The Swarm in My Antique Church Pew and How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees

The gates of heaven opened and a choir of angels sang from on high when I finally found the antique pew of my dreams! Little did I know that it had a secret hiding inside … a swarm of carpenter bees! This is the story of how to know if you have them, how to make sure you don’t bring anything home with them hiding inside, and how to get rid of carpenter bees for good before they wreak havoc on your home (and give you nightmares for years)!

She bought this antique church pew before she realized a swarm of carpenter bees were nesting in it! #churchpew #vintage #vintagedecor #antique #antiquedecor #farmhouse #farmhousedecor #carpenterbees #bees #sunroomdecor #plants #houseplants #plantlady #gardening #gardens

Things started out innocently enough. I love scouring Facebook for great vintage finds so when I spotted this antique pew at a bargain price, I knew it had to be mine. My hubby and I hopped in the car and enjoyed a scenic hour long drive to pick up the pew. Things went down hill when my hubby “scratched” his stomach while picking up the pew but I was so excited about my new find that I ignored his whining!

We lovingly placed it in the sunroom but as we set it down, a bee flew by and it was then that my hubby realized it was actually a bee that had stung him (not a scratch as he first suspected. It took until the next day for the four ugly red welts to appear on his stomach! (I snapped a quick pic of the pew on my phone not realizing it would be my last – notice the yellow ball on the floor)!

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees for Good! #bees #pestcontrol #carpenterbees #housemaintenance #bees #garden #nature

Three days later, I spotted a bee that seemed to be sleeping on the sunroom window so we opened the window and out it flew. Then I spotted another dead bee on the floor! My super sleuth skills told me it was time to investigate the bench. I flipped the pew over and peered into a little hole underneath and saw something black and glistening inside.

We stuck a pencil into the hole and something began to move … we had awoken the beast!

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She bought this antique church pew before she realized a swarm of carpenter bees were nesting in it! #churchpew #vintage #vintagedecor #antique #antiquedecor #farmhouse #farmhousedecor #carpenterbees #bees #sunroomdecor #plants #houseplants #plantlady #gardening #gardens

I could not get the pew out of my house quickly enough! We doused the holes with insect killer and nine bees came crawling out as my girls and I screamed in terror which you can actually hear if you watch this video in my Instagram stories here.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees for Good! #bees #pestcontrol #carpenterbees #housemaintenance #bees #garden #nature

Here is what I learned about Carpenter Bees so you will not make my mistake of bringing home a bee infested find.

Carpenter Bee Facts

Carpenter Bees differ from Honey Bees in that the former damages wood structures. You can spot Carpenter Bees by their bare, shiny, black bodies while Honey Bees have fuzzy yellow and black stripes.

Carpenter Bees live for about one year. In spring, female Carpenter Bees use their strong jaws to vibrate themselves through wood and bore round 1/2 inch holes into unfinished or dead wood. The bees don’t eat the wood but reuse the sawdust to build cells where they lay eggs.

When the eggs hatch, they’ll feed on pollen until they become adults in late summer when they’ll leave their nests and hunt for pollen until winter hibernation.

The following spring, they’ll leave their nests seeking food and a mate. Males will begin to die soon after mating and females will use both pre-existing nests for their eggs as well as make new nests. Females will die in the spring or summer after laying eggs.

You’ll often see male bees defending the nest but only females have a stinger and they can sting over and over again!

How to Treat Carpenter Bee Nests

Carpenter Bees often come back to the same nest where they were born which is why nests need to be dusted and sealed as soon as possible.

If the nest is active, spray a flying insect spray into the entrance holes. It’s best to do this at night when the bees are resting but be careful for angry female bees that may emerge!

Once the bees are dead, the best long term treatment for existing Carpenter Bee nests is to treat the entrance hole with an insecticide dust. The dust will remain in the tunnels for many months which should be long enough to kill any young adult bees that emerge from the nest. The easiest way to get the dust into the opening without making a mess is to apply the insecticide with a hand duster.

The next day, fill holes in the wood with steel wool, a wad of aluminum foil or caulk then paint over the holes.

Consider using this Carpenter Bee Trap to make sure they don’t come back and do more damage.

She bought this antique church pew before she realized a swarm of carpenter bees were nesting in it! #churchpew #vintage #vintagedecor #antique #antiquedecor #farmhouse #farmhousedecor #carpenterbees #bees #sunroomdecor #plants #houseplants #plantlady #gardening #gardens #bostonterrier

Since my pew was inside, I decided it was not worth the risk of anything hatching in a few months and going on a murderous rampage to avenge their parents death so we took the pew to the dump where it was crushed. As you can see, Sushi is grinning from ear to ear knowing she’s safe from bee stings.

