One of the passages of spring is the arrival of carpenter bees on the wood decks, patios and porches of area homes.
Often seen as a nuisance, in efforts to keep bees from boring into the wood, these carpenter bees are often exterminated in efforts to protect homeowner’s wood furnishings. A Jackson County couple has developed an idea to help provide a safer alternative to carpenter bees often aggravating behavior.
“Instead of killing carpenter bees we make them condos,” said Kristina Maree. “The carpenter bees are great pollinators so don’t kill them, make them homes instead.”
Kristina and Dale Maree have been fixtures in Cashiers and Highlands for a long time. Husband Dale is a builder, owning D&K Construction more than 25 years, serving the plateau’s home construction needs, while Maree fabricates and designs custom Sterling silver and gold jewelry.
Kristina Maree said she got the idea from a You Tube video, and like Thomas Edison, set out to make a better “light bulb.”
“We’ve been having problems with carpenter bees at our home,” she said. “So, I looked it up for kicks in You Tube and there are several videos about carpenter bees.”
Maree said she was ready to get rid of the bees like she always did each spring, until she found out how critical carpenter bees were to the environment.
“I didn’t realize that their great pollinators and we need them,” she said. “I was ready to kill them and stop up the holes, but we definitely need all the bees we can get.
Bees like any kind of soft wood like poplar, pine and hemlock. Maree said they also like it if the wood is a little bit rotted. So Kris and Dale set about designing their own prototype carpenter bee hive.
“When you make one, the drilled holes are different sizes, about 3/8-to-1/2 inch are the sizes of drill bits we used.”
The Marees first design caught the attention of friends and neighbors on Facebook and Kris said they built a few more with different designs. As far as building them for sale, it’s a wait and see situation.
“As far as I know they’re not in stores,” she said. “I am thinking of building some if there’s a demand and selling them in different designs.”
Maree did say it took a couple days for the carpenter bees to warm up to their new home alternative, so be patient.
“I sat out and watched our bee houses,” she said. “And the carpenter bees wouldn’t go in them at first. It took a while but they finally did. So it may not work right away, but they do eventually find it.”
For now, Kris is happy she doesn’t have to kill any bees.
“I’m so happy we found an alternative to killing them, makes me extremely happy to share this with other people,” Maree said about seeing carpenter bees in a whole new light. “We can start a bee revaluation.”
The Marees are thinking about building the beehives for sale if the interest is there. Cost for the beehives depend on the design and size, but start at $40. Anyone interested in purchasing a carpenter bee hive can email firstname.lastname@example.org
“I really hope people do get excited about this,” Maree said. “We can help save the bees and plants too.”