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Ground Bees

Classification: Insect
Size: Can vary; Small sweat bees up to large bumble bees.
Color: Typically a combination of yellow, red-orange, and black.
Distinguishing features: Can vary; bigger bumble bees have a furry, caterpillar texture while smaller sweat bees can appear more like flies – small and darker.
Diet: Primarily the nectar of sweet, fruiting, or flowering plants.
Hazard to humans: Ground bees are less aggressive than honey bees or wasps but they will sting if threatened. Stings are painful and can be much more hazardous to those who are allergic.
Interesting fact: Ground bees do not colonize permanently, like honey bees. Instead, they mate and isolate.

The “Ground Bee” is Not a Species of Bee

The term “ground bees” can be used to describe any bee (or wasp) that burrows beneath the soil and makes a nest underground. Commonly, ground bees are wasps, bumble bees, miner bees, or sweat bees. However, any bee, except the honey bee, that can make an underground home would be considered a “ground bee.” Underground nests usually appear as a 2-inch pile of loose soil and a pencil-sized hole above the ground, but the floor plan is far more complex below the surface.

In reality, the ground bee compound is comprised of tunnels and pathways, each filled with an individual egg preparing itself to hatch. The queen will stay in the nest, constructing this labyrinth of burrows. Ground bee males usually fertilize eggs and leave the nest. In general, ground bees do not live and function in colonies the way honey bees do.

Digger Bees

Most people would be surprised to know their yards are full of ground bees and their nests. Though these bees are usually far more docile than honey bees, with less of a territorial nature, they will sting if threatened. Because of this, and especially for individuals who may be allergic, removal of these nests may be warranted. There are many suggested home remedies for the removal of ground bee nests, such as chemical sprays. However, these types of DIY remedies can be hazardous to pets and humans. Instead of resorting to handling nests and pests yourself, it is recommended to trust a professional.

Sweet Attractions

Though ground bees are fundamentally quite different from honey bees – more docile, less industrious, and antisocial by comparison – there are notable similarities. One of the primary similarities between most ground bee species and honey bees is the attraction to sweet smells.

The sweet smell of your perfume, hair product, or beverage may be what attracts these ground bees up from their nests, under the pretense that there are flowers around. Of course, garden atmospheres are more inviting to ground bee emergence. In any case, ground bees do pollinate the area much like honey bees do, but without the production of honey. You may enjoy the benefits of pollinated flowers and seeded grass through birds and other animals that stay out of the way, as these ground bees may be more detrimental to your atmosphere.

If bees are a problem for you, either because of allergy, fear of stinging, or the need to protect small children, it is imperative that the underground nests be thoroughly, safely removed by a professional pest control specialist.

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“I have been with Brody Brothers for 5.5 years. Ari has been coming to my home for all this time. He does a great job. I hardly ever have an issue. He keeps us pest free which isn't easy living in the woods.”

Jessica Lubek
Owings Mills, MD

“Over 10 year. Service is always top notch. They are always on time and take care of any problems.”

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Reisterstown, MD

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Pikesville, MD