It is hard to associate bees with friendless, if anything they are often synonymous with aggression. But that is the general assumption because most people are only familiar with honey bees. They would not be at fault to think that the same aggression that honey bees show would also apply to ground bees. After all it is better to be safe than sorry.
That said, the modus operandi of ground bees is far different than that of the honey bees. In fact the only thing they may have in common is that they look almost similar to the European honey bee. When your eye catches a ground bee in flight or on a flower sucking on nectar, you would figure it’s just another honey bee.
Are ground bees common?
Ground bees are very common. The overall number of species of bees in North America alone is approximately 4000 species. Of these, the ground bee takes the lion’s share by accounting for a whooping 70%.
The ground bees are most active during spring. Spring is beautiful but most people could do without the wasps and the yellow jackets that come with it.
Ground bees do not live in hives but instead build burrows on the ground. The females which are solitary prefer to dig their individual nest separate but close to other members of the colony. Their soil of choice for nesting is one that is poor, dry, loose and open such as soil with a high sand content. The females raise their eggs individually. Their nests can be easily mistaken for ant hills but upon closer inspection it becomes apparent that they are conical in shape and above ground. These small mounds will disappear when spring passes and water passes through them.
The ground bee males do not have a stinger and are totally incapable of causing you any harm. Their demeanor might seem aggressive as they hover around the nesting area looking for females to mate with but they are virtually harmless. The females are docile and although they do have a sting, they are not aggressive and will only sting if handled.
So the next time you see conical shaped nests on your backyard and bees hovering around, you will know that you have some friendlies and there is no need to get alarmed. They are extremely beneficial in aerating the soil as well as pollinating plants and shrubs such as apple trees, cherries and blue berries.
Do ground beef make honey?
Ground bees do not make honey as they do not live in hives. Honey bees on the other hand are social, they live in a hive and produce honey in addition to sharing resources such as their queen. Honey bees raise their young in a hive communally.
With that in mind, it becomes clear why honey bees are aggressive stingers and have the need to protect their shared resource. Ground bees are starkly different from the honey bee as they have no resources to protect.
Pesticides are not necessary to chase away ground bees. Since they do not like wet soil, wetting the soil with some water will encourage them to go nest elsewhere.