If you have a garden or a yard, you may at one point need to rid it of ground bees. You may be forced to get rid of the ground bees because once these little creatures have infested beautiful gardens they can quickly turn it into an eyesore.
In addition, they pose a danger to you and your loved ones because of their painful sting. But the question is how do you get rid of them?
You can either use natural methods or chemical methods to get rid of ground bees. In natural methods, you can wet the soil to make it unconducive for the ground bees or compounds with a smell that the bees hate such as cinnamon or garlic. For chemical methods, you use pesticides toxic to the bees.
First, let us understand a bit more about these little fellas so that we can know the best way to get rid of them.
What Type of Bees Burrow The Ground?
Ground bees are of various categories, depending on their color, how and where they make their habitat among many other factors.
Some of the famous categories of ground bees include: sweat, mining, yellow jackets, mason, alkali, bumblebees, leafcutter bee and many others.
- Sweat Bees
Just as their name suggests, sweat bees are attracted to sweat. They can be quite annoying because they will buzz around you especially when you reek of sweat, and that is the greatest motivation for having to get rid of them from your yard.
The majority of sweat bees are blackish in color while others may be bluish, greenish and purplish. Sweat bees can live together in large communities, individually or in small groups.
What makes them unique from other types of bees is how they transport the pollen they have collected back to their hives. Unlike other bees such as the honey bee that transports pollen on its abdomen, sweat bees transport pollen by carrying it on their hind legs.
It is the female sweat bee’s role to make underground tunnels for laying eggs and storing pollen after mating.
- Mining bees
Also known as digger bees or chimney bees in USA, they love burrowing in soft soil but you can also find them in desert areas.
Much smaller than most of the other bee categories, they are furry with bright stripes on their bodies together with their characteristic velvety pathed face.
To propagate, the female mining bee lays eggs in a cavity loaded with sufficient pollen for developing larva to feed on once it hatches and seals it. The pollen will help it develop into an adult by summer but it remains hidden until springtime.
- Alkali bees
In a way, it is a type of sweat bee. Although they are ground bees, they have a preference for salty soils. In the United States, they are commonly found in the western region.
They are also comparatively smaller than honey bees and have enameled scaled stripes that are yellow in color. Females tend to dig burrows near each other whenever they find good salty soils, sometimes they can exist in their thousands near one another.
If other bees snob certain areas, then chances are alkali bees are the ones in the area because of their love for salty soils. They are useful in the pollination of plants that other bees keep away from such as the pea plant which has its flowers unexposed fully.
Alfalfa plants are pollinated by these bees, and farmers intentionally employ strategies to attract them because of their effectiveness in pollination. Sometimes they can pollinate upwards of 1000 flowers.
It is easy to identify them because of their buzzing, furriness and fat size. They are black and yellow in color.
When bumblebees hive in the ground, they do not excavate the soil, they rather inhabit already existing tunnels. Sometimes they can live in dry lives or insulation or concrete openings.
Fortunately, they are rarely aggressive, unless you try to attack their nests.
Unlike other ground bees, they are social and live in colonies in the ground or in rotting wood. At a time, a colony can have up to 400 bees, the population encompasses a queen, male and female bees.
Bumblebees are capable of making honey, but use pollen to do this.
Leafcutter bees get their name because of their preference for plants such as roses which have thick pithy stems to make a home. If they find rotting wood, they can also hive there. Female leafcutter bees are skilled at cutting pieces of leaves which they use for lining their cells.
Other common plants they prefer include creepers, ash and lilac.
Their color is darker than that of honey bees with light stripes on the abdomen. Farmers cultivate these colonies to encourage pollination on their farms.
Should I Kill Ground Bees?
You should think seriously before taking any drastic action against the ground bees in your yard.
Before you decide to kill them, you should keep in mind the advantages that ground bees add to your yard or farm which is pollination and even aeration. They add value to the ecosystem.
You should also know that it is not necessary to kill ground bees. Unlike honey bees which tend to be quite aggressive, ground bees are mostly docile. Killing them is harming the ecosystem.
You can still get rid of them without necessarily killing them. Keep reading to learn effective methods you can use to get rid of ground bees and not kill them.
Are Ground Nesting Bees Dangerous?
Most people associate bees with stings and tend to imagine every bee is as dangerous as honey bees. It is actually not the case. Not all bees can sting. In fact, not all honey bees can sting, only the females including the queen possess a stinger.
When it comes to ground bees, the level of danger that they pose to humans goes even lower considerably. But this does not mean that they are entirely harmless.
