What You Need to Know about Ground Bees

Do you see bees flying near holes and little mounds of soil in your lawn?  Living up to their descriptive name, this time of year ground bees (also known as digger bees) make their nests by digging little holes in the ground and piling up the excavated dirt nearby. 

The good news is that ground bees are generally non-aggressive, solitary insects that aren’t likely to sting people or pets.  Unless you’re allergic, ground bees should not be a big threat to you or your lawn, but it’s important to recognize the difference between ground bees and more aggressive yellow jackets, bumble bees and wasps. 

What you need to know about ground bees:

  • Ground bees are solitary insects, and only one bee lives in each hole
  • Clusters of ground bees’ nests (holes) may be found together
  • Ground bees are generally beneficial to our environment because they are good pollinators and destroy harmful insects
  • Generally, ground bees use their ground nests for 4-6 weeks in Spring, then relocate somewhere else for the rest of the year
  • Ground bees come in slightly different shapes and sizes, and may resemble more harmful insects.  Be careful!  A good rule of thumb is that more than one bee or wasp sharing a nest is a bigger threat, as it indicates a colony with drones that are more likely to sting. 

In most cases – because the ground bees’ nests are only temporary and should not cause long-term damage to your lawn – we generally do not recommend using pesticides.  You should be able to continue enjoying your lawn, just take care to give the bees some space for a few weeks until they vacate.  Ground bees prefer dry soil, so if you’d like to discourage ground bees from making or inhabiting nests, water your lawn with one inch of water per week.  If the nests are located in an area where there is no grass, a fresh application of mulch will discourage the ground bees from settling in that location.