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Let mining bees be

Right now, everyone wants to kill mining bees. Well, they don’t say “kill,” they say “get rid of.” It’s all the same.

So, what is a mining bee? Basically, it’s a type of bee that builds nests in underground tunnels. Each tunnel is usually separate from other tunnels, although they may live in large communities with hundreds, or even thousands, of tunnels. Similar to a housing development, each home is unique to the owner even though, from the outside, they all look the same.

More than that is hard to say. Of the 20,000 species of bee in the world, fully 70% live underground, and the large majority of those are small and solitary. These tunneling insects are known by various names, including digger bees, ground bees, dirt bees, mud bees, and of course mining bees.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that all bees are in serious trouble, and when bees are in trouble, we are in trouble. The pollination that bees do assures us of food crops, industrial crops, flowers, recreation areas, and some types of wood, fiber, spice, fragrance, animal feed, and so on.

Killing a bee is not in your own self-interest, nor is it in the interest of your children or your planet. In fact, it is stupid. Rather than exterminating those that provide food, clothing, and shelter, you should worship the ground they dig in.

Since there are so many species of mining bee, it is impossible to characterize them in a few words. But here are some facts that apply to most:

    • Most are harmless to humans. Nearly all the females have stingers, but the stingers are often too small to penetrate human skin. Yes, some do sting, but the stings, especially in lawn-dwelling species, are light—nothing like a wasp or honey bee.
    • They are non-aggressive. The head of each household has to do everything herself: build a home, lay eggs, collect food for winter, defend her young from other insects, and feed herself. She has little time to get everything done, and virtually no time to mess with you.
    • Most are active a very short time. After about four-to-six weeks of furious activity, they disappear for another year.
    • Like most native bees, they do not produce honey and so do not attract bears, raccoons, opossums, skunks, or teenagers.
    • Those holes in your lawn are not hurting your turf. In fact, some people kill mining bees and then go buy shoes with pegs on the bottom and stomp around the yard making aeration holes. Go figure.
    • Chances are good that you will not get stung even if you walk barefoot across the nesting area. However, if you would rather not try it, just avoid that spot for a few weeks.
    • While mining bees are pretty much harmless, any pesticide you lay over them is not. We are oddly complacent about things we can’t see, but pesticides are poisons and poisons are designed to kill living things. Many modern pesticides do not need to be consumed or inhaled to be toxic, instead they can be absorbed through the skin. To paraphrase Nancy of Shady Grove Farm (commenting on herbicides): “Would you rather have your kids running barefoot on bees or barefoot on Agent Orange?” The choice is yours.

If you are still unsure about these gentle creatures, here are some comments from readers:

    • From Dave: “We’ve had mining bees for years. They aerate the soil and do their pollinating. We’ve walked on them, run lawn mowers over them, and never have been stung. I still feel guilty about my first silly and futile attempts to eradicate them.”
    • From Stacy: “My mining bees appear for about ten days in the spring, and then they’re gone. They do no harm and they’re a lovely harbinger of spring. My son and the neighbor boys have played around them every year—and no one has ever been stung or harmed in any way.”
    • From Suzann: “We have THOUSANDS of mining bees . . . but what an experience! In the weeks they are active it sometimes looks like our lawn is moving because so many of them are hovering. My children have learned to accept them, and explain them to their friends. The bees will hover on their hands, my children run the yard with flip flops on, no one has ever been stung.”

So let your mining bees alone. Who else does so much while asking for so little? Certainly not us.

Rusty
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Andrena-transnigra
Andrena transnigra, the black-banded Andrena, is a mining bee easily recognized by the black band across its thorax. © Rusty Burlew.

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Comments

Anna
Reply

On the same note, I repeatedly inform my neighbors and people in general that cicada-killer wasps are NOT hornets out to get you, they’re out to get cicadas. Completely benign and not interested in YOU despite how large and scary they are.

