Seeing bees buzz around your home can be cause for concern. Fuzzy little black-and-yellow striped bumble bees landing in your garden is no issue, but if you see others around your wood structures, they may be carpenter bees—which you definitely don’t want. It can be dangerous to try to exterminate or relocate bees on your own, and you’d never want to hurt a honey bee by accident. That’s why you should call a professional pest control company.

Professional pest control companies like Orkin and Terminix know how to identify harmful bees from beneficial ones and create treatment plans to eliminate carpenter bees. Each company is responsible, doing all they can to protect pollinators whenever possible. If you’d like a free quote from Orkin, call 877-868-1416 or fill out this simple form. To get a free quote from Terminix, call 866-569-4035 or fill out this form.

Identifying Types of Bees

A professional pest control company can perform a free inspection to assess the type of bees you’re dealing with. But if you’re curious, there are several ways to tell the different major types of bees apart, including their appearance and where they build their hives.

It’s important to note that pest control companies like Orkin and Terminix will do everything they can to avoid harming beneficial pollinators like bumble bees and honey bees. These species have seen large declines, which has jeopardized our ecosystem. Luckily, some species are now protected. Many states have put protections in place, specifically banning the use of federally banned pesticides. However, it isn’t necessarily illegal to kill bees.

While you may consider bees a nuisance, remember that they can help your garden flourish and pollinate crops all over the world. It’s understandable to have concerns if you are allergic to bee stings. But otherwise, it’s best to leave them alone—unless they’re carpenter bees. This type of bee, also called the “wood bee” drills holes into wood to make its nest, causing structural damage over time.

Bumble bees

Bumble bees are fuzzy and large with black and white stripes and stubby wings, and they grow to just a little over one inch in length. They typically build their nests close to the ground, like under piles of wood and compost piles. Sometimes they’ll even build nests below ground in tunnels rodents have created and abandoned. Most bumble bee hives typically have several hundred individual bees.

The males do not have stingers, while females do. However, they only sting if they are provoked. Unlike honey bees, whose stingers come off after an attack, bumble bees can sting multiple times and do not lose their stinger.

Honey bees

Honey bees are much smaller than bumble bees, at just about ½-⅝ of an inch. They build their nests in areas like hollowed out logs and trees, and sometimes fence posts. Honey bee colonies are much larger than bumble bee colonies—there can be anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 in one hive.

Honey bees can sting when threatened. When they sting a person, their barbed stinger gets trapped under the skin. The honey bee cannot pull it back out, and dies shortly after.

Carpenter bees

Carpenter bees look a lot like bumble bees, although they are not hairy, and have a shiny black abdomen. These bees live in parks and fields, along with homes that have gardens and sheds. Unlike bumble bees and honey bees, carpenter bees drill holes inside of wood to create a series of “galleries” where they lay their eggs. They are not social creatures, and do not live in colonies.

Only female carpenter bees can sting, and only tend to do so when threatened or provoked.

How To Remove Bumble Bees and Honey Bees

If you call a pest control company and they identify bumble bees and honey bees, they will not exterminate them. Instead, they will contact, or have you contact, local beekeepers. Using a bait trap, the beekeepers will coax the bee colony out of the hive and into a box hive. From there, the beekeepers can relocate these harmless bees.

You should not try to do this on your own. Without the proper knowledge, experience, and tools, you can upset the hive and provoke them into stinging you.

How Bee Exterminators Work

It’s unlikely carpenter bees will sting you, but they can cause a great deal of damage to your wooden surfaces. In addition to drilling holes, carpenter bees will leave pollen near the entry hole, leaving stains.

In order to carpenter bees you’ll have to call a pest control company. After performing a free home inspection, they’ll determine the best course of action.

One option is to remediate the structure the carpenter bees are going into. This can be done by replacing materials from wood to something the bees can’t drill into, or painting and staining the wood—carpenter bees typically stay away from treated wood.

A common method for pest control companies is either dusting or spraying chemicals into the holes in your wood or the access points. Injecting the treatment will eradicate the bees over time. Keep in mind that this won’t be immediate. The treatment can kill adult bees, but may not harm any eggs that have already been laid if the treatment isn’t residual. The larvae will continue to grow, and eventually hatch. Your pest control company will likely have to return to treat and monitor over the course of several seasons.

Different companies have different plans for eliminating carpenter bees. Some offer control and prevention on a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly basis, while others will include bee control as part of a comprehensive annual program. The specific company can advise the schedule after performing the free inspection.

What Not To Do

It’s not advisable you try to exterminate bees on your own. It can be dangerous to you, and it can kill harmless bees that actually do a great deal for agriculture. If you think you’ve identified carpenter bees, you still shouldn’t take action. Internet research and protective clothing won’t be enough to get the job done.

  • Do not use diatomaceous earth.
  • Do not seal the exit hole of a bee hive.
  • Do not spray chemicals yourself.
  • Do not pour boiling water directly into a hive.
  • Do not cover a hive with a tarp and weigh it down to starve bees.

How to Prevent Bees

In general, you won’t want to prevent the occasional bee from pollinating your garden. But if you’re worried about bees building hives, there are a few steps you can take.

The easiest way to prevent carpenter bees is by painting and staining your wood. Carpenter bees do not like to drill through or lay eggs in treated wood.

Bumble bees are attracted to sweet sweet foods. If you leave trash out with soda cans and empty fruit juice bottles, you may pique some bees’ interest. Take out your trash often and be sure to clean your can to avoid attracting them.

Burning citronella candles can repel bees, since they don’t like the scent.

Top Recommended Companies for Bee Control

Orkin and Terminix both do their best to not harm bees and relocate them whenever possible. When specialists have to eliminate carpenter bees, they use either dusts or sprays and inject them directly into drilled holes.

We always recommend getting multiple quotes before making your final decision. If you’d like a free quote from Orkin, call 877-868-1416 or fill out a simple form. To get a free quote from Terminix, call 866-569-4035 or fill out this form.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Rating Methodology

The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plan options, additional benefits and convenience factors, availability, trustworthiness, and customer service to arrive at a final score out of 100.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at