Ground Bees: Bees That Live In The Ground!

What are ground bees?

 

I can still remember the first time I came across them. Years ago, while I was hanging out the washing in our backyard, I noticed all these bees flying down and entering a gap between some rocks.

 

It was obvious they were going into the soil –  that’s when I had to learn more!

Ground Bees

 

ground bees

 

While most people have no idea that these bees even exist, we can assure you that they most surely do! There are many different types of ground bees, and yes, they burrow themselves under the dirt and make their nest underground.

 

Here are some of the more common types found in North America:

  • the common ground bee
  • the alkali bee
  • the bumblebee
  • the mining (or digging) bee

 

What Kind Of Bees Live In The Ground?

 

Here are pictures and descriptions of the most common kinds of ground-nesting bees.

 

Bumblebee

The bumblebee is the most recognizable ground bee.

They construct their nest underground often in old mouse or rabbit burrows, or other holes and gaps formed naturally.

The queen bumble will store up honey and lay eggs and then tend to them once hatched.

Sometimes the nest itself will be quite close to the surface. It will be partially formed with wax and pollen.

Carpenter Bees

what kind of bees live in the ground

Carpenter bees look very similar to bumblebees, but they have a smooth rather than fluffy abdomen.

Carpenters will often build their nest in trees, even if they have fallen to the ground. They are known as a bit of a pest because they will also build nests in house siding.

These bees are solitary bees that do not nest in large numbers. If you see them coming out of the ground it’s more likely to be the young coming out.

 

Miner Bees

bees that live in the ground

Miner bees, also sometimes known as digger bees, are another type of bee that lives in the ground.

It’s such a feature of what they do that it’s where they get their name from!

They come in a range of sizes and color variations and can have hairy or hairless abdomens. The common color is a black and white stripe.

These are also solitary bees who dig into dry soil to build their nests. The female will store pollen and nectar for her young when they hatch.

 

Underground Bees

 

One of the most interesting things about them how many there are! So many people have ground bees in their yard, without ever knowing it.

 

Ground bees are just as important as honey bees, pollinating fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Unless they are being a nuisance, or are in the way, you should not be concerned about them taking up residence in your yard.

 

Here is a video of a ground bee building and guarding its nesting spot.

 

 

Ground Nesting Bees

 

Ground nesting bees can find or create an opening underground between rocks, wood, or other garden features. That was the case with the nest in our backyard.

 

In that instance, there was nothing to identify the nest other than the bees going in and out of it. We turned it into a bit of a homeschool lesson for the kids.

 

In other cases, the bees will burrow down into the ground through bare patches in the lawn. You may notice a small pile of dirt up to 2 inches high, where the bees have dug out tunnels underground.

 

Other times, any sign of a mound may have disappeared. They may only be a small hole to give away an exit or entrance to a ground bee nest.

 

The dead giveaway to a nest is, of course, to see the bees coming and going.

 

It’s not uncommon to hear of people disturbing ground bee nests with chainsaws, lawnmowers, or weed eaters. If this happens, try to work out where the nest is and work around it.

 

If you were to get too close with heavy equipment or machinery then they would become upset.

 

Do Ground Bees Sting?

 

bees in the ground

 

Most ground bees tend to be very gentle and non-aggressive, but they do sting. If they believe their life or nest is threatened, they will defend it with their stingers!

 

If you were to accidentally dig into a nest, the bees would, in all likelihood, attempt to sting you. However, it’s good to simply be aware that some bees live underground. That way you won’t be surprised if something like that happens!

 

The other common way a ground bee nest is accidentally disturbed is when mowing the lawn. The nests are easily missed and run over with the mower. This will bring the bees out.

 

How To Get Rid Of Them

 

These bees are usually very easy to move on, without the use of overly harmful poisons, sprays, and other lethal methods.

 

If you have to move them, turn the garden hose on low and put it down into the nest to flood it. Ground bee nests have multiple exits/entrances, and they will quickly move to another location. Hopefully not in your section!

 

Ground Bee Predators

 

Like 99% of creatures, ground bees have natural predators.

 

The number one predator of bees is always going to be spiders, of course, but that always feels like it’s more in the natural order of things!

 

Other predators include:

  • Predatory birds like woodpeckers (they go after carpenters bee larva in particular)
  • Varieties of wasp
  • Bears can target different types of ground bee nest
  • Smaller mammals like foxes, hedgehogs, mice, skunks

 

Every part of the world will have its own specific threats to bees. If you can avoid destroying nests when you come upon them, it’ll be one less predator they have to worry about!

 

Bees In The Ground

 

We hope you’ve been able to learn more about these fascinating bees that live undgeround.

 

Some final points:

  • In springtime, you may begin to notice that there are far more bees coming up from the ground. That’s because these bees hatch from the ground in the spring.
  • The queen bee will make several tunnels once inside the underground nest. She will create all sorts of entries and exits in order to be ready to evacuate.
  • The queen will also create several horizontal tunnels and chambers. She will then lay one single egg at the end of each.

 

What else do you want to know about bees that live in the ground? Please ask any questions or leave any comments down below!

 

 

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