Regarding a previous post about plants and how people perceive trees as messy: I ordered 2 free trees from my energy company that was sponsoring energy-saving plantings with the National Arbor Foundation. One is a sourwood and I heard that another person ripped their tree out because it made a mess. I can’t find anything about sourwood being a “messy” tree and the woman insisted it was an awful tree. I bet she thinks it’s especially messy because it attracts bees.

I plan to add a linden tree and a bee bee tree.

Rusty
Reply

Anna,

It’s odd that some folks think they are superior to nature rather than a part of it. No doubt, she’s a control freak.

BTW, sourwood honey is great. I’d say it’s a perfect choice.

Glen Buschmann
Reply

Here is something we just posted about some mining bees in Olympia. I assume it is Andrenidae rather than Colletidae, but have not examined it under a scope and remain unsure of its i.d. We’ve some decent photos but i.d. is not easy especially since I hate to capture and kill at height of breeding — which of course is the only time they can be found. I’ll make one more visit this next week, look for bodies. Glen
http://olypollinators.blogspot.com/2014/05/life-underfoot-or-pyramids-of-beeza.html

Rusty
Reply

Hi Glen,

A great bee! Wish I could have seen them. With those hairy facial foveae it has to be an Andrena of some sort. I look forward to seeing more photos.

Hannah
Reply

Hello,
I have a few cacti in plant pots and this morning i noticed that the gravel around them had been disturbed but thought nothing of it as I have pets which like to dig soil.
I watered the cacti with plant food and re-arranged the gravel covering the hole.
However, I returned this afternoon and saw a bee burrowing into the roots of the cacti. Could I have harmed the bee with the plant food? and is the bee harming the plant?
thanks

Rusty
Reply

Hi Hannah,

The bee is not harming the plant; it is most likely digging a tunnel in which to lay a few eggs. Whether the plant food will hurt the bee, I don’t know. There are many different types of plant food which contain many substances. Some bees line their tunnels with waterproof secretions, so it is possible the bee might live on unscathed.

Cathy
Reply

I have a quick question. I have ground bees in a 12′ X 12′ area behind my garage. the soil is loose without much grass coverage. The bees are very active right now, so I’m not planning on doing anything to disturb then, but I want to level out the area (it is sloped, but I wanted to add dirt to make more of a slope to my back garage for lawn mower storage, etc) and plant some bushes, wildflowers, etc.. If I add dirt over their nest and plant things, will this disturb or hurt them? Also, when would be the best time to make changes like this? Thanks!

Rusty
Reply

Cathy,

You are right to wait until they cease being active. Then, if you limit the areas where you go deep, you should be able to do your work without damaging too many of the hibernating bees. I can’t tell you how deep the nests are because it differs by species. Some go very deep, some not so much. As far as adding soil, I think most will be able to get out in the spring, as long as the top layer is not excessively deep or rocky.

Heide Signes
Reply

Mining bees (I believe this is what they are) just appeared in our lawn. I would tend to do nothing about them. I just have one question. My daughter is extremely allergic to bee venom. Do these bees pose a threat to her? Thank you very much.
Heide

Rusty
Reply

Heide,

I’ve never heard of mining bees stinging anyone, but I wouldn’t let your daughter walk barefoot over them or be careless. You should watch the video of the tickle bees of Sabin Elementary School. If you look closely, you can see thousands of them hovering over the grass. The have never stung the students.

If this link doesn’t work just Google “tickle bees video.” I’m having trouble with the link.

padugan
Reply

i have 3/4 of an acre yard and the entire yard is covered in mining bees. hundreds if not thousands of holes. the yard looks like it’s moving there are so many. and no they don’t last 10 days. more like 2 months. different parts of the yard have them at alternating times. so the front for example may start up first and be very bad for about two weeks, then activity in that spot dies down, not gone, just better. then the side yard will start up , then back south side, back north side etc.

my 4 year old has been been stung several times. they are not aggressive, but in mass quantities they can and do get trapped in clothing and that is when you get stung. Also, they’ve flown into the house and nested in the plants in the house.

pest control has come several times and only gets what’s flying around so the next day, it’s just as bad. I’m sure there is a natural organic way to truly get rid of them, but those that know aren’t saying and sites like this site say leave them alone. not going to happen, I will spray my yard with Kerosene if i have too and kill everything.

