The buzz: Carpenter bees are no friends of human builders

— Photo from Daniel Driscoll

Battling bees: Carpenter bee traps hang from the Octagon Barn, where, on Middle Road in Knox, the Pokornys have captured around 60 bees, to prevent them from boring holes under the window sills of the large barn.

— Photo by Lee Martin

In the shop: On June 12, from left, Kiwanians Michael Hammond, Russell Pokorny, John Elberfeld, and Daniel Driscoll hold the carpenter bee traps they made in Hammond’s workshop in Knox. 

HILLTOWNS — Among the natural pests that plague homeowners, the species named carpenter bees might be the most ironic. They burrow into dead wood, compromising structures built by the hands of human carpenters.

The Kiwanis Club of the Helderbergs is raising funds by arming homeowners with traps to collect the insects. The idea started with Dan Driscoll of Knox, who read about the traps in a magazine and researched how to address the burrowing at his house. The club has sold all of its first set of 36 traps and made more.

The traps, made by Kiwanians, are small boxes of wood riddled with holes that attract the burrowing bees. Once inside, they can enter a hole fitted with clear plastic bottles, where they cannot find an exit.

The club’s treasurer, Russell Pokorny, said he has emptied more than 20 bees from each of his three traps at the Octagon Barn he owns with his wife, Amy, on Middle Road in Knox. The bees destroy the exposed and sheltered wood of the barn’s window sills, he said, but generally avoid painted wood.

 “The bees are still drilling holes, but now the woodpeckers dig into the holes made by the bees to get the bee larvae,” Driscoll wrote in an e-mail to the club of his ongoing experience with carpenter bees at his home.

Pokorny estimated the club will profit about by $1,000 after all the traps are sold. The club also makes and sells bluebird houses. The money goes into a project fund, he said, from which the club has written checks toward a college scholarship going to a Berne-Knox-Westerlo graduate, the Hilltown Community Resource Center, the BKW marching band, and the Berne library.

— Marcello Iaia