Does anyone have the name of a good therapist? I’ll be having nightmares about this for years!

If you’re plagued by pesky mosquitos, don’t miss my tips below …

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  1. After all this, I’m so sorry you didn’t get to keep your treasure. But I agree, not worth the risk. Thank you for the insightful article. Always adorable Sushi!!

  2. How sad that you had to trash your church pew! I put a church pew on my must-have list probably when I was a teenager. About 20 years ago my husband brought home a beautiful church pew that is over 100 years old. I loved how your pew looked with the house plants on it. I would love to be able to do that but I know my husband would have a conniption fit .He seems to think that my collection of plants that numbers over 75 is a bit much.

  3. A little “overkill”, pun intended. Carpenter Bees are fairly harmless, yes, they bore holes. They are also slow and fairly stupid and can be swatted with ease and scared off. The female will ONLY sting if directly handled. These are not aggressive creatures. I get them almost every year under the lean-to of my garage. They are not supposed to bore into painted wood, but the beams I have are painted. A simple spray to the hole is all that is needed. Crushing that cute pew was not necessary. And for about $19 there is this product called Bio Advanced 700420A Carpenter Bee Killer, which will also kill termites and other wood boring insects. It is an expanding foam so will go deep into a hole and fill in crevices. If not found in your garden supply or hardware store, you can find it on Amazon.

    1. My hubby was stung four times and had huge angry red welts on his stomach for days! We felt better getting rid of it since we kept it inside. If it was outside, I would have powdered it and filled it but did not want to risk a bee invasion in my house! Happy 4th of July Lesley

    2. Thanks for the info about the foam for the carpenter bees. They are really wreaking havoc on my home. This year seems a lot worse. Maybe because they all got displaced from hurricane Sally. So they are having to all make new holes for laying eggs. Who knows? I just know it seems they are worse this year.

      1. To get rid of theses pest simply spray the hole kind of heavy with W-D 40. You only have to do this once a year. And boom no more bees!

  4. Boy, what a mess to put up with, that poor bench. It was a pretty pew, did they have it setting outside on their porch, that must be how they got in. Now Sushi looks over joyed!!!

  5. That it sad. I did not know about these bees, until I saw those holes in the rails on my deck. Was blaming someone for drilling holes in the rail, as they are so perfectly round. My son told me about these bees. Sprayed the holes and got rid of them. But have since replaced our railing with a wrought iron one. No more worries. You will surely find another bench in the future.

  6. After months of “curing” outdoors, blasted with hose water and suds, and the dry end of summer air, we brought our 7 ft driftwood branch indoors to artistically hang from the foyer ceiling. It was everything I dreamed of, decorated it to the hilt for the upcoming Christmas holiday……AND THEN…the heating season began, and the ants emerged from deep within! Tons and tons and tons of ants dropping from my ceiling driftwood, marching across my floors, furniture, steps…UGH! Total nightmare! All I could do is vacuum non-stop for the month’s worth of mass exodus until all the ants were GONE. The construction of hanging the heavily decorated branch made it impossible to take down during the evacuation, so I just “dealt” with frazzled nerves. My hair is finally growing back in! Haha! =) Happy 4th!! Ally

    1. Now that is the stuff of nightmares Ally! I am so glad your hair is back but better to check there aren’t any ants in there! Wishing you a happy (ant free) 4th. PS Do you still have the driftwood?

      1. Yes, I still have the driftwood…it is now adorned with crystal drops, mini chandi ornaments, baubles and beads. Yes, I’m a fru-fru frenchy parisian crystal chandi kinda gal. I change out the driftwood decor with seasons changes, hanging mini birdcages among the crystals during spring/summer, greenery/deeper colours for fall/winter,Christmas decor for holiday, and icy winter picks and branches for the real chill season. Its always decked with white twinkle light strands to add to the “drama”! =) No sign of ants since the mass exodus ended…house and hair! haha! Blessings, Ally

  7. OMG that’s a crazy story. It almost wants to make me take down that cute little bee house I received for a gift. I sure don’t want carpenter bees taking up residence in my home!

  8. We have carpenter bees every year and they come to pollinate the trees and then after about three or four weeks they disappear, so I just let them live in my old wood. The males are aggressive, but they don’t bother us and can’t sting or bite, so they’re harmless. There is usually only one queen that we see and she lives in the hole. Then, shortly after, they are gone, so we just deal with them. I believe they have a job to do. 🐝

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