Rusty
Reply

Padugan,

Good plan. It is far better to raise your children on a carcinogenic toxic waste dump than expose them to a bee.

james
Reply

I have some sort of mining bees show up almost every summer..when they don’t show up I miss them..they are always busy and not aggressive but I give them plenty of space so we have a nice co-existence..I was sitting on my porch one very hot dry day and thought if I’m thirsty the bees might be too..so I placed my garden hose on the sidewalk and let it trickle water over the concrete..before I knew it I had a traffic jam of all kinds of bees and even the neighborhood cats and squirrels got in on the act..Life is good when it’s kept simple

Rusty
Reply

James,

I love this story and I agree about the simple things.

katie
Reply

Hello, we too have mining bees in our yard. My niece (nine) was playing outside and got stung today. The sting was not as bad as a regular bee or wasp but it did swell up and she was crying. We have had no problems up until today. I thought I had read somewhere that they don’t sting, so I wanted to caution people to be careful because the certainly do!!

Rusty
Reply

Katie,

All female bees can sting, except for stingless bees, and they bite. Whether they can penetrate human skin varies with the size of the bee. Most very small ones cannot, but some mining bees are quite large. Then too, children’s skin is more delicate than adult skin.

Kirstie
Reply

Hi, I’ve been digging out a raised bed in my garden with the intention of lining it with plastic to a) suppress the weeds in order that I can grow vegetables and b) stop the wood supports from rotting, which they have started to do. The depth of the bed is around 4 feet, and I reached ground level only to find a number of miner bees lying peacefully in their little divots in the soil. What can I do about my plans to lay the plastic? Naturally I don’t want to kill the bees. Will they find their way out from under the plastic to the side of the raised bed and out?
Thank you

Rusty
Reply

Kirstie,

The bees will not make it out from under the plastic. I think you should try to move the ones you find to another location. Just carefully bury them in a similar type of soil. All won’t make it, I suspect, but maybe some will.

Kirstie
Reply

Thanks for your reply Rusty, I’ll certainly do my best to save them. They do seem rather sweet, at least while they’re all snoozing!

Steve
Reply

Hi Rusty,

We have had a large leaf Philodendron for 25 years in a large (18″ high) pot that we bring in to the (heated) garage for the winter. It sorta withers with benign neglect but comes back beautifully outside every year. The pot has a 1X3″ drainage hole about 6 inches up from the ground. And that’s where the bees have entered and made their home this summer. They are extremely active every time I look at the hole – constantly coming and going. We bring in the pot before the first sub 40 temperature in October which doesn’t give us a whole bunch of time. I DO NOT want to kill the bees (we put up with getting eaten by mosquitoes every year because I refuse to spray), but they can’t stay where they are and we are unwilling to leave the plant out to die. A solution would be most welcome. Help ?????

Rusty
Reply

Steve,

Why can’t they stay where they are? Most bees (except honey bees) hibernate in the soil for about 9 to 10 months of the year. If the bees are still active, they won’t be for long. The heated garage won’t make them emerge once they’ve gone into hibernation. Then in the spring, sometime after the plant returns to it’s outside place, the bees will emerge for their short adult life.

Steve
Reply

If they are gonna sleep thru til May, I’m more than happy to just leave them be(e). I was unaware that they would become inactive, due both to my lack of knowledge of bees and the fact that at the moment they are hyperactive. I will anticipate their getting sleepy before I have to move the plant in. Thank you for your time and expertise – I feel better 🙂

PS: I haven’t managed to get close enough to take a good picture for ID purposes, so I have no idea what kind of bees they are except relatively small and fast. Would honey bees be likely to pick the bottom of a potted plant to set up shop ?? Because of the heavily exposed root system at the top of this plant I would not be able to find burrows or holes but all of my observations thus far have them going in and out that one drainage hole.

