I bet that just a small percentage of 100 people would say that bees reside in the ground. But it is true! The majority of bee species actually reside underground, not in hives. Knowing what these bees are and whether or not to take action against them is essential for homesteaders.
In addition to the significant efforts being made to preserve our bee populations, bees are also crucial to the homestead garden. Therefore, if you’re curious about the types of bees that reside underground, read on to learn more about identification and — if necessary — cruelty-free ground bee protection.
How to Recognize Ground-Dwelling Bees
You may have noticed them emerging from ground holes if you feel you have ground bees. These holes can occasionally resemble small dirt mounds with a hole in the top (the entrance to their burrows). Sometimes, a bee will emerge from a hole that another animal or insect—usually a little rodent—made.
One of the first things you’ll probably want to know after you’ve seen them is their species. Knowing the species can provide you with a wealth of information about what they are doing on your farm and what function they may be doing in your homestead garden (what type of plants they might be pollinating, for example).
Most of the time, getting pretty close to a ground bee allows you to identify it. It’s doubtful that ground bees will sting you because, as is stated later in the essay, they are not aggressive. However, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t attempt to capture bees in order to identify them and have a better look at them. You should be able to distinguish the types of bees you have living in the ground even from a few feet away because you can see enough detail on them.
Common Species of Ground Bees
More than 20,000 different species of bees exist, and more than 70% of them are buried underground, which may surprise you. Five of these 20,000 species are more prevalent than others in North America. Observe them starting in the spring!
1. Mining bees
Although “ground bees” and “miner bees” are often used interchangeably, miner bees are a more restricted subset of the larger ground bee family. Digger bees, also known as miner bees (centris pallida), with brilliant yellow-green eyes and a thorax that is occasionally yellow in hue. Due to their similar size and appearance to honey bees, they are frequently mistaken for honey bees. Mining bees are solitary insects, and if you see them excavating, it’s usually to find a female bee to mate with below ground.
2. Sweat bees
Identification of sweat bees (genus lasioglossum) might be challenging due to their approximately 1000 diverse species. Having said that, these bees are often very little (about 2 to 8 mm in size) and dark darkish black or green in color. They have thin bands of fine hair running across their abdomen, and on occasion you may also notice a dark red tone there. Since sweat bees are omnivores, a wide variety of plants may contain them. They may be alone or in groups when buried.
3. Alkali bees
Alkali bees, or Nomia melanderi, are significant pollinators and are frequently found in soils with higher salt content. They resemble honey bees a great deal, however they are a little smaller. In comparison to other ground bees, their abdomen usually has more vibrant colors, which might help with identification. Because honey bees cannot pollinate under the same conditions as alkali bees, alkali bees and honey bees are rarely observed together. Alkali bees can pollinate more than 1,000 flowers per day, therefore they are also very active.
4. Bumble bees
The endangered bumble bee (bombus pensyvlannicus), a native of North America, is a very significant bee and is the target of major conservation efforts. You won’t typically encounter our sweet bumble bees in enclosed locations because they prefer open regions. They have fuzzy yellow stripes that cover their belly and are particularly unique because generally their black body is visible underneath. Queen bees measure 22–26 mm, whereas worker bees are typically 13–19 mm.]
5. Leafcutter bees
Similar to sweat bees, leafcutter bees (megachile spp.) have so many different species that it can be challenging to distinguish between them. Examples can include bees with vivid yellow and black patterns on their smooth abdomen to those with dark blue-green hairy bees (like the one illustrated). However, because these bees carve circles into leaves to identify themselves, they are typically simple to identify. These bees can also be found in softly textured soils and areas with rotting wood.
Do Ground Bees Pose a Risk?
In general, ground bees are not aggressive. They often get on with their daily business without troubling people and are fairly content to be around both people and other animals. If you’re on the grass, which is where they live, they might occasionally fly into you or buzz around your feet, but most of the time it’s just a coincidence that you’re in the same place.It’s possible that male bees seeking to protect female bees looking for a mate are buzzing about quickly and seemingly haphazardly if you notice bees in that region. These males have no stingers, making them harmless. Although female bees can sting, they are also peaceful tiny creatures who are not eager for a confrontation. In reality, female bees only sting when they are in immediate danger. Unbelievably, not even the queen bee will sting to defend the hive. Ground bees rarely sting humans.
What is the duration of a ground bee sting?
A ground bee stung you, did it? The good news is that most ground bee stings are minimal if that is the case. Typically, a sting will feel hot and irritating for a short period of time before the discomfort starts to subside. A tiny red patch could be left behind for a few days after the sting. However, the patches typically disappear after a week. Always consult a medical expert if you suspect an allergy or have any other concerns about bee stings.
How to Stop Bees from Living Under the Ground
Ground bees are protected? Laws on this subject vary a lot. Numerous state legislatures in the United States have approved legislation to protect bees and their habitats. These rules forbid the use of specific pesticides on or close to the ground where bees are present.
Assuming that ground bees are legally protected is the wisest course of action because some ground bee species are endangered. Make every effort to learn the specifics of the law in your state. Even though bees are not legally protected, you should nevertheless look for humane measures to deter them from residing on your property.
How NOT to harm ground bees when getting rid of them
Trying to find a quick fix? Do you intend to use chemicals? You probably already realize you are in the incorrect location. When correctly implemented, the suggestions below are humane strategies to prevent bees from making your lawn or another area of grassland their home. If necessary, only consider employing them (allergies, etc. in the family). 99% of the time, wherever they are, you want to let bees live in the earth!
Before the upcoming spring, moisten the ground.
Ground bees typically favor dry soil. Consider frequently watering any dry soil to prevent bees from establishing hives there as you prepare for the upcoming spring. You should avoid watering soil that already has bees living in it because doing so would drown them, which is wrong, and you would miss all the wonderful benefits they provide your plants.
Plants, grasses, or other covers can be used to cover bare patches of grass.
Bees prefer open areas, therefore if you wish to deter them, you should somewhat shut up the area. One approach that is good for both the environment and bees is to plant taller grasses or other plants that cover the ground in some way. Particularly bumble bees won’t be drawn to territory that is largely enclosed. If you can afford to give up some of your grasslands, this is an easy fix.
Garlic powder should be applied to troublesome regions.
Evidently, bees detest the smell of garlic. I haven’t asked one, but that’s how the tale goes. Ground bees are less likely to return if you apply garlic powder to the areas where you frequently see them. Don’t sprinkle garlic powder directly onto any bees and definitely don’t sprinkle it down bee nest entrances. They might die if you do that.
Grow peppermint close to “problem” areas.
Another odor that repels bees is peppermint. You might be able to dissuade them if you plant peppermint on your property, especially in locations where they like to nest. Use this strategy as a backup since it may take a season or two to show results.
Burn candles with citronella.
Understandably, it is annoying to have bees buzzing around your feet and to be concerned about treading on them. To combat this, light citronella candles. Bees detest the fragrance once more. This is another sustained endeavor that takes time to show results, but since it doesn’t harm the bees, it merits consideration.
Want to Attract Ground-Dwelling Bees?
Wonderful news! I’m very happy you came. These adorable tiny creatures should be welcomed in our backyards and farms! What actions are you taking to get bees to visit your garden? Comment below and let us know!
You can subscribe to our newsletter below to get regular updates, tips, and ideas.