Did you know that most bees out there are not the typical honeybees but ground bees?
You read that right.
At least 14,000 of the 20,000 bee species in the world are ground bees. They build their nest underground and don’t make honey.
Thus, you’re likely to find at least one of these nests in your garden. And it shouldn’t be much of a surprise (but indeed a colossal annoyance).
How to get rid of ground bees when this happens?
It’s not really hard work. But before you go and eliminate the bees, read what we have to say…
What are Ground Bees?
While honey bees make honeycombs in tree trunks, branches, and other high places (including ceilings, beams, and electric poles), ground bees make their nests in the ground.
That’s where their name comes from. And that’s their main difference with honeybees.
Among the different types of ground bees, you’ll find these as the most prevalent:
- Blueberry bee
- Cellophane bee
- Mason bee
- Mining bee
- Sweat bee
Most of these bees use underground tunnels (just like ants and wasps) to live and reproduce.
Ground bees have no colony. They are primarily solitary and spend time alone, surprisingly. And even queen-like ground bees that are large and raising their larvae spend most of their time alone or in small groups.
You may notice several borrows close to each other, as female bees like to nest nearby. But they’re often not related and won’t interact.
As a consequence, ground bees make no honey. You will find their lairs as empty as any other insect’s. These ground bee holes are typically on a mound or bare patch of soil.
Are Ground Bees Beneficial?
Yes. These ground-nesting species are among the best pollinators you can have in any garden. And more importantly, they control many typical pests like aphids.
In fact, these bees are sometimes better pollinators than even honeybees or other controlled species. Thus, they mean no harm, and you shouldn’t get rid of them just because.
What Do Ground Bees Look Like?
There are many species of ground bees to consider. As such, their bodies, sizes, shapes, and even colors may differ from one ground bee species to another.
But as a general rule, you can consider ground bees to be slightly larger than most honeybees. And what’s even clearer, at first sight, they’re also darker. You won’t see the typical black-and-yellow tones in their bodies. Some ground bees are also hairy, while others boast bright silvery or green tones.
What Does Ground Bees Nest Look Like?
This also depends on what species we’re talking about.
For example, bumblebees are among the most social of ground bees. They may create extensive burrows where they spend time in swarms. As such, you will notice these nests be mound-like, with several holes indicating their entrances.
But it’s important to note most ground bees prefer loose soil with little to no vegetation around. Dry or dead patches are often perfect for growing, as roots from plants won’t cause trouble underground.
Apart from that, they’re not always building burrows. Some ground bees actually prefer taking over rodent lairs. If you’ve recently gotten rid of gophers in your garden, for example, bees may take over later on.
How to Get Rid of Ground Bees?
It’s always possible to get rid of ground bees regardless of the type or number of ground bees you’re dealing with.
So, what kills ground bees? Here are some options to consider:
#1. Blocking Nesting Holes
You wouldn’t believe it’s as easy as just covering their entrances. But it works.
Ground bees are not adept diggers like moles. They’re actually defenseless against dirt. As such, they may get buried alive without problems – and you will get rid of them.
This is one of the best ways to eliminate them because it causes no direct harm to your garden. Bees stay underground or out of their nest without being able to return.
The result? The nest stops being a desirable location, and the bees will either go to another place or die without a place to stay.
#2. Sprinkle the Soil
Making their nests inhabitable by watering them works pretty well with ground bees. They will likely have to find another place where to nest without getting saturated.
Can you drown ground bees if you fill their holes? Absolutely.
If you have a hose and point it directly into one of their nests through an entrance, you may quickly fill it up and drown them.
To avoid getting in close contact with the bees and thus getting stung, you may prefer doing it from afar. Using sprinklers or long hoses works well for this.
#3. Install a Bug Zapper
An insect zapper works as well for bees as it does for mosquitoes and flies. They’re hugely practical and require little to no effort from your side.
You can install one of these close to their nests, and they’re likely to fall into the trap. Some of these zappers can also be literal traps with glue or sticky materials that catch the bees and don’t let them go.
But if you want to go full violence, there’s nothing like an excellent ol’ zapper to get rid of insects in your garden – including ground bees.
#4. Soda Bottle Trap
Bees are extremely curious and go to far lengths to find food. This also includes going inside used bottles and other containers. Designing a trap with this mind always works.
The soda bottle trap is a simple alternative. You just grab a soda bottle, cut the top portion, and then connect it back into the bottom part. But the spout is now pointing down into the bottle, creating a funnel-like shape.
Pour some juice or fruit residues inside the bottle, and that’s it. Place the bottle close to the ground bees’ nests and let them fall. They will eventually fill up the bottle. Plus, it’s entirely inoffensive – you can release the bees later on if they haven’t died yet.
While bees love fruits and sugary drinks, they hate cinnamon. Spreading some over their nests and directly into their holes will scare them away.
