Introduction: Quick and Easy Carpenter Bee Trap

About: Tinkerer with a garage, tools, and time to kill...

Carpenter Bees! For those not familiar...well good for you. For those who interact with these winged devil-spawn on a regular basis; then you know that this isn't your friendly neighborhood honey bee. Carpenter bees have an annoying habit of burrowing into wood and eating up the internal structure of fence posts, decking, eaves, etc. etc.

I'm a California boy that recently located to TN. I was not ready for the influx of bugs I'd get moving to the south. For the most part it's harmless...I mean they're just bugs after all. But then one day I was sitting on my porch and relaxing as I watched what I THOUGHT was a bumblebee. It landed on the wood post near me and crawled around. Suddenly the thing started picking at the post. I watched in REAL TIME as it began to burrow. My thoughts were as follows:

1) What kind of crazy bees to they breed here in the south?

2) How am I gonna keep these beasts from chewing their way through my porch?

Later that day my friend, who had bought a log cabin nearby, was telling me of the precautions he was making to protect the cabin. Among the things he discussed was a way to deal with these flying fiends. His solution was simple and elegant...a carpenter bee trap!

As he discussed being able to catch and kill over 20 of the pests within the first day of installing the traps I KNEW I had to make one for my yard too.

For those looking for a similar solution, or just intrigued to know more...follow along or watch the build video I've included. At the end of the video I even include footage of the traps first catch!



4x4 lumber (7")

mason jar

drill bits (3/4" and 1/2")


wood screws

Step 1: Cut General Shape

Cut off 7 inches from the 4x4 piece of lumber and the mark a 45deg angle. After cutting along the line marked, you should be left with a piece of wood that is 7 inches on one side and 4 inches on the other. Now it's time to drill some holes.

Step 2: Let's Take a Minute to Explain the Trap.

On the surface, this trap is a chunk of pine wood with holes drilled into it and a mason jar attached to the bottom.

Drilling the holes in the wood is where the trap comes together. The idea is to present the bees with a piece of softwood (something they are instinctively attracted to) with holes for them to crawl into.

While these bees CAN burrow into a piece of wood quite effectively...they are also not one to pass up taking the easy path. So when the bee finds the trap they will gladly climb up into the holes drilled.

We will be drilling a hole on each face of the 4x4 as well as a hole on the bottom. The holes on the side of the 4x4 will angle upwards so they intersect with the main central hole that has been drilled up from the bottom of the 4x4.

The trap works by having the bee climb up the slanting hole from the side of the 4x4 until it reaches the main central shaft. At the intersection, the bee is at a bottleneck. It can't turn around so it turns into the shaft on it's way out of the trap. The problem: the light it sees at the other end of the central hole is through the glass of the mason jar that is attached to the bottom of the piece of wood. Once in the mason jar the bee can't climb the walls or fly back out of the trap.

One bee down.

Here's a fun fact: for some strange reason, carpenter bees are attracted the the smell of a dead or dying carpenter bee. Why? Who knows? But in this case that odd fact comes to our aid: once you've caught a bee the trap just becomes even more effective and will attract even more bees.

Game. Set . Match.

Step 3: Drilling the Holes

Ok, so about drilling those holes:

1) Drill the main hole in the bottom of the trap. Use a 3/4" bit.

2) Drill 1/2" holes in all 4 sides of the trap, starting about an inch from the bottom and drilled at a 45 degree angle upwards. For the trap to work, these holes need to intersect the 3/4" hole drilled previously.

Step 4: Attaching the Mason Jar

I used one of the small Mason jars so that it fit under the 4x4 base a little better.

To attach the mason jar, you'll just be screwing the lid to the bottom of the trap. However, before doing that you'll need to cut a 3/4" hole in the lid to line up with the central hole of the trap.

Once the lid is attached to the trap base, screw the mason jar in place. Being able to screw the mason jar on and off of the trap allows for the easy removal of the bees you'll be collecting in there.

Step 5: Hang the Trap

The trap is done! Attach hanging hardware to the top and hang the trap in your yard. Try to place it in a location where you've seen the most carpenter bee activity. The fence post I selected already had several holes from the bees in it so I figured it was as good a place as any.

Step 6: Make the World a Better Place...trapping One Bee at a Time

You've got a bee trap. It's done....and so are your problems with carpenter bees.

You're welcome.