Rusty
Reply

Steve,

I’m so glad these bees ended up with you!

No, honey bees nearly always live above ground in colonies that range from about 20,000 to 70,OOO members. You most likely have some type of solitary ground bee that lives in small borrows. Most of these bees are pretty gentle, so if you manage to get a photo, let me try to i.d. it for you.

Pam
Reply

We have had mining bees visit every August for a few weeks. There appears to be different types in the nest. The larger bumble type with pollen sacs on the legs flies into the area it appears that it is being attacked by a group of the smaller lighter coloured bees that are constantly hovering over the nesting area. The larger bee then enters her hole while the smaller ones hover over the area. The first year the nesting area was small but it seems to be getting larger each year. They are non aggressive and we enjoy watching them.

Rusty
Reply

Pam,

The smaller ones could possibly be males waiting at the nest entrances for females. Females carry pollen, males don’t, and the males are often smaller than the females.

Pam
Reply

It appears that most of the bees have left but I did see a few of the larger ones and about a half a dozen of the smaller. Do they move off and return next year, or is it offspring from eggs in the ground that we will see next August? The latter seems less likely as they would be growing for a year underground.

Rusty
Reply

Pam,

It is the offspring of these bees that you will see next year. For most ground-dwelling native bees, the adults are only active about two months of the year. They spend the other 10 months of the year underground, first as an egg, then a larva, and then a pupa. It seems unlikely but it’s true.

Steve
Reply

Hi again Rusty,

I now have a couple of pics of the critters inhabiting my large pot – how do I get them to you? The only email I have is the donotreply one. Just for grins, I took a couple of shots of very different bees which are feasting on my sedum plants in the back yard in large numbers and with great gusto – I’d like to know what they are as well. We are plant lovers and have always had a variety of bees in our yard (including BIG fascinating bumble bees) but never developed any curiosity until the unidentified miners invaded the Philodendron pot. Thanks again for your help.

Rusty
Reply

Steve,

Look for an e-mail.

Dante
Reply

We’ve got hundreds of mining bees on the lawns right now – mid September (2015). I’m glad to share my space with them and tell passers-by about them. I read that they are usually about in May, so I wonder what they are doing now – trying for a second brood?

Rusty
Reply

Dante,

The answer depends on the species. Although most species are active early in the spring and summer, a few species are active later and take advantage of the fall-blooming plants. And you are right, there are a number of species that raise a second round of brood late in the season. You would need a species identification, to know exactly what you have. I’m so happy to hear that you can co-exist happily!

Pauline
Reply

Hi there
We have miner bees in our school garden (it’s just being set up). We have already disturbed the bees quite a bit and we’re trying not to be too disruptive going forward. They have been busy since March and are still active now.

The soil is very dusty and we’d like to spread a thin layer of mulch to stop all the dust rising as the kids are starting to spend time in the garden for lessons. Is this likely to harm the bees/nests? Everything we’ve done thus far doesn’t seem to have fazed them too much… they’ve moved around us/we’ve moved around them.

We’d like to leave them do their own thing and are happy to co-habit… just not sure what the mulch will do to them… thanks in advance.

Rusty
Reply

Pauline,

If the layer of mulch is thin it will most likely be fine. A thick layer though is harmful. A think layer can prevent them from digging new holes because they have trouble moving the mulch pieces.

jason
Reply

I have mining bees in my front yard hundreds of them every year. I was wondering if when I cut my grass (riding mower) 1. Does it hurt them? 2. The holes that get covered can they re-open them? Thanks in advance

Rusty
Reply

Jason,

They can re-open the holes. The only bees that get hurt would be the ones you macerated with the lawn mower.

