Whether you’ve been stung by them, seen them flying around, or are an advocate for saving them, bees touch all of us in one way or another. They are an essential part of the natural ecosystem and pollinate flowers, crops, and other plants. Whether you live off-grid, in a little cabin in the woods, or are a homeowner, there is a chance you’ve seen or dealt with ground bees. You may view them as a benefit and want to keep them. However, if you want to know how to get rid of ground bees, know there are natural options as well as chemical options available and they don’t all involve killing the bees.
Table of Contents
- What Are Ground Bees
- What Do Ground Bees Look Like
- How To Get Rid Of Ground Nesting Bees
- How To Get Rid Of Ground Bees Conclusion
What Are Ground Bees
About 70% of all bees nest underground, and “ground bees” is a general term for over 20,000 different species that do so. Ground bees are very solitary creatures, nesting alone and raising their offspring by themselves.
Ground bees are excellent pollinators and a vital part of the natural environment. They also help fertilize and aerate the soil. Pollen grains make up most of their diet, but some feed on wood or other plants. Since they are solitary, they don’t have the means to store honey as honey bees do. But that doesn’t make them any less important as pollinators.
These bees hibernate in the winter but become incredibly active in the spring. They are responsible for pollinating many flowers and fruit, and berry bushes.
They are typically very docile little creatures and usually don’t go out of their way to come after you or swarm you. However, if provoked or protecting their young, they may. The females typically have stingers, which can hurt quite badly if stung by one.
As the name implies, ground bees live in the ground, digging tunnels and burrows. You may see small piles of dirt and maybe even the entrance, where ground bees are nesting. If you see these piles and think they may be ground bees, watch closely to see if you can spot a single bee going in and out of it.
Word of warning: If you see wasps, get help as they are nastier and have short tempers. A professional may be the best option for dealing with them.
What Do Ground Bees Look Like
So what do ground bees look like? Their identifying colors, marks, and fuzziness can vary greatly (after all, there are over 20,000 species!). Here are a few you will hear about quite often and give you a general idea of what you’re looking for.
This ground bee looks similar to a honey bee, with yellowish fuzz, a black abdomen, and yellow stripes. The females have dark antennae, while the males are brownish. While honey bees are much brighter, polyester bees blend into their ground environment better. They prefer south-facing, sloping ground in sandy soil for nesting. Polyester bees are common throughout North America in the Northeast, and Midwest. They line their nests with a cellophane-like secretion that allows them to adapt to many different environments, including flood-prone areas.
This Alkali bee is smaller than a honey bee, is not as fuzzy and has six legs and a very dark thorax. The abdomen is made up of dark sections separated by bright stripes. These bees build nests close together, sometimes with tunnels connecting them. They prefer salty, or alkali, ground and are critical pollinators of alfalfa. In fact, at one point, farmers tried getting rid of them but soon realized their crops were suffering due to their decline. They soon found ways to encourage them to live near their crops.
Sweat bees are bright metallic green or almost blue, and they have no fuzz. The males will have a green thorax with a yellow and black striped abdomen. The females fly faster than the males, and they have short tongues, so they prefer smaller plants and flowers. Like the polyester bees, these also prefer sloping grounds for nesting. These are in North America across the U.S. As their name suggests, these bees have an affinity for human sweat and will feed on it if given a chance!
A genus of the sweat bees is the Lasioglossumm, found in California. Unlike some of the other ground bees that prefer to nest alone, these may be found in social colonies. The younger females often stay in the nest to care for the young. Still, other colonies may have a queen and worker bees, and some even have several queens.
The tawny mining bee is the same size as honey bees, although the males are smaller. The females are covered in fox-red hair with black legs and abdomen, while the males are browner and less hairy. These bees prefer grass and lush areas. They are more common in the U.K. but can be found in some parts of the U.S. as well. As with some of the others, they also like south-facing slopes. They feed on various plants, including willows, dandelions, and maple trees.
Carpenter bees look like bumblebees but are smaller, furrier, and less aggressive. They have black bodies, black legs, yellow throats, and a shiny abdomen. The males have much larger eyes than the females. These are also common throughout the U.S. and may be within small social groups. They are more apt to make their nests in a more rigid material such as dead bamboo or wood.
Bumblebees are yellow and furry and feed on pollen and nectar. They belong to the Apidae family, and there are over 250 species. These ground bees also live in small colonies. They nest in the summer, so they don’t have the capacity to store honey.
How To Get Rid Of Ground Nesting Bees
So how do you get rid of ground bees you ask? Before we get into that part, we should talk a bit more about why you might want to get rid of them. First, they tend to loosen the soil, which may not be what you want in your lawn or garden. Second, if you provoke them and they decide to sting, it can hurt pretty bad. With that said, there are several methods for ground bees’ nest removal, getting them to relocate, or killing them entirely.
