Ground bees are common pests that can be found in many parts of the United States. Often, ground bees help aerate your yard and are not pests unless they feel threatened. Despite this, many homeowners understandably don’t want ground bees in their yard, whether it’s because they are allergic to bee stings or afraid of bees.
“Ground bees” is a general term that refers to a large number of bee species. Some sources estimate up to 70 percent of the 20,000 identified bee species will create nests underground, making them a type of ground bee. Most ground bees become active during early spring when they pollinate plants in our gardens, which is vital in cultivating a healthy ecosystem.
Read on to learn more about:
- How To Get Rid of Ground Bees
- How To Prevent Ground Bees
- How To Identify Ground Bees
- Signs & Causes of a Ground Bee Infestation
If trying to exterminate ground bees on your own becomes too challenging, we recommend Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive. These exterminators have some of the best-trained professionals that are able to use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions that are often more effective than standard DIY methods.
For Terminix quotes, you can reach them at 866-577-5051 or with this form.
For quotes from Orkin, call 866-701-4556, or fill out this form.
For a free quote from Aptive, call 855-521-7075 or visit the company’s website.
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
How To Get Rid of Ground Bees
- Consider the type of pest control method you want to use to get rid of ground bees. Do you want to exterminate the ground bees on your property or drive them away? Extermination can be riskier when performed by someone who is not a pest control professional, as it may put you at risk of being stung. Ground bees are also beneficial to the ecosystem, so consider leaving them alive, but driving them off your property, so that they can continue to benefit the environment elsewhere.
- Are you okay with the use of pesticides and chemicals in your backyard? Pesticides and chemicals can be harmful to your soil. If you have pets or children, you should also consider other alternatives because pesticides can be hazardous to their health.
- Treat for ground bees at night. Like many bee species, ground bees are typically asleep at night, so it will be easier to apply pesticide or a DIY solution at night when they’re less likely to be awake and aggressive. Female ground bees may sting if provoked, so this may save you from being stung. Male ground bees do not have stingers, but they may swarm and chase you if threatened, so applying pesticide or home remedies at night can help you avoid this unfortunate situation.
- Keep the ground damp. Ground nesting bees prefer loose, dry soil to create nests. If you keep the ground moist, this is a natural repellent because it’s not a ground bee friendly environment. Simply use a spray bottle to wet the soil.
- Cover the entrances to the nests. Fill the nests in with soil or stones to prevent the ground bees from returning to their eggs.
- Use sugar against them. Bees are famously attracted to sugary, sweet things. To attract the ground bees, take a bottle and fill it partially with soda, juice, or soda. Then leave it outside near their nests. The bees will fly into the bottle and drown.
- Make a DIY spray. Mix vinegar and water in equal parts and fill a spray bottle with this solution. Use your vinegar spray on or near ground nesting bees. This smell will bother them and drive them off.
- Use scents to repel ground bees. Ground bees are also sensitive to certain plants, including peppermint and cucumbers. Cinnamon is also an effective repellent. Sprinkle cinnamon on the holes and ground to rid your yard of ground bees.
- Use a chemical solution. Insecticides are available in many varieties, including dust powders, liquids, and sprays. Follow the instructions closely and avoid using them directly in the ground bee nests, as they may contaminate and be toxic to your soil and plants.
*Please note that we don’t recommend treating ground bees on your own if you have allergic reactions to bee stings.
How To Prevent Ground Bees
Ground bees like loose soil because it’s easier to create tunnels and holes. If you have or have had ant hills or mounds in your yard, you’re at an increased risk of a ground bee infestation because these pests prefer similar conditions. Keeping your soil damp is one way to counteract loose, dry soil, which ground bees prefer for nesting.
In addition to this, ground bees may use abandoned burrows that rodents, such as rats or rabbits, may have previously dug. If you have abandoned burrows on your property, consider filling them in to prevent ground bee nests from being built inside them.
