Ground bees are common but actually aren't that big of a problem when handled properly.
Surprisingly, they might even be helpful aerating your yard!
Most of time, they won't even be pests until threatened. This doesn't mean they can't be annoying though.
When faced with ground bees, follow this guide to identify, prevent, and even repel them.
What Are Ground Bees?
The term "ground bee" refers to the 70% of bee species which nest in the ground. They are a stark contrast to the honey bee, which most people see and which live in waxy nests. Many of them are solitary nesters, which means they don't live in groups.
Despite being solitary, it's not uncommon to find dozens of bees all living near the same place. In most species, the females can sting while the males do not.
Some of the most common ground bees are masons, leaf cutters, blueberries, squash, sweat bees, and mining bees. An important note about sweat bees: they earned their name because they are really attracted to human sweat, so this type is the most likely to fly near people.
What Do Ground Bees Look Like?
Most ground bees do not have one single appearance because the term encompasses so many different species. Instead, the easiest way to identify a ground bee is to know what a bee looks like and then see if the nest can be found.
The standard bee has obvious hair on its thorax and abdomen. Its body is short and round, and there are three segments called the head, thorax, and abdomen. Each bee has six legs, one pair of antennae, and one pair of eyes. Most have mandibles but are not known for biting. Other than these basics, ground bees can be any color or size.
Bees, unlike wasps, are not predatory and do not eat other bugs. Instead, they live off of pollen. Pollen is part of how a plant reproduces and is considered the "male" half of the equation. It is a fine yellow substance which is transported to the "female" half by wind, other environmental factors, and bees.
Where Do Ground Bees Live?
The most common characteristic of ground bees is where they live: in the ground. These bees usually dig themselves little holes and hideouts no wider than a few inches across. People can identify their habitats by seeing raised, loose dirt piles which surround a hole just large enough for the bee to fit inside.
Remember: Most ground bees are solitary, so it's uncommon for more than one to live in each hole. People who have a massive bee problem are either dealing with dozens of nesting ground bees - which is not uncommon - or there is a different menace lurking around.
Ground bees prefer to make their homes in dry soil rather than wet earth.
Are Ground Bees Dangerous?
Unlike wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets, ground bees will not hurt humans or pets unless provoked. Most males do not have stingers and while females do, they are unlikely to use it. Many bees die after stinging once, and female ground bees have this same problem.
In fact, ground bees might actually be helpful to your yard as they tend to aerate the soil their their underground tunnels!
Best Way to Prevent Ground Bees?
As silly as it sounds, one of the easiest ways to prevent ground bees from creating their homes is to regularly run a sprinkler over the lawn. Because the bees prefer dry soil, they will find somewhere else to make their homes.
Another method is the use of chemical or natural repellents. A few are sold at hardware and general stores for regular use. Most repellents need to be sprayed on the ground before the bees have a chance to move in, so it's best to use them during early spring.
What Should You Do if You Have Ground Bees?
Someone who has ground bees might need to turn to pesticides to fully eliminate these pests if they find that their' yard has been taken over.
Most ground bee pesticides are applied directly to the yard as a spray or powder which is spread across the ground. In some cases, the pesticide is sprayed directly down the hole into the bee's home.
The downside to most pesticides used for ground bees is that they can harm other "non-target" insects and bugs, so people who use them need to be careful. It's possible to accidentally kill off beneficial bugs while trying to eliminate the ground bees.
People who wish to avoid pesticides can try to use natural remedies like:
- Cut up cucumber and cucumber peels
- Dish soap mixed with water
- Cayenne pepper
- Peppermint extract
Closing Thoughts On Ground Be Removal...
Burrowing bees don't stay forever.
People who are Overall, ground bees are very docile and shouldn't bother, but if you are someone who is facing a large population, you can try keeping your lawn damp and use repellents.
These two methods alone should resolve most if not all of your issues.
Other Bee Guides
Curious about other bee related articles? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.