My cabin is cursed with carpenter (wood boring) bees this time of the year. They buzz around trying to pretend that they are harmless bumblebees, hoping I won’t notice that they are eating holes in my cabin’s woodwork, in my porch swing, in the hand-made trim from my father. Grrrrr!
I don’t like using pesticides on the farm and my other methods (see the bottom of this post for those gory details) didn’t work well.
So, Pops built me some traps to get rid of the little suckers and I thought my readers might be interested in how to build wood bee traps to eliminate carpenter bees.
Below are step-by-step instructions with lots of photos to make it easy for you to make your own anti-bee box — and they WORK!
How To Build A Carpenter Bee Trap
Gather the following items:
- A water or soda bottle
- A Plastic jar with a screw on lid (the kind nuts come in works great)
- Scrap wood (a little plywood and a 1×4 board is all you need)
- Staple gun with 1/4 inch staples
- Drill with a bit used to cut holes for installing doorknobs, and one for making “bee” holes
- A circular saw
- Wood screws
- Hammer and nails (medium finishing style nails)
First, cut four pieces of 1×4 the same length (about 10 inches long) and screw them together like this:
Cut a scrap of plywood (see photo above) so it overhangs all four sides of the box. Go ahead and nail that to the box keeping equal distances (edges) on all sides for this “roof” for the bee trap.
Then, cut your plastic soda bottle in two pieces like this:
(Pops used a band saw to do this, I would have used scissors — but he has a fancy shop he likes to show off.)
Next, drill a large hole in another piece of the 1×4 like this:
And cut the board to fit evenly over one end of the box you built out of 1x4s.
Double check the size of the hole (as compared to the size of your bottle) to make sure it will go through far enough — the screw on portion of the bottle should be past the board like this:
Now, mark the plastic bottle using the hole you just cut in the 1×4 board like this:
Cut “flanges” in the top of the bottle using scissors:
These flanges will be stapled to the board to secure the bottle top in place:
Attach them in three opposing locations, to keep the bottletop level as you proceed:
Hammer down the staples to keep them flush:
Trim off the overhanging flange pieces from the bottle and place the bottle-enhanced end on your box:
And nail it down (old-fashioned like I do, or all fancy and high-tech with an air-compressor nail gun like my Pops does (his does look neater than my version and he curses less with his method):
Cut a hole in the plastic lid of your nut-canister (this looked crazy-reckless to me, but Pops ignored my objections and managed to do it without cutting off any fingers, so it’s all good)
Place the lid upside down over top of the bottle neck end of your box like this:
It’s OK if it hangs over the edge of the box a little, no worries (the other piece of wood with the hole you see is for the second bee box trap we built):
Screw the lid onto the end of the box — being careful not to place the screw where the jar will be when screwed into the lid (this one was a little close, but it worked):
Screw on the bottom of the jar to be sure it fits snugly:
Drill 1/2″ holes on all four sides of the bee box. It’s CRITICAL that these be the right size and at a 25-30 degree angle (slanted up toward the top of the box, where the flat plywood “roof” attaches). If the size of the hole is larger or smaller, or the angle is too far off, the bees won’t go in and the trap won’t work.
Screw in a cup hook where the “x” is formed:
TA-DAAAAAA! You now have a carpenter bee trap! (Or two.) That’s my pops in overalls in the background — trying to get out of my photo (but he failed to move fast enough. *grin*
Now you can hang your wood bee trap wherever you have seen indication of them eating through your wood.
The Last Step To Killing Carpenter Bees and How to Save Your Wood!
The last step is to take steel wool and fill the existing holes. You can wood-putty them later, but get them full of steel wool when you hang your boxes, so the bees will look for existing holes. When they find the holes on your traps, they will crawl in. Once inside, they will seek light (which will be most evident from the clear jar at the bottom of the trap). They will go to that jar and will be unable to maneuver to get back out the “funnel” of the bottle top. You then have the option of leaving them there until they die, or taking a more active role in eliminating them. Either way, you can screw off the jar and empty the bees between uses.
Once the active “hive” has been eliminated, you probably won’t see any wood-destroying bees again until next year. If you do this several years in a row, you will be eliminating the nesting (which is why they bore the holes — not for food, but to nest) and the population in your area will dwindle.
This works MUCH better than the other methods I’ve tried (throwing a flip-flop at them and stomping them when they fall down, fly swatters that are never long enough and a BB gun — which takes hours and is only partially effective). Cheers!
*UPDATE 4/30/2014 – Photos for this DIY blog have been reduced in size for faster loading!*
**UPDATE #2 4/30/2014 – Pops has agreed to have 25 of these ready to ship by Monday, April 5th. The cost of the traps will be $30 plus shipping and handling. I should have a quote on the shipping by tomorrow evening (Mom is working on this for us!)
It’s becoming a family project — I’m doing the marketing, responding to all my wonderful readers and I’ll be setting up a way to buy and pay on this site. Pops is building the Carpenter Bee Traps and Mom is helping with shipping cost determinations and keeping a list of interested people from the blog. The Honey Badger is being recruited to code the site for e-commerce (he just doesn’t know it yet!) *evil laugh*
Pops is not committing for any beyond the 25 until he “sees how it goes” — I’ll keep you posted and the first 25 will be sold when I get the e-commerce plugin finished over the weekend.
Until then, keep letting us know who is interested and we will do what we can to help! (Thanks for all the comment love — it makes me happy!)
***UPDATE 5/1/2014 – We sold out of the first 25 in less than three hours this morning! Pops has agreed to commit to making 25 more — next week. This means that if you order past 12:50 p.m. today (5/1) your order will be completed on Monday, May 13 and will be shipped on Tuesday, May 14th.
If they are completed earlier than Monday, we will ship them out earlier. If the demand continues to be high (and if Pops’ energy level stays just as high), I may ask him to commit to making another batch. We shall see.
Just let me know if you are interested and I’ll do my best to encourage him to make a few more, if they are needed.
What a wonderful adventure this is becoming! Thank you!
Update #2 for 5/1/2014:
Please note that any orders placed after 4 p.m. today (May 1st) may have a 2-week delay for delivery!! Pops is making these as fast as he can to meet my readers’ needs — but he’s just ONE Pops!
We have sold out of the original 50 bee boxes Pops committed to make. He’s now (with a little gentle nudging — or some pushing and whining from me) agreed to commit to 25 more — but the delivery will be two weeks out from Monday the 6th of May.
Update #3 for 5/1/2014:
YESSSS! Pops has agreed to make it an even 100! We are updating the shopping area now!
Update for 5/2/2014:
Pops is busy working in the shop today, making Carpenter Bee Boxes for all of my readers who ordered them yesterday — 100 in 12 hours!!!
Here are a couple pictures and a video of him making the holes (some folks asked how he got the angle right). As you can see from the video, he built a “ramp” on his drill press to give the correct angle (He’s so smart!) and to make it faster to mass produce the sides that needed the bee hole.
Thanks, Mom, for taking the photos and the video for us!
Pops also wanted me to add this information for those building their own traps:
Although some designs have many more bee holes, it’s a trade-off, since you may catch more bees faster — but they are more likely to get out before seeking the brighter light at the bottom and becoming trapped.
If you are making your own boxes, and you want to try more holes, he suggests drilling them, but watching them closely. If the bees in your many-hole design are climbing back out, fill the extra holes with steel wool until you are catching as many as possible without any escaping! Thanks, Pops!
UPDATE: MAY 7, 2014: Please read the blog post The Great Carpenter Bee Trap Adventure.