Dispelling the Myth – Do Carpenter Bees Like Pressure Treated Wood?

A lot of homeowners love to build with pressure treated wood. That’s because it’s said to be ‘resistant’ to pests. But when you have a bunch of carpenter bees buzzing around, does it really help? Or does it make the problem worse? So do carpenter bees like pressure treated wood? Let’s find out.

Dispelling the Myth – Do Carpenter Bees Like Pressure Treated Wood?

Carpenter bees can be a nuisance. That's why a lot of homeowners look for all sorts of ways to repel them. CC Image courtesy of aussiegall on Flickr

What’s so special about pressure treated wood?

You’ve heard about pressure treated wood plenty of times. But how is it made? And what’s so great about it?

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Pressure treating is a process that preserves wood. It starts when lumber is pressurized inside a huge tank to remove all the air inside it. It’s then bathed in preservatives which are usually safe amounts of either copper or arsenic. The pressure forces the preservatives to seep deeply into the wood without damaging it, keeping its integrity while maximizing its endurance. The substances also help it withstand fungi, microorganisms and termites as well as inhibit weathering and rot. With this process, the pressure treated wood has become convenient to build with, especially for outdoor structures.

Do carpenter bees like pressure treated wood?

When we say “like”, we mean, “live inside in”. Pressure treated wood might keep fungi and termites away, but carpenter bees tell a totally different story.

Remember that carpenter bees don’t eat wood. Unlike termites, they drill into it, but they don’t partake on any of the fibers inside. They simply build a nest to house their grubs. With that said, not gorging on the preservatives gives the carpenter bees a certain advantage over the treated wood. And many would even testify that these bees don’t seem to show any clear sign of being repelled or killed by the wood’s preservatives.

However, what the wood can do is to slow the carpenter bee’s progress in building a nest. These bees always look for the most suitable place for their young. So they would generally choose untreated wood over its chemically bathed counterpart. That’s because pressure treating makes wood less attractive due to its different state. It’s denser. It smells weird, and it’s more difficult for them to penetrate through. These reasons will cost carpenter bees more time to create a nest.

So it’s not that carpenter bees are actually repelled by pressure treated wood. It’s just that there are better options out there. Old weathered planks, for example, would temp the bees better than treated wood. But if there is no other option for them, then they would still be able to drill into a chemically bathed wood and survive.

So what type of wood keeps carpenter bees away?

None. That’s right. These insects are notorious for drilling into many kinds of wood, even live trees. There are even talks of cedar having a rumored ability to repel them, but there hasn’t been any proof of that either.

Carpenter bees will attack virtually all kinds of wood. So don’t waste your time picking out the best planks and asking silly questions to your local home depot like “ Do carpenter bees like pressure treated wood? ”. It’s best that you don’t focus your bee-repelling efforts on the wood that you’re using. Instead, try different approaches in keeping them out.

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