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How to Make (and Use) Citrus Spray for Carpenter Bee Control

Carpenter bees, notorious for their perfect hole-drilling in wood, are a homeowner’s headache.

Unlike their bumblebee lookalikes, they sport a shiny, bare abdomen and love to target decks, siding, and fences, causing structural woes. Enter citrus sprays—a favorite natural fix.

Made from the repellent oils in citrus peels, these sprays fend off bees without harsh chemicals. Simple to whip up or buy, they're a smart, eco-friendly choice.

Curious if citrus can keep these wood-borers at bay? Read on to see how this zesty solution could solve your bee problem!

Key Takeaways

  • Citrus oils repel carpenter bees due to their natural insecticidal properties and are safe for humans and the environment.
  • Making your citrus spray involves boiling citrus peels with optional natural oils to extract their essential oils.
  • Apply the homemade citrus spray directly to carpenter bee entry points and surrounding wood areas, preferably during early morning or dusk.
  • For long-term prevention, maintain wood surfaces and regularly inspect for bee activity, integrating non-toxic alternatives like vinegar sprays or carpenter bee traps.
  • If home remedies fail, don't hesitate to contact professional pest control services to manage carpenter bee infestations effectively.

Why Citrus Works Against Carpenter Bees

The distinctive smell of citrus oils is generally pleasant to humans but repulsive to carpenter bees. When used in sprays, these oils act as a natural insecticide, targeting pests without harming beneficial pollinators like honeybees and bumblebees.

Benefits of Using Citrus Sprays

Here's what makes citrus spray a good choice when dealing with carpenter bees:



Natural insecticidal properties

Citrus oil contains toxic compounds that inhibit certain insects from nesting and causing damage.

Non-toxic to humans and pets

Unlike other insecticides, citrus-based sprays are typically non-toxic and safe around humans and pets.

Environmentally friendly

These sprays are less likely to impact the ecosystem negatively, making them a preferred eco-friendly choice.

Ease of use

Citrus sprays are simple to apply, often requiring a few spritzes in areas where bees are active.


The pleasant citrus scent is a secondary benefit, leaving a fresh fragrance after application.

How to Make Your Citrus Carpenter Bee Repellent Spray

lemon citrus spray

While citrus-based pest control products from Best Bee Brothers are commercially available, you can create equally effective citrus spray from scratch.

To get rid of carpenter bees with citrus oil, here’s a closer look at the simple steps to craft your DIY citrus repellent.

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

Before diving into the preparation, you should collect all necessary components. The citrus base can be made from various fruits—limes, lemons, oranges, or grapefruits- which are all suitable due to their high citrus oil content.

Besides the main ingredient, other things or tools you would need include:

  • Natural additives, such as lemongrass, citronella oil, and a few drops of almond oil
  • Pot of water large enough to boil the citrus peels
  • A spray bottle for application

Step 2: Prepare the Citrus Solution

Now you’ve collected what you need, start by following these steps to prepare the citrus solution effectively:


Action to Take

Peel Citrus Fruits and Collect Peels

Carefully peel oranges, lemons, or limes. Gather the peels for use in the spray.

Fill the Pot with Enough Water to Cover the Peels

Place the citrus peels in a large pot and add water until the peels are fully submerged.

Add Optional Oils

Enhance the mixture by adding a few drops of essential oils, such as eucalyptus or peppermint, and a lemongrass stalk.

Step 3: Boil the Citrus Mixture

Once the pot is prepared, the mixture must be boiled. This helps extract the essential oils from the peels, which is crucial to repelling the bees.

Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. While boiling, here’s what you need to remember:

  • Monitor the pot to ensure it doesn't boil over
  • Simmer at a low heat to avoid burning the peels
  • Maintain a gentle boil to maximize oil extraction

Step 4: Strain and Store the Solution

After boiling, it's time to strain the liquid, removing the solid bits to yield a clear solution. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a jug or bowl.

Here are some straining and storing tips to preserve its potency as an insect repellent:



Strain the Citrus Mixture

Thoroughly strain to remove all solid particles.

Transfer to Spray Bottle

Ensure the spray bottle is clean before transferring.

Label the Bottle

Clearly label for easy identification.

Storage Location

Store in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.

Check the Bottle’s Seal

Ensure it’s tight to prevent evaporation.

Pre-Use Preparation

Shake well before each use to recombine oils.


How to Apply Citrus Spray for Best Results

When using the citrus spray as a carpenter bee repellent, the objective is to apply it effectively to discourage the bees from nesting in your wood structures.

Here's how to get rid of carpenter bees with your citrus spray:

  1. Suit Up: Always wear protective clothing, including gloves and glasses, to avoid getting eye sprayed.

  2. Identify Areas: Look for the holes and caves that indicate carpenter bee activity.

  3. Shake Well: Ensure the citrus spray mixture is well combined before use.

  4. Spray Thoroughly: Aim the nozzle directly at the entry points and surrounding areas.

  5. Repeat as Necessary: Carpenter bees are persistent. Regular application may be required.

Optimal Application Techniques

To ensure the most effective use of your citrus spray against carpenter bees, here are the optimal application techniques tailored to different conditions:

Time of Day


Areas of Focus

Early Morning or Dusk

Every few days during peak activity

Bee entry points, eaves, and wooden surfaces

On Calm Days

As Needed for New Activity

Exposed wood and existing damaged areas

After Rain

Periodically for Maintenance

Overhangs, window sills, and railings

How to Integrate Citrus Spray into a Carpenter Bee Control Plan

Alternatives to Citrus Sprays

While citrus sprays are beneficial, other natural remedies can deter capturing bees without harming the environment or non-target species like woodpeckers, wasps, and beneficial bee varieties.

Here are some non-toxic alternatives with effective active ingredients:



Environmental Impact

Vinegar Spray



Boric Acid



Diatomaceous Earth



Peppermint Oil



Carpenter Bee Traps



Long-term Prevention Strategies

Safeguarding structures from carpenter bee infestations requires thoughtful prevention tactics.

Here’s how you can protect yourself from recurrences of carpenter bee holes or preventing stings:

  • Inspect homes for holes and sawdust regularly.
  • Maintain woodwork with paint or varnish.
  • Install carpenter bee traps near known attractions.
  • Employ beekeeping techniques as a deterrent.
  • Design eaves and wood structures with prevention in mind.
  • Keep in touch with professional exterminators in case of carpenter bee damage.

When to Consider Calling in the Pest Control Experts

Sometimes, even the brightest lemon-scented solutions won't encourage those tenacious carpenter bees to buzz off. So, should your property start to feel like a bee airport, it's clear that the bees are too comfy.

Grab your phones and dial those professional pest control companies (like us, here at Native Pest Management). Remember, there's no shame in admitting defeat. After all, everyone deserves a bee-free sanctuary, and sometimes that means calling us.