Busy as a Bee!

— Written By and last updated by Tamara Carawan
en Español

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.

English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲

(Taken from this article written by NC State Extension Entomologist Matt Bertone)

ground bee poking its head out of a ground hole

As the warm weather continues to build, insects and other animals are becoming more active. This may include insects like paper wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets that are now becoming active and emerging from their resting sites. However, in this article, lets discuss another close relative you may see in abundance right now: native, solitary, ground-nesting bees!

There are many species of native bees in NC (for more information see this wonderful bee guide, The Bees of North Carolina Identification Guide). Ground-nesting bees can be found throughout the state and are active during warm parts of the year; however, the most conspicuous activity typically happens in March when dozens to hundreds of bees emerge from the ground after developing as larvae the year before. Small mounds of loose soil pop up, especially in bare patches of ground where the vegetation is not very dense.

holes in the turf (damage)from ground nesting bees

When really active, numerous bees fly around the area like a giant bee metropolis. The bees’ mate, and the industrious females collect pollen to provision cells in the ground where the eggs will be laid. Many people cringe or panic at the mere mention of bees, let alone hundreds of them flying around one’s yard. But fear not, these bees are solitary (they nest in a group but do not have a colony to defend) and are not aggressive.

These bees are not only native, but are wonderful pollinators of spring flowers. They are also only active for a few weeks, at which time the adults die out, leaving their larvae to develop underground; thus, we suggest leaving them alone, if possible. It can be a safe and wonderful experience seeing these insects out and about, and they are an integral part of our local ecosystem.

If you really must get rid of these bees, then try irrigating the turf heavily, or fertilize with organic matter, and use ground covers or heavy mulches in areas of bare soil. In areas where nests are present, tilling of the soil may help partially destroy tunnels, but establishment of dense turf is the best discouragement to further nesting. Chemical control options are available but are rarely required. Most common turf insecticides with bees on the label will provide control. However, the best defense is to promote dense vegetation or turf to discourage bees from nesting on your property. But if you can stand them for a few weeks, please let them BEE!!!

To learn more about ground nesting bees, visit the Extension note, Ground-Nesting Bees in Turf. If you have questions or would like to discuss this topic further, please contact Daniel Simpson at 252-745-4121 or daniel_simpson@ncsu.edu.