Siobhan
Reply

I have just disturbed a nest I. I’m sitting in the living room as I’m scared to go out. I noticed the bee going underground and never thought much about it, saw it about 7 times. This morning I went out to plant some plants and while out there the bee returned. It seemed frantic and I realised I’ve moved soil along. I immediately tried to push the soil back I just felt terrible it was flying around me and I had to keep running back inside in case I get stung. But I’ve come inside now as there are 3 outside and I think I’ve disturbed a hive. I don’t know what to do now!! And I feel awful! my neighbors probably think I’m mentally ill as I was trying to stay calm and talking to it saying I’m trying to help u calm down!! ??

Rusty
Reply

Siobhan,

Ground-nesting solitary bees are common this year. They often nest near each other, so you may see several at a time. If you leave the soil alone, most likely they will find and open the nest again, or they will start a new one. These bees hardly ever sting, so I wouldn’t be afraid of them. They are concentrating on what they are doing and not at all interested in you.

mudflat
Reply

Actually I was stung twice by miner bees recently when I dug up their nest accidentally. Their sing is quite painful sort of like a little bubble bee. Still we made peace I work around them and they don’t bother me but like anything else of earth they will defend their nest. Luckily they tend to be a solitary bee or live in small colonies like the ones in my yard.

Derrick
Reply

I have what appear to be miner bees in my excavator. Between the tracks on both sides is a long hollow steal channel that has dirt that has been worked in there. I moved the excavator the other day and I had large bees acting aggressive and diving at me in the cab. I got out and could see dozens of these bees coming out of the opening on both sides of the excavator. I usually see these bees more individually and not in a swarm. Don’t really want to kill them but they are too distracting to leave there. Not in a spot to get to relocate. I can make sure I clean that channel out in the future. Any tips or ideas here? Thanks

Rusty
Reply

Derrick,

That is fascinating. They sound more like cavity dwellers than mining bees. What many of these bees like is a long narrow tube like you describe. They lay their eggs in there and cover them with mud, so even if you cleaned out the channel, they will bring their own mud. I have a long narrow slit in my patio door frame, just on the outside, that has been completely filled in with mud. I don’t know that there is much you can do other than turn your excavator into a bee condo. If you are into bees, you can put up one of those nesting tubes and hope they use that instead.

Katie
Reply

Hi Rusty,

I believe I have these mining bees in a pot on our deck. We hadn’t planted anything in them all summer which is why the bees were attracted to them. I wanted to plant some mums in them now. Is this still possible? Or would I be digging up their nests in the process?

Katie

Rusty
Reply

Katie,

The bees lay their eggs underground and then the eggs hatch into larvae or pupae. They hibernate like that for about 10 months before they re-emerge. So yes, you would be digging up their nests.

snaildarter
Reply

I replaced the twenty steps that go down a step bank to the street in front of my house. I accidentally dug into a miner bee nest at step 7 and actually got stung twice. The stings where quite painful lot of like a little bumble bees, but I was determined not to harm them. So I abandoned that step and went to the street and started working my way up. A couple weeks later I was back at the miner bees. They seemed to knock off about 3 pm so I’d work until dark very carefully, I finally got around them and we achieved détente. My neighbors think I’m crazy but I’m proud of the outcome.

Rusty
Reply

Snaildarter,

I’m proud of you too. Well done!

Cynthia
Reply

I noticed bees going in and out of a planter last year. The planter is built around a post of our deck and we are replacing the deck and this morning I was taking the soil out and after I got down about 4 inches the soil was like rock. I managed to chip a chunk off and the soil has crystals in it. This has to be removed but I am afraid there are bees in there that will cause problems for the contractor. Any ideas what we can do?

Rusty
Reply

Cynthia,

I’m not sure what you mean by crystals, but in any case, mining bees rarely sting. I wouldn’t worry about them. You can learn a lot from these elementary school kids who call them “tickle bees.”

snaildarter
Reply

Mining bees are few in number and not suicidal like other bees, but they will sting if you get into their nest. If you are worried about removing the planter, do it before they become active in the warm weather and keep as much as you can intact somewhere out of harm’s way. Maybe they will relocate.

