Introduction: Carpenter Bee Trap, Large Version

Picture of Carpenter Bee Trap, Large Version

These traps catch carpenter bees that want to attack my wooden house. The first photo shows the assembled trap, the second shows the trap in place with a bee in the capture jar. To see my related Instructables, click on my username wherever you see it on this page, or enter unclesam in the home page search box. On the new page, click "view all __ instructables." On the next new page, click "NEXT" repeatedly to page and scroll through them all.

My design is based on that of kentdvm, see his project for construction tips. His trap is hung like a lantern and has an overhanging roof. Mine needed to be attached directly to the wooden overhang of my house, high above the ground, so it did not need its own roof, but it did need to be emptied by someone standing on the ground far below. I did not have weathered wood for making the trap, so I used ordinary lumber, on the theory that the bee is lured not by the trap's wood so much as by the pre-made holes. My design for a smaller trap will appear as its own Instructable as soon as it proves it will catch bees.

Any carpenter bee trap will be more effective if the bee-made holes in the protected structure are plugged. I use a color-matching outdoor caulk.

Step 1: Plastic Parts From the Grocery Store

Picture of Plastic Parts From the Grocery Store

The capture jar is a Ziploc Medium Round Twist 'n Loc plastic container, marked 32 fl oz, 946 ml, and its lid. The jar is unique in that it has some flats molded into its sides, which allows it to be unscrewed from below by a tool made from a second identical jar.
The clear plastic funnel is cut from a Dasani brand drinking water bottle, chosen because it has a unique pinched waist ("rest mark")  that secures the funnel in the trap.

Step 2: Make the Funnel

Picture of Make the Funnel

Cut the funnel off the bottle at the place shown in this photo, just beyond where the pinched waist rolls over to become part of the long cylinder of the remainder of the bottle. I carefully cut overlong with a band saw, trimmed with scissors, then sanded off the burrs. I also cut off the threaded part of the small cap end of the funnel, for fear that it would be close enough to the bottom of the capture jar that a bee might be able to reach up to it and get out. This is probably unnecessary unless the bee has had some formal acrobatic training.

Step 3: Modify the Capture Jar and Its Lid

Picture of Modify the Capture Jar and Its Lid

Drill four weep holes in the bottom of the capture jar 3/32-inch dia, clean off burrs.
It is necessary to mark the lid completely before cutting out the center hole. Scribe a circle 1 and 5/8-inch radius on the inside of the lid, centered on the pip molded into the center of the lid. Mark for four equally spaced holes on this circle. Scribe another circle, also centered on the pip, 1 and 7/16-inch radius. Drill the four screw holes 3/16-inch dia, and match mark one of the holes. Cut out the center of the lid on the smaller scribed circle using small scissors. A pair of curved-blade fingernail scissors works great.

Step 4: The Wooden Frame

Picture of The Wooden Frame

I wanted my traps to tuck under the overhang of my roof and not look too unsightly. I intend to leave these traps in place year round because they are so high up. I also wanted the wood to be thick enough to make up-angled holes through the bottom rim of the trap as well as into its sides. This view is of the lower edge of the trap that faces down toward the ground. The holes in the bottom rim are placed close to the outer edge to leave room for the plywood bottom cover.
     I cut four pieces 6-inches long from a 3 X 2 "stud" (actual measure 2 and 1/2-inch wide by 1 and 1/2-inch thick). I used a drill press and a spade bit to make the 1/2-inch diameter up-angled holes in the wood pieces, then I assembled them in a rotary fashion using only Titebond II waterproof wood glue.
     The second photo shows a frame that has a lot of holes, only in its lower rim, to lure the bees, all drilling done at right angles. Construction is simpler, but it is not clear whether the bees will go for these kinds of holes versus the angled holes into the sides of the frame.