Even just a pinch will be enough to make them flee from the mounts. This doesn’t work right away, though. But you may repeat the spreading over a couple of days to see results.
Spraying vinegar into the nests also works. Vinegar is very acidic to the point that bees hate it. When they smell their nests filled with vinegar, they will likely flee.
You don’t have to spray straight-up vinegar either. Mixing half and half with water should be enough.
Commercial insecticides get the job done because that’s precisely what they’re made for.
Many of these insecticides come in powder versions, so you need to spread them over or around the bee’s nests. But most insecticides are liquid, so you need to spray them directly into the lairs.
Many people abstain from using bleach in any type of garden activity because it is damaging. But that also means it is pretty effective at getting rid of pests or invaders.
So, will bleach kill ground bees? Yes. But we don’t recommend using this unless absolutely necessary (as a last resort after trying everything above).
#9. Hire a Professional
Want to get rid of your bee problem once and for all? Don’t hesitate to call a professional to get the job done for you.
Pest services are often a bit expensive, but they eliminate the threat better than any other alternative. Plus, they typically prevent the bees from returning.
Experts also get rid of the problem right away, so you won’t have to wait days or weeks to see the bees out.
But sure enough, these services tend to be expensive. If you aren’t willing to spend a bit of money, you may not find these services compelling.
How to Prevent Ground Bees in Your Garden?
Don’t want those bees anywhere close to your garden? Then consider these tips:
#1. Spray a Homemade Repellent
If you know ground bees are prevalent in the area or recently got rid of them; you can keep them away with a homemade repellent.
It’s about using a combination of cayenne pepper, peppermint, detergent, cinnamon, all mixed with a bit of water.
Spray this repellent all around the garden and areas where bees could get into. This should prevent them from even getting close.
As a great advantage, this will also keep pests and critters away in some cases. You’re getting twice the benefit without harming your plants (and for cheap).
#2. Get Rid of Thrash
Ground bees are attracted to food residues. When you leave thrash close to the garden or yard, you’re likely to spot bees roaming around.
This includes ground bees, as they like sugary and smelly stuff. Anything that could work as food will probably attract them – and thrash could be that.
Don’t leave any of this in your yard if you don’t want bees roaming around. They may even nest if you leave thrash for too long.
#3. Bring Natural Predators
Many animals could help you eliminate those ground bees from your garden. Just be careful, as most of these animals may eventually become the pests themselves (like wasps).
#4. Plant Aromatic Herbs
Bees aren’t fans of many aromatic herbs, they’re surprisingly affected by the fragrance, so they will likely stay away.
If you plant these in your yard, you may enjoy excellent results keeping bees away, both ground bees and honeybees.
What are these plants, then? Here’s a list to consider:
By simply planting many of these around the yard, you’ll be preventing 99% of all bees from getting close. Plus, you’ll have both a more beautiful and helpful garden overall.
Maintain a Lush Grass
We mentioned how ground bees like dead patches of grass and empty spaces to make their burrows. If you keep the yard thoroughly covered with grass and other vegetation – they will have no chance.
While it is not a perfect solution as they may still get into the ground, it keeps most ground bees from even trying, as they’ll find no space to get in.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Are ground bees pollinators?
Yes. These bees are even better pollinators than their hive cousins. You may notice more species and lusher vegetation in places where these bees abound. In fact, they may even be considered ESSENTIAL in some areas, so killing them may be more of a nuisance than the danger they offer.
Q2. Are ground bees aggressive?
No. These bees are even less aggressive than honeybees. And without comparing them to their aggressive cousins’ hornets or wasps, ground bees are among the most docile insects out there.
You may notice that male ground bees (the smallest ones) tend to patrol around their nests. This may seem like aggressive behavior, but it’s not. As long as the bees aren’t disturbed directly, you may never even notice them.
Having said that, they may get aggressive if provoked. You better stay away from them and don’t
Q3. Can ground bees sting?
Yes. But in contrast with other bees, only females have stingers. The small male bees may seem aggressive but won’t cause any physical trouble. They may still chase people as an act of intimidation but without stinging.
Q4. Are ground bees dangerous?
If a ground bee stings you, you may get an allergic reaction. This may include rashes and inflammation in the stung area. But most of the time, the sting develops into a bit of temporary pain and some itchiness.
Still, some people are allergic to the sting and could get seriously inflamed to the point of being life-threatening. It is essential to call 9-1-1 or emergency health care in those cases.
Don’t let those bees keep you or your family away from the garden. Use our above guide on how to get rid of ground bees and say goodbye forever.
Just remember, you can also leave them alone if they’re causing no trouble. These bees are excellent pollinators and are typically inoffensive.
Either way, we hope you learned a thing or two about them. Now it’s your time to act – what are you going to do?