Rusty
Reply

Snaildarter,

Not sure what you mean by “not suicidal like other bees.”

WildGardener
Reply

I’ve never really been into gardening, but 2 years ago decided to try and make the garden nice. I made a LOT of rookie mistakes the first year – planting all annuals (resulting in empty beds the next year lol) and killing many things so I decided to start again last year, focusing on wildlife. All plants in my garden come with the RHS perfect for pollinators and it’s really taking shape. This year I have an unbelievable amount of wildlife – birds, butterflies and BEES!! Yesterday whilst out in the garden I saw 2 miner bees building a nest on my lawn. I’m so happy my work has paid off and hope they are there for many years to come.

Rusty
Reply

WildGardener,

That is great news. The wildlife returns quickly once you give it what it needs.

Carroll
Reply

Hello,
I have had mining bees for about 7 years, in the flower beds along the boundaries of my home. I know they are only active and flying about for 5 or 6 weeks, as I have recorded the earliest and the latest sightings for each year for the past 3. I have literally 100s of bees flying about at the same time in a tight area next to my driveway, and they really freak out my friends. I’ve never been stung and don’t expect to be, but the sheer number of bees is intimidating. Is there a natural way to discourage their nesting where they do? It’s not that I don’t appreciate what they do, but their location is not ideal. Just walking on that side of the house is just so intense. I mean, I was a beekeeper at one time, and expected honey bees to be flying in my face while taking their honey, but many people aren’t used to the numbers, and despite telling people about the good they do, does not make it any easier for them.

You would have to see the number of bees to appreciate what I’m talking about. Suggestions? I’ve heard of adding a lot of mulch to the garden discourages their return, as they like dry dirt. I’ve also read that they don’t like a lot of water/moisture.

Rusty
Reply

Carroll,

I have visited managed alkali bee beds and I know what you are talking about. To me, it almost looks like the ground is moving like water because the bees get so thick. Most species will never sting, but you already know that.

The best way to reduce their numbers in my opinion is heavy mulch. Now, I don’t think the mulch at will remove every last one, but it could drastically reduce the numbers. What happens is they get discouraged and move to a place where the soil in unobstructed.

If you manage to get a close up photo of one, I’d love to see what species you have.

Kathryn
Reply

Greetings,

I beleive I have digger bees in my flower bed and thin spots on the lawn. It is disconcerting to have a large number active in the small flower bed area near my front door. I ran the sprinkler for several days to discourage them (when I thought they were wasps). Now, after a few weeks their activity has diminished.

My question is about weeding in the area. When is it safe to weed? There is invasive zoysia grass that I need to remove from the beds, and I don’t want to get stung.

If I heavily mulch over winter will hibernating bees get out? Or should I wait till next year cycle and heavily mulch when bees are active to discourage them from this particular area near the front door?

THANKS.

Rusty
Reply

Kathryn,

Most solitary ground-dwelling bees don’t sting at all, or rarely. I would feel completely comfortable weeding at any time. In fact it’s fun to be in the midst of them while they are coming and going, minding their own business. It’s a zen-like experience. In short, I would say it’s always safe.

If you really want them to leave, heavily mulch the area. If you mulch it now, many will not be able to get out in spring. If you mulch while they are emerging, they won’t be able to nest as easily. Neither time is ideal because as soon as they emerge they start to build new nests. There isn’t really a time when you won’t be affecting the population.

snaildarter
Reply

I have built my landscaping around the bees. They are welcome to their piece of my yard.

Kathryn
Reply

I just want to thank Rusty and Snaliarter for their helpful replies. The bees activity is over for the season & while weeding they did not bother me. Though I did wait til most of their activity subsided, due to my own concern.

I’d love to hear more from Snaildarter about how you built your landscaping around the bees.

