!