Mosquitoes flying around

Exploring Ground Bees And Their Unique Behaviors

March 11, 2024

By Rachel Maldonado

Exploring Ground Bees And Their Unique Behaviors

Do you hear that buzzing? While most of us are already familiar with the role that honeybees and bumblebees play in the environment, there’s one group of vital insects that operates a bit more surreptitiously.

Ground bees, or burrowing bees, aren’t just one type of bee but instead a general term for multiple types of bees that live underground. 

Though they aren’t as widely recognized as their cousins that prefer to hang out above the ground, their contributions to the natural world are just as profound.

What Are Ground Bees?

Ground bees are any type of wild bees that build their nests in the ground. Perhaps best known for their solitary nature, each female ground bee is capable of reproduction. 

So what type of bees live in the ground?

There are several types of ground bees, but they are often grouped into two large categories; bees (Andrena) and digger bees (Anthophorini).

Mining Bees

Mining bees are widespread, with over 1,400 species across the globe. They forage on a variety of plants.

Miner bees are often solitary, though some will nest in smaller groups. These bees are famous for their ability to help with soil aeration and pollination. They seldom sting and provide valuable environmental services. 

With their long tongues, they pollinate plants that other insects don’t often visit.

Digger Bees

These bees are quite industrious, hence their name. They spend their days digging tunnels and caring for their offspring. 

Digger bees are often recognized for their distinctive behavior of collecting pollen on their hind legs. They tend to be about ½” long and usually are dark or a shiny metallic in color (though some have white, yellow, or brown markings as well).

Why Do Ground Bees Live in the Ground?

Ground-dwelling behavior is an evolutionary strategy that offers several key benefits to us as humans.

First, their nests are easier to establish without having to compete with other bees for aerial space. The ground also offers a stable temperature and ample protection from most predators – something that’s crucial for the critical early stages of the young’s development.

Once a suitable nesting site is found, ground bees create meticulous tunnels in the earth, attaching a series of small cells to the tunnel walls. Each cell is provisioned with a ball of pollen and nectar upon which the female lays her eggs. 

While most ground bees have this in common, the methods for nesting can be drastically different. Some bees tunnel directly into the ground, while others prefer sandy soils or loess. 

Identifying Ground Bees

Understanding and identifying ground bees is as much of an auditory experience as it is a visual one! These bees often have a distinctive appearance. Depending on the species, they can be covered in black, brown, or gray hairs, sometimes with white or pale brown markings.

They generally have a more compact size and ground-based flight pattern compared to larger, more airborne varieties. 

Ground bees are typically not much larger than a honeybee, though there are some exceptions. The bodies tend to be segmented and hairy. They’re uniquely adapted for carrying pollen and facilitating the nesting process. Their colors often help them blend into the environment, making them harder to spot.

The flight pattern of ground bees tends to be what really distinguishes them. They generally fly low to the ground with a quick buzz. They’re known to be docile and aren’t likely to sting unless seriously provoked. They’re relatively harmless visitors to your garden, typically emerging int he spring

The Role Ground Bees Play in the Environment

Ground bees are some of the planet’s most effective pollinators because of the brush of hairs on their bodies. They pollinate the flowers near their nests, helping to facilitate healthy plant growth. 

Unfortunately, human activities – such as intensive agriculture and urbanization  – threaten these important insects. If we want to maintain populations of ground bees in the future, we need to take steps to protect them today. The good news is that mowing over ground bee nests doesn’t generally harm them. There are some pesticides and herbicides that can harm ground bees, which is why it’s smart to work with a professional pest control company that has the skills and know-how for safe application. 

Incorporating landscaping that includes a diversity of native flowers and plants is one great way to attract ground bees – this provides them with a rich source of nectar and pollen. You can also put out shallow pools of water for them, too. 

If you happen to find a ground bee nest, leave it alone. During the active seasons, ground bee nests are only temporary, and the bees will move once their life cycle is complete. If you absolutely must move a nest, don’t attempt to do this yourself. Instead, call a professional pest control company ASAP.

The Takeaway

Now that you know what all the buzz is about when it comes to ground bees, you can move forward with appreciating and protecting these important creatures. 

If you’re concerned about ground bees on your property – or any other type of insect – be sure to give Hawx Pest Control a call. 

Join our satisfied family of customers today!

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