You can also plant herbs and plants that ground bees dislike to prevent them from nesting in your yard. Ideal plants and herbs include eucalyptus or peppermint. While plants and herbs can help to prevent ground bees, make sure you keep up with your landscaping to prevent other pests from taking advantage of overgrown plants.
Covering your yard in thick grass can also prevent ground bees from creating nests because they need access to soil to burrow and build nests. Using mulch in your garden is another way to discourage ground bees from nesting.
Bee repellents and bee killers are also available to repel digger bees. If you’re concerned, use bee repellents to prevent ground bees and keep a bee killer on hand to get rid of bees that come into your yard immediately. Bug zappers can also be effective at keeping the number of bugs in your yard to a minimum.
Ground bees like loose soil because it’s easier to create tunnels and holes.
If you have or have had ant hills or mounds in your yard, you’re at an increased risk of a ground bee infestation because these pests prefer similar conditions. Keeping your soil damp is one way to counteract loose, dry soil, which ground bees prefer for nesting.
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How To Identify Ground Bees
Ground bees do not have one uniform look, which is why it’s often easier to identify these critters based on their nests.
Common species of ground bees that nest underground include:
- Mason bees
- Polyester bees (these bees secrete a polyester like material to build their nests)
- Blueberries (also known as Southeastern blueberry bees)
- Many types of bumblebees
- Squash bees
- Sweat bees (these ground bees are often attracted to humans because of our sweat, so they’re far more likely to be around us than other types of ground bees)
- Mining bees (also known as miner bees)
A bee’s body is made up of three parts: the head, thorax, and abdomen. Bees have distinct hair on their abdomen and thorax with short, rounded bodies, unlike wasps and hornets who have elongated, thinner bodies. In addition, bees will have six legs, a pair of antennae, and one pair of eyes. Many will also have mandibles. Other than these basics, ground bees can come in a large variety of colors and sizes.
We recommend identifying the bees in your backyard based on their nesting habits. For example, carpenter bees are notorious for creating nests in wood structures. In comparison, wasps live in paper nests and other bee species in hives, which sets them apart from ground bees who create underground nests. Other bees are largely social, so they form communal beehives, whereas many ground bees are solitary or create much smaller colonies underground.
Signs & Causes of a Ground Bee Infestation
The quickest way to identify a ground bee infestation is by looking at the soil in your backyard. Ground bees dig small holes and hideouts that are a few inches wide.
Look for loose but raised piles of dirt around these holes, which indicate that something has been digging in that area. The hole should be just large enough for a bee to crawl into.
Other signs of ground bee infestations include:
- Bees flying low to the ground
- Bees hovering around a specific section of the ground (possibly near a nest)
- Hearing buzzing sounds
- Increased number of dirt holes, especially during the summertime (female ground bees lay eggs during the summer)
- Multiple bees entering into the same hole, which indicates a colony
Unlike honey bees, ground bees are often solitary pests. However, if you notice many bees flying low to the ground or many bee holes in one close area in your yard, you may have a ground bee infestation.
If you believe you have an infestation, exercise caution because ground bees sting. Unlike more aggressive stinging insects, like wasps or yellowjackets, ground bees rarely sting. However, female ground bees have stingers and will use them if they feel threatened, particularly if their nest is threatened.
While this is good news for most people because ground bees rarely sting humans, ground bee stings can still be a large threat to someone who experiences allergic reactions to bee stings. If you or a loved one have allergic reactions, you may need to hire someone to kill bees on your property to ensure your safety.
Nobody wants to have a bee problem. However, burrowing bees don’t stick around forever and are important to our ecosystem because they’re pollinators. As a whole, ground bees are not aggressive and will leave you alone if you leave them alone.
However, if the presence of ground bees bother you, or you’re concerned about a loved one with a bee allergy, consider hiring a pest control professional. They will evaluate your bee problem and come up with a plan to kill ground bees or perform ground bee removal in your area. Bee control can make a huge difference in the number of bees in your backyard.