Picture of Making Carpenter Bee Traps
Carpenter bees are nature's answer to the cordless drill.  They are incredible drillers and cause significant damage to wooden buildings by burrowing long holes.  The bees do not actually eat the wood but drill tunnels as a place to lay eggs.  Their preference is to find an old hole and drill further into the wood each year before laying their eggs.  Over time, the continued removal of wood causes significant damage and eventual failure of the wooden support. In the forest, bees find old dead wood to drill into and cause no harm at all.  Unfortunately our homes and barns are a big target for carpenter bees with an unlimited amount of exposed dry wood for nesting.  Picture 2 shows damage in a piece of lumber and picture 3 shows how extensive the nests can be in a piece of firewood.

Carpenter bee traps are not an original idea, but in searching for an instructable, I discovered no one had posted plans.  Since I needed to make some traps I thought an instructable was in order.  There are many designs and you can google for images to see the variety.  Most of them are pretty close to this design.  
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Step 1: The trap is set

Picture of The trap is set
The trap is a simple wooden box with 1/2" holes drilled in all 4 sides at an upward angle.  Since the bees prefer to use an existing hole, these traps provide the hole they are seeking.  Once inside the box, the bees fly toward the light and end up in the plastic water bottle at the bottom.  Two things I saw mentioned online were that these bees like an overhanging roof and a sloped side to the box.  I included these design elements by providing an oversized roof and angling 2 sides of the box.
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kudzu639 days ago

I made some and instead of using the half bottle/big hole like you did, I just drilled an 1 1/8th hole deep enough to sink a bottle cap into. Then I drill a 1/2 hole in the bottle cap. The fit for the bottle cap is good and tight but I put a little Gorilla glue on it. Then I could screw the bottle directly to it. When it gets full just unscrew it, throw it away and screw a new bottle in place.

SmokyMtnGuy11 days ago

Made this a couple of years ago. Traps were ineffective until a neighbor told me to place a dead carpenter bee in the bottle. It seems the scent attracts other carpenter bees. Caught many after this tip. This trap literally saves thousands of dollars in damage.

RbotJ1 month ago

Thats awesome I'll need to make one of these guys

enelson82 months ago
I love the second to last picture, mass production!!!
CAbeachguy7 months ago

Can't wait to make some of these. The carpenter bees have really torn up parts of my log home and my barn. To those upset with those of us that kill these bees you should consider the economic damage vs. their benefit. Carpenter bees have little benefit to the ecology of an average yard, yet drastic economic expense in terms of home repairs or resale value.

elliot544510 months ago

I made this. Can't wait to try it!

Mazk1 year ago

This might help some of you out.

If possible, susceptible exterior parts of a building should be constructed out of hardwoods not normally attacked by the bees for nests. On all buildings, fill depressions and cracks in wood surfaces so they are less attractive. Paint or varnish exposed surfaces regularly to reduce weathering. Fill unoccupied holes with steel wool and caulk to prevent their reuse. Wait until after bees have emerged before filling the tunnels [or they might make another exit hole]. Once filled, paint or varnish the repaired surfaces. Protect rough areas, such as ends of timbers, with wire screening or metal flashing">