Step 5: Bottom Plate

Picture of Bottom Plate

The bottom plate is a 6-inch square of marine plywood scrap that is a little less than 1/4-inch thick. Lines drawn between opposite corners help lay out the drill holes. The wood plate is clamped to the wooden frame, and both are given match marks. A 5/32-inch dia hole is drilled through the plate and into the frame at each corner to make pilot holes for 1-inch long drywall screws. The plate is unclamped from the frame, and its corner holes countersunk for the drywall screws. The jar lid is placed onto the plate, and its screw holes are marked on the plate. A match mark is made on the plate near the marked screw hole in the lid, then pilot holes 1/8-inch dia are drilled through the plate. Four 3/32-inch dia weep holes are drilled through the plate, located such that neither the wooden frame nor the jar lid will block them. Mark and cut out the center hole of the plate 1 and 3/16-inch radius, sand smooth.

Step 6: Assemble the Bottom Plate

Picture of Assemble the Bottom Plate

Crinkle the large open end of the funnel and push it through the center hole of the plate, making sure the funnel's small opening is on the same side of the plate as the plate's match marks. Uncrinkle the funnel into its original shape. Place the jar lid onto the plate with the match marks aligned, and attach it using four short round-head sheet metal screws.

Step 7: Attach the Bottom Plate to the Frame

Picture of Attach the Bottom Plate to the Frame

Match the marks and attach the plate to the frame using four 1-inch long drywall screws.

Step 8: The Top Plate

Picture of The Top Plate

The top is thin aluminum flashing 7 and 1/4-inches square, its corners rounded off slightly. Attach the top to the frame using bathtub sealant or outdoor silicon caulk, clamp it in place with weights until the sealant sets. This photo shows two of the four slots made for pocket screws I used to attach the trap to the underside of the roof overhang. The aluminum plate is backed up with a piece of wood when the pocket holes are drilled through it.

Step 9: Remote Jar Removal Tool

Picture of Remote Jar Removal Tool

This tool, when attached to a tube of many stacked plastic shop vac pipes, allows me to reach up to unscrew the capture jar to empty it, then screw it back on, a quarter turn does it. A block of wood 2 and 1/2-inch square by 1 and 1/2-inch thick is drilled through to fit over a length of plastic shop vac pipe, then cross-drilled for a bolt and nut. A Twist Loc container is attached to the block using round head sheet metal screws. Washers are placed onto the screws between the block and the jar's bottom and inside between the jar and the screw heads.


Asheville Woodworker (author)2015-08-07

Bee traps are an important part of the multi-faceted approach required to elminiate a carpenter bee infestation. Insert a pesticide powder such as Bayer Sevin or a natural powder such as diatomaceus earth into the entry holes and tunnels as far as possible during the early spring and late summer. Wait a week and stuff a small wad of steel wool in each hole followed by caulk or glued wooden plugs. Full details are available at .

doo da do (author)2012-07-23

Nice idea! if you don't have the tools try this. If you want the carpenter bees (natures cordless drill) gone. Just put a couple of moth balls where they stay, they will move. My problem was solved the next day. Doodado

3of5 (author)doo da do2014-09-08

Spraying them with brake cleaner get rid of them in seconds!

Cymru (author)doo da do2012-07-23

Do you think it would work on carpenter ants?

doo da do (author)Cymru2012-07-23

I have not tried it on ants. We have lots of the little ants, get 16 oz spray bottle about 12oz water, a few drops of liquid detergent, approx 3oz cider vinagar shak and spray those muggs die in 15 seconds. Only ants I have tried it on. Found this on inst, let me know if it works. Doodado

OutlawKtulu (author)doo da do2012-07-26

Sorry to stray away from a great instructable, but I am curious about the "Ant Spray" Is that concoction safe around pets? Got some of those little ants running around and I don't want to put out terro with cats that seem to know how to fit every crack that their heads can get into.

jbailey7 (author)OutlawKtulu2012-07-27

For those with Ant problems here's another solution we've used, sprinkle grits around the mound/hole where you see them. They will eat them, bring them into the nest to share and spread them to others for you. Once they drink water the grits expand and the problem begins to self destruct. Very pet friendly and no chemicals going into the ground.
Apologies for being off topic for this instructable.

Cymru (author)OutlawKtulu2012-07-26

It should be safe around cats. It's the soap that really makes it work. Soap in the water makes the water "sticky" so it doesn't drain off the ants and then the cider vinegar acts like a poison.

Your cats should take a sniff of the liquid, sneeze, then walk away from it.

