Carpenter Bees: How to Get Rid of Them With This DIY Trap!

No-Pesticide Solution to Wood Boring Bees: Simple Wooden Bee Box to Kill Carpenter BeesMy 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:

Build a trap and kill wood bees

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:

Trap carpenter bees using a soda bottle Trapping bees that eat wood

(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:

DIY Wooden Carpenter Bee Trap

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:

Using a plastic water bottle to make a bee trap

Now, mark the plastic bottle using the hole you just cut in the 1×4 board like this:

Mark bottle on wood bee trap with magic marker

Cut “flanges” in the top of the bottle using scissors:

Snipping flanges on bottle to build a carpenter bee trap

These flanges will be stapled to the board to secure the bottle top in place:

2013-05-19_17-23-33_903How to secure bottle onto top of wood eating bee trap

Attach them in three opposing locations, to keep the bottletop level as you proceed:

How to make a do it yourself bee trap for wood destroying bees

Securing flanges on carpenter or wood bee trap Stapling flanges on wood bee trap Trim off flanges on wood bee trap

Hammer down the staples to keep them flush:

Hammer staples of carpenter bee trap down

Trim off the overhanging flange pieces from the bottle and place the bottle-enhanced end on your box:

Secure bee catcher to bottom of wood bee tr Bottom view of wood bee trap

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):

Bottom of carpenter bee trap secured in place

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)

Cutting screw top for wood bee trap making a wood eating bee trap

Place the lid upside down over top of the bottle neck end of your box like this:

line up the lid on the bottom of the bee trap

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):

Step-by-step instructions to make a bee box to kill wood boring carpenter bees

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):

Secure jar lid to bottom of bee trap with two wood screws

Screw on the bottom of the jar to be sure it fits snugly:

How to build a death trap for wood bees

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 wrong, the bees won’t go in and the trap won’t work.

boring your own holes for wood bees to enter and save your wood trim on your house

Upside down homemade wood bee trap

Now, add a hanger on the top. Using a straight edge, make a mark from opposing corner to opposing corner:
X to eliminate wood bees!

Screw in a cup hook where the “x” is formed:

Hook to hang carpenter bee trap

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*

Two home made wood bee traps to kill carpenter bees and save my wood!

Now you can hang your wood bee trap wherever you have seen indication of them eating through your wood.

A bee box to save the wood on your outdoor projects (and your cabin or house!)

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!

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4 Responses to Carpenter Bees: How to Get Rid of Them With This DIY Trap!

  1. D Hoffkins ns says:

    I don’t get the steel wool thing. Put it in the holes we just drilled? How do the bees get in there?

    • Angela Allen says:

      Hi, sorry if that was a little unclear. You put the steel wool in the holes the BEES have been drilling into your house (or shed, or shop or whatever). Doing that will prevent them from returning to the familiar holes — because they can’t eat the steel wool and continue boring and making them worse — and they will search for already started holes elsewhere (like in your bee trap).

  2. jj says:

    Sweet! I live out in the *country* and we have wood boring bees taking over our deck, carports,, sheds & our landings. Going to build a few of them. Hopefully we can get rid of them in a few years.

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