carpenter bees bad, mason bees good. I'd imagine this kills both?
kentdvm (author)  Bryan Smith1 year ago
I don't have mason bees to my knowledge, but I believe they are smaller than the big carpenter bees. The hole may be too big to be attractive to the mason bees but I don't have any experience with their preferences. The only thing I've caught in these traps is the larger carpenter bees.
dbows1 year ago
These critters are easily killed by spraying spray lubricant (wd-40) generously into their hole while they are inside. Within seconds, 1-5 bees will climb out and drop to the ground. Insert the straw portion of the can as far into the hole as you can.
dubya2 years ago
I've been at war with these bees for years and never thought of a trap. Thanks.
In Oklahoma, they ruined our redwood deck over several years, and they are now working on a new pressure-treated deck. I found that I can hit them fairly often with a BB gun - one day about 5 years ago, I hit over 50 of them in one day. I also came up with a way to build a "shot shell" for use in a pellet gun that works better than a single BB Perhaps that oughta be another instructable. I'll have traps up by next week. Thanks again
Hey dubya, I would love a shotshell for my Crossman American Classic 1377 (.177 Cal.) pistol! How do I make it ? Need your expertise, ASAP ! Thanks.
ljhtg2 years ago
Before engaging in something so destructive to nature and the environment consider the benefits of bees. Why is it that man has to kill what they don't understand or care to understand. Try building nesting sites for these creatures before of killing them.
How sweet and cozzy! You don't have to watch them eating my log home! 1/2 inch holes are pretty big! They are smart too. They drill them up high so you can't get to them easily! As for the pollination bull, there are plenty of other creatures to do that, even the wind helps! So if a bug is doing some bad thing you would rather save it cause its "cute"? Get real!
Thank you for your well thought out and intelligent reply. Obviously you have considered their benefits and feel that this species has no legitimate reason to keep around. Apparently you and your home in the country are a more important species to have on earth. Good luck with that.
Wish you were a big black & yellow bee!
ljhtg- carpenter bees are nowhere close to extinction, and trapping the ones that are near a house will not make them extinct. From your comment, it seems likely that you live in a city apartment that was built by someone else and is maintained by someone else. Your apartment required cutting trees and driving out woodland creatures just like everyone else's home did, and it requires continuing anti-pest measures to keep it standing and healthy.
I never suggested the bees were nearing extinction and you would be 100% wrong about where I live. Please don't put words in my mouth or make false accusations.
"pollination bull" eh?98% of what you eat requires those 'cute bugs'.Only corn and wheat are wind pollinated.So go ahead kill the bugs and enjoy living on bread and water in the future.
Are you not of the same species ? Maybe you are alien , we will kill you too !
HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA Might have known ........Mama always said it is a waste of breath to argue with a fool.
Your mother was a smart woman!
BAd breath ! HAHAHAHAHA!
Hippocracy running rampant again!
I agree 100% ! No one likes holes in our homes!
Right on Brother!
AMEN! Providing nesting sites using various lengths of cane will entice the bees away from all manner of wooden posts,beams,boards.Lazy people kill.Smart people work with nature not against it.
Thanks for the info, your PHD came in handy after all!
shoboli2 years ago
had a guy making byrans bee butter i think thats it but epa shut him down.figures.but great trap. you can always go with a small hive of bees .have been with honey bees my whole life they are fun and they got a good treat at the end of the year.honey and bisquits cant be beat.
I've been meaning to make some of these for a while now and finally hung my first two last Thursday, just in time for this cold snap to drive the bees into hiding.  So far I've caught only 6-7 of the little devils, but I'm hoping to see many more once it warms up again.  

I ended up using 20oz Gatorade bottles (like this) for my design.  I found that using these, you can get around having to tape or grommet caps together by cutting off the bottoms of both bottles, and then the little divot a third of the way down the bottle will fit into the bottom of the other bottle.  This also creates a little baffle to keep the bees from flying back up and into the "house" part of the trap.

Thanks for the great idea.  It lacks the stress-relief factor of the tennis racket method, but definitely makes me look less insane to the neighbors.
unclesam2 years ago
kentdvm, I just mounted some small traps based on your concept, they caught five bees on the first day of this bee season. This version attaches to the under edge of my mansard-style roof, which is fairly close to the ground. Details here:
kentdvm (author)  unclesam2 years ago
Nice job! I like the more straight forward design. I'm going to try using grommets this year as my tape didn't last over winter. Very clever.
Cotopaxi2 years ago
Despite the primitive design of the apparatus, I am not in the least bit surprised by the effectiveness of this good carpenter bee trap. thanks kentDVM for sharing
clazman2 years ago
This is very distressing to me.

I have lived in various areas of the U.S., at least, and have never encountered these insects.

What areas of the world have they inhabited?

My best wishes to all of you that are experiencing this terrible attack.
We're in far northern Calif. and have some redwood lintels on the house that they love. In spring there are hundreds, now in summer not so much, a few. We didn't do anything to the big black bees except swat them out of the air with a badmitten racket. After 2 decades of being a bee nursery we still haven't needed to replace the wood but are keeping an eye on it. I will try this trap next spring, thanks.
bolgsy clazman2 years ago
South West Pa, they're eating my deck and fascia. Just a hint to newbies to fightin these critters, I constantly crack em with a 3 foot spade shovel, they shoot off like a baseball, fall to the ground and come back for more. Buzz in my face everytime I come in and out of my front door.
eBandit clazman2 years ago
I am in Dayton, Ohio. And there are plenty out now.
kentdvm (author)  eBandit2 years ago
I'm in Georgia. Had never seen them in Oklahoma. Of course we didn't have trees;)
tabby90 clazman2 years ago
Greensboro, NC. Plenty of carpenter bees chowed down on my deck. Usually I'd find a little pile of sawdust and find a hole on the bottom side of a railing. They are big and scary looking but really not that big a deal. It would take a while for some serious damage.
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