While out running through the neighborhood last week, I noticed a considerable amount of little mounds in the front yards. I thought to myself, as I kept running, that’s a lot of bee or earthworm activity. A few days later I received a picture from a landscape professional that shows a mound of soil with a hole in the middle. From the picture I could make a better diagnosis than I could from just running past the yard. I later returned to the home that I passed and upon inspection saw the exact same mounds that resembled the one in the photo. Well, just last night I found the same type of mounds in my back yard. The ground or digger bees are active in at least three landscapes in my neighborhood.
Female ground bees dig nests in the ground up to six or so inches deep in which to raise young. The bees pile earth around the sides of the hole. These bees can be very active in March and April. The female ground bee stocks the nest with pollen and nectar to feed the young bees. Some solitary wasps stock their nests with insects.
We do not recommend chemical controls for ground bees or wasps. These bees can be beneficial – serving to pollinate plants or destroy harmful insects. They will probably only be around for four to six weeks and then disappear until next year.
If you must control them, use cultural controls.
- Ground bees like dry soils. Water the soil when bees first become active. Apply one inch of water once a week if it does not rain.
- Ground bees nest in dry areas where the grass is thin. Find and correct the problems making the turf thin. This may involve soil sampling, irrigation, soil aeration or other practices.
- Find ways to thicken the turf in these areas to reduce ground bee problems. Know the needs of the turf grass and meet them!
- In areas that will not grow grass, mulch the area.
Information from this post taken form Ground or Digger Bees Attack Landscapes by Willie Chance, former Houston County Extension Agent
Photo credit: Michael Conley