How To Get Rid Of Ground Bees Naturally
The best way to get rid of ground bees is to do it naturally. It is also preferable to try not to kill them, as pollinator bees are imperiled and in danger. They are our friends, and these docile little bees don’t mean any harm. Don’t use pesticides as we need them to pollinate crops and plants, and they are an essential part of the ecosystem. So how to get rid of ground bees without chemicals, you ask? Read on!
Wet your ground: Most of these bees like dry ground. If you haven’t been watering your lawn and start wetting it down, they will likely find another place to live.
- Make a vinegar solution with equal parts vinegar and water.
- Spray around the nests, not in them, and on the plants they frequent.
- Wear protective clothing because you risk provoking them when you do this.
Natural Sprays: You can also make sprays using mint oil, citronella, tea tree, or eucalyptus essential oils that can have the same effect. Mix the oils with water and follow the same steps as the vinegar spray.
Plant Trees and Shrubs: Ground bees like dry, bare areas in the open to build their nests, so planting more plants, trees, and shrubs around your property will help keep them away. For maximum effect, put in plants that will repel bees, such as peppermint or eucalyptus.
Spices: There are several spices they also don’t like, such as peppermint, cinnamon, lavender, rosemary, catnip, and lemongrass. Sprinkling it around their nests may get them to move elsewhere.
Mothballs: Even mothballs may repel them, but don’t leave these lying around if you have kids or pets.
Eliminate trash and keep your yard tidy: Garbage and junk can attract ground bees like it does other insects, rodents, and animals. Less debris means less attractant.
Prevent them from getting to their food source: If you have flowers or flowering shrubs or trees that they are feeding on, covering them will help drive the bees to go elsewhere since you’re taking away their food source.
Natural Repellents: Rather than use pesticides or chemical sprays, there are a few natural repellents you can buy that work well. These should be safe to spray around your home to repel bees and other insects, and you can also spray it on yourself. These can be easily found online or in stores.
Best Way to Kill Ground Bees
We’ll take another moment to reiterate; this is not the preferred method of dealing with ground bees. They are an important part of the ecosystem. However, should you decide this is the route you wish to go, there are quite a few options for getting rid of them completely.
Bug Zappers will kill ground bees that fly into them, as well as any other unlucky insect that comes in contact with it. However, you won’t kill all of the bees, only the ones unlucky enough to fly into it.
Ground Bee Trap
There are multiple types of traps, and they all result in killing the bees. You can cover their nests with various things, such as tarps or rocks, trapping them inside until they die.
There are also commercial bee traps that have poison inside them. You lay them around the nests, and once the bees get into the poison, they may take it back to the others before dying. Some of the poisons can stay active after the bee dies, meaning younger bees don’t stand a chance of surviving.
Some traps trap the bee inside with a poisonous solution. The bees get into it and die.
Homemade Ground Bee Trap
You can also make a homemade ground bee trap. These are typically used for carpenter bees and involve making a bee trap box and adding pesticide or poison to kill them once inside. Just make sure you identify the type of bee and do some research to determine what will attract them, or it may be ineffective.
The issue with pesticides is that it has the potential to also kill other insects and even birds. These living creatures all play a part in the ecosystem, and pesticides often result in more harm than good. However, if you are looking for a ground bee killer powder or a ground bee killer spray, there are many options out there that will do the job. A quick search will provide you with various products. Just make sure you read the instructions to ensure it will target the species you intend to.
Venus flytrap: While this option will still kill them, at least it’s a way to do it naturally. It will also kill other insects as well.
Natural Bee Predators: Natural predators may be enough to eliminate ground bees. This goes under the “killing them” category because predators such as bats or birds will eat the ground bees. However, it may also get them to leave the area. Wherever you wish to get rid of bees, make the environment conducive to these types of creatures so they will frequent the site.
How To Get Rid Of Ground Bees Conclusion
Agriculture has resulted in many natural bee habitats being destroyed, as has the exposure to pesticides from crops being sprayed. Agriculture has also reduced the ground bees’ food sources because many new crops have been planted the bees don’t pollinate. In recent years, the good news is that agriculture producers have begun to understand how important bees are and have started actively working to restore habitat. Many strategies to saving the bees are being implemented, including planting lots of wildflowers, blooming shrubs, and trees. Additionally, leaving some bare soil, planting grass, and providing clean water can help them as well. Finding ways to save them rather than how to get rid of ground bees is preferable. However, no matter which avenue you want to take, there are multiple effective ways to get rid of them.