THANKS.

snaildarter
Reply

First a word of caution, miner bees are very docile but if you dig up their nest they will sting you. So if have a patch of miner bee nest (not sure about your climate) but here in Georgia I planted azaleas around their nesting area and I mulched around the azaleas. Leaving their area open but obscured visually by my landscaping. They are prized pollinators because the seem to survive when honey bees are killed off by Mr. Mosquito. Probably because they don’t forge over such a wide area with many individuals to bring home hive killing toxins like poor honey bees.

Rusty

Snaildarter,

I have to disagree with your statement. Because the world contains about 20,000 species of bees, and because a full 70% of those species live underground (14,000 species) and because any bee that lives underground is sometimes called a miner, I don’t know which species you are referring to.

Furthermore, the species you have is probably different than the one she has. So which of the 14,000 do you have? They are all different, some sting and some don’t, some can be a bit aggressive but most are not. You can’t make the assumption that she has the same bees as you have.

Not all insects are grasshoppers. Not all fish are tuna. Not all birds are sparrows. And not all bees that live underground sting.

Kathryn

Thanks again to you both! This is a great learning forum for me. I am paying more notice to the many bees pollinating in my vegetable & flower garden.

Regarding weeding — I have to dig out zoysia grass that has spread to a bed with lavender, roses, etc. where I noticed LOTS of bee activity earlier in the season. Sometimes the zoysia roots are fairly deep (3-4in.). Will digging to get these roots out disturb nesting “digger” bees to the extent that they will become aggressive? I live on eastern Long Island, NY.

Thanks!
~ Kathryn

Rusty

Kathryn,

This is another “it depends” question. Some species nest three or four inches underground, while others nest three feet deep or more. Sometimes the nests are single tunnels, sometimes they have many branches or “rooms.” Then too, some ground nesters are large, like honey bees or carpenter bees, and some are so small you can barely seem them, smaller than tiny black ants.

But here’s another issue. Nearly all bees have an active adult life stage that lasts somewhere between four and six weeks. If any bees are aggressive, they are the adult ones. If you wait until the adults are gone (in most species not more than 2 months total) the only bees in the ground will be in the overwintering stages. That is, they will be eggs, larvae, or pupae—none of which can fly or sting.

So by just waiting until the adults die off (you can tell because they’re gone) you won’t get stung by digging in the soil. Nearly all of the ground nesters spend 10 months in hibernation, during which time they are completely harmless. The adults do not live in the soil. Once their eggs are laid for the season, they simply die.

Kathryn

Again, Rusty, thank YOU!
Your reply is really thorough and most helpful. Really appreciate your expertise and cheerful help!

Dawn
Reply

We just purchased our house and the front garden that runs along the front of the house was very over grown and full of carpenter ants/ termites. We treated the perimeter around house as it there was some damage being done. Then we pulled up the garden with the intentions of mulching and replanting some simple shrubs. Now that everything is torn up I can see that there are active miner bees. I am find with them being there but we have to do something with the front of the house. I’d like to put down a weed barrier (newspaper) and mulch, then plant. I’d also like to protect the bees. Is there a way I can accomplish both? assuming that I can, are there shrubs that are ideal for the bees or shrubs I need avoid? Thank you

Rusty
Reply

Dawn,

Almost any shrub is fine, but ground-dwelling bees need bare soil to nest in. Any kind of mulch will likely drive them away.

Dawn
Reply

The problem is that I can not weed as I am very allergic to bee stings and while I can tell they are non-aggressive I can’t risk a bee sting. I also can’t find anyone who is willing to weed with so many bees. I am guessing that there is no ideal situation in which I can protect the bees and the house (bed needs to be clear and covered with cedar mulch which is supposed to be safe and non-bothersome to insects except wood boring pests). We have tried other natural solutions to keep the ants and termites but nothing has worked. Thank you for the feedback.

snaildarter
Reply

If you are creative you can landscape around them but their nesting area must be bare soil. Although some species will tolerate a lose leaf pack if they can get through it easily.

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