OutlawKtulu (author)Cymru2012-07-26


We now resume normal comments about the Instructable!

doo da do (author)OutlawKtulu2012-07-26

The spray is warer, cider vinagar, and dish soap. I usually spay on counter, but I don't think it would harm pets. The terro should be put where the ants find it , maybe a corner, that is surrounded close so the cats can't be reached. I have 4 dogs. The Terro works it is taken to the nest and fed to the queen. Doodado

Kiteman (author)2012-07-23

Bearing in mind that the majority of bee species are threatened to some extent, what happens to the bees after they are trapped?

orksecurity (author)Kiteman2012-07-23

You might as well be asking what happens to termites after they're trapped. If you've ever had carpenter bees chewing on your house, this simply is Not A Question.

To answer: what mostly happens is that they dehydrate/starve to death. And this is not a bad thing.

triumphman (author)orksecurity2013-05-02

It is good and just! Who needs a support beam full of big holes, just waiting to break and cave in ? Same for all critters that are dangerous, poisonous, contageous, etc. etc...

unclesam (author)Kiteman2012-07-24

Kiteman, carpenter bees are pollinators, so your concern is valid. This kind of trap is selective in that it is not attractive to other kinds of bees, and unlike poisons, the trap will not harm any other insects. It also kills only those carpenter bees that intend to attack the protected wooden structure. I have seen no reports that carpenter bee populations are dwindling overall, and I wish no harm to those that choose not to attack my house.

TheHobbit81 (author)2012-07-27

Could I modify this to work on the wasps that keep wondering into my yard to die?

unclesam (author)TheHobbit812012-07-27

TheHobbit81, this trap design might work on wasps, but you would need to put a wasp lure in its capture jar. I do not know what material would work as a wasp lure, though it probably has been figured out, because I believe there are wasp traps sold at home/garden centers that must include some kind of lure. Maybe some research would reveal it, maybe it's a pheremone (sex lure). If what is bothering you is yellow jackets, a good lure is a few tablespoons of a sugar-sweetened (not artifically-sweetened) beverage, especially grape soda.

danzo321 (author)2012-07-26

The trap stays under a roof, where it's dry, right? Wondering why such a stress on waterproof construction.

unclesam (author)danzo3212012-07-27

danzo321, the trap is not under a roof, as I use it, it is under an outdoor overhang of a roof. Rain, sleet and snow can be blown onto the trap, and humidity can also affect its materials over a long period of time. I intend to keep the traps in place, rather than take them down over fall/winter, because they are mounted where they are hard to get to (high up), so water-resistant construction should make them last longer. That's the only reason for the water-resistant construction.

Paladin (author)2012-07-26

Or, just put up a hotel for them. They are just a bunch of little cardboard tubes. Build a rectangular frame for them in a few minutes out of scrapwood. They'll prefer pre-made tubes over your shed. Or, give them both. Carrot for those that use the hotel, the stick for those that attack the shed.

ultimut cat (author)Paladin2012-07-26


charlessenf-gm (author)2012-07-26

Very nice design. Good use of materials. I like the rational for the Dansini(sp?) bottle - elegant attachment! And Pocket Screws - very neat!

auntwrennyz (author)2012-07-26

We use something similar for wasps but the jar has water in the bottom. Would water in the bottom of this keep the bees from entering it and getting trapped? Just curious...

My Key (author)auntwrennyz2012-07-26

No, it would not. Carpenter bees aren't attracted to these traps for food. They are attracted to the wood so they have a place to put and protect their babies. The lure is the wood and the premade holes in a dry environment. Putting any type of attactant in the trap will give you poor results.

kill-a-watt (author)2012-07-24

Related to Carpenter bees: If you are replacing the wooden boards that have been destroyed by these critters, go get yourself some curb-shopped white or light colored exterior grade paint and give your new lumber at least two coats on all surfaces (plus at least one finish coat in your color of choice) before installing.

Caulk any cracks that aren't bee tight too.

If you seal a bee within a freshly painted board, they will chew their way out, but given a choice they would prefer to chew on your neighbor's wood instead.

kentdvm (author)2012-07-24

Great trap! I really like the improvements in look and function over the hanging traps. They are much less noticeable. Thanks for sharing!

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