Ground bees are different from social bees and wasps, in that they are peaceful, unlike their aggressive counterparts.
Females do possess stingers but will not sting unless they are under imminent threat. Male bees on the other hand cannot sting but hover around their nests to keep it safe. If they sense danger, the worst they can do is come at you to impose fear in you with their aggression so that you can flee.
Therefore, unless you try to interfere with their nests, most ground bees are pretty harmless and will move away from your yard within no time. Unless they keep returning every season, then and only then would you need to find a way to get rid of them.
How Do You Get Rid Of Bees In The Ground?
You have countless methods at your disposal for getting rid of ground bees. But all vary in their effectiveness, ease of application and complexity.
But mainly, the methods used for getting rid of ground bees are in two main categories; natural and chemical methods.
Scientists have come up with various chemical solutions that have been found to be toxic to ground bees. Chemical methods of getting rid of ground bees include pesticides, sprays, dust, powders and even others are in liquid form.
You can purchase these pesticides from household stores.
But the use of chemical methods is very tricky because of the harm that chemicals pose not only to the bees but also to humans, pets and the environment. If you are to use chemicals to get rid of ground bees, you must be very careful.
First ensure that you wear protective gear such as gloves and goggles in case of an accident. When applying the chemical, do not apply directly to the entry holes to avoid harming the soil and the plants.
But if you can avoid chemical methods and opt for natural methods. They are safer to you and the environment.
It is highly recommended that you opt to use natural methods to get rid of ground bees because they are much safer to you and also to the bees.
The following are some of the options you have, pick the one that is most preferable to you.
- Blocking the entrance to the ground nests
Ground bees’ entrances are usually 1-2 inches thick. If you block this entrance, they will not be able to access their underground nest. The idea is to hinder the bees from going inside to lay eggs. Upon realizing they are locked out of their home, the bees would move away in search of a new place to tunnel.
You can use either brick or any other heavy object to block the entrance or pour soil.
But be careful while doing this. It is best to do it at night when the bees are less active to avoid getting stung by the females.
- Wet the Soil
The best place for ground bees to make their home is in dry soil. If you water your yard, the place becomes inhabitable and they will not continue to hang around for long.
You have to do things continuously over several rounds until they realize there is no hope of making a home there.
Avoid getting near their nest when watering since the action can make them angry and they can sting you. If possible, use a sprinkler and stand at a safe distance off.
When watering the soil, ensure you are dressed in a way that you will be protected from any stings. Wear trousers that are not loose at the edges with a long-sleeved shirt.
- Plant strong scented plants around your yard
Ground bees are repelled by certain kinds of smells. If you plant vegetation with smells that ground bees hate near the ground bees-infested area, they will flee within a short time.
Some of the plants that ground bees hate because of their smell are cucumbers, peppermint, and cinnamon.
You can even sprinkle the cinnamon powder on the holes to deter the ground bees from entering their hives and continuing to live in your yard.
For this to work, you may have to keep at it daily for several days up to a week.
- Create simple DIY Vinegar Spray
Vinegar is also one of the smells that ground bees hate. You can make vinegar sprays by mixing vinegar and water in the same ratios. Place the mixture in a bottle and spray it where the ground bees are.
- Simple Ground Bee Trap
You can make a simple bee trap or purchase one.
The concept is to place a sugary solution in a bottle that makes it impossible for the ground bees to exit from once they fly in. The bees will then drown in the solution and your yard will be safe.
- Limit open ground in your yard
Ground bees enjoy wide-open spaces on the ground for then they can burrow without any problems and also the space enables them to have many near one another.
If you remove the open spaces, you have effectively ruined their chances of establishing a home. Plant thick grasses and plants that make it harder to burrow through.
When You Should Get Rid of Ground Bees
Considering the value ground bees add-in form of pollination and aeration, it would not be right to just fight them for no compelling reasons. Here are good reasons to do it;
- If your children or pets will be spending a lot of time playing around in the yard, then you will need to get rid of the ground bees.
- If you or anyone within your household is allergic to bee stings. Getting rid of the ground bees will avoid an ugly instance where a person that is highly allergic to bee stings is stung by the ground bees hiving in your yard.
- If it is spring time. Ground bees nest when it is spring. Therefore, during that season, you have a good reason for getting rid of them so that the rest of the year your yard will be safe and free from them.
The most important thing to know about getting rid of ground bees is that you should avoid doing it on your own if are highly reactive to bee stings. It is best to engage the services of a professional when in doubt. All the best!