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Do Carpenter Bees Sting? Facts & Treatment

close up carpenter bee on a cactus

There’s a great deal of fear and misinformation out there about different types of bees. While some earn this mantra, others, like the carpenter bee, simply get a bad rap.

Carpenter bees might act tough, but the males can’t sting you, and it’s extremely rare for a female carpenter bee to do so. But why is this the case, what concerns do carpenter bees bring, and how do they help out the local ecosystems? We answer those questions and more for you here.

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Do Carpenter Bees Sting?

If you’re trying to figure out if a carpenter bee can sting you, it depends on the gender. Male carpenter bees don’t have stingers, so they can’t sting you even if they want to.

While female carpenter bees can sting, it’s rare for them to do so. These bees might act territorial toward people, but since only the females have stingers, most carpenter bees simply can’t — and won’t — do anything to you.

Due to this and the fact that they’re excellent pollinators, most people don’t mind having carpenter bees hanging around, but they do mind the damage that they can cause.

a carpenter bee
Image Credit: Joël, Pixabay

Identifying Carpenter Bees

If you’re trying to figure out if a bee can sting you, it’s important to try to figure out what type of bee is lurking around you. Carpenter bees look like bumblebees in that they have large bodies with black-and-yellow stripes.

However, the abdomen of a carpenter bee is all black, shiny, and hairless. They’re also typically not quite as yellow as bumblebees.

Treating Carpenter Bee Stings

While it’s not common for carpenter bees to sting, that doesn’t mean it never happens. Perhaps a kid chased a carpenter bee around, or maybe you didn’t see it and squished it a bit before it stung you.

Either way, you need to know what to do if a carpenter bee stings you. Start by checking the area and removing the stinger if it’s still in you. If you locate the stinger, use a fingernail or a credit card to swipe or scrape it off. Never squeeze and yank out the stinger!

Next, simply leave the site alone. While you can wash the area with soap and water, you should avoid any other type of treatment. Leaving the site open to fresh air will help it heal faster. You can apply ice to help with swelling and take pain medication if you need to.

Finally, keep an eye out for an allergic reaction, since some people are allergic to bee stings. If you suspect a severe allergic reaction, seek help from emergency medical services right away.

woman with swollen eye from bee sting
Image Credit: triocean, Shutterstock

Benefits of Carpenter Bees

While many people don’t like bees, they provide many benefits to local ecosystems. Carpenter bees are pollinators, though they tend to stick to flowers and other nonfood sources. Still, if you have a flower garden or simply like the look of wildflowers, carpenter bees help out with that. But this is about the extent of what they do to help local ecosystems. While they do have beneficial traits, they’re not quite as beneficial as honeybees.

Drawbacks of Carpenter Bees

By far the most notable drawback of carpenter bees is the structural damage that they can cause. They build their nests in wood, so they’ll burrow into siding, fences, and just about any other wood surfaces that you might have around your home.

You can help ensure that they don’t burrow and destroy wood structures by staining or painting the wood, plugging open holes, covering trash cans, and not leaving sugary drinks lying around.

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Final Thoughts

Now that you know more about carpenter bees, you know that you don’t need to run away the next time one comes buzzing toward you. You also know what you can do to help keep them away if you don’t want them around.

But unless carpenter bees are tearing apart your landscape, they don’t do much harm and in fact, can aid in pollinating flowers.


Featured Image Credit: Anita Božić, Pixabay

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