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What are Digger Bees & How to Get Rid of Them

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For some people, the mere sight of bees could potentially mean being rushed to the emergency room and respiratory distress. Some of the meanest bees around live in the ground (yellow Jackets). These bees are social bees and when one stings you, they all come after you. These bees are easily distinguishable because the swarm usually all comes out of the same hole in the ground.




Ground bees, aka digger bees, come in thousands of different species. These bees, for the most part, are the polar opposite of yellow jackets. These bees are solitary creatures and the females will dig their own hole in the ground to lay their eggs. These bees spend the winter underground in the pupa stage, to emerge in the spring as adult bees. Here they look for a new place to dig a new hole and lay their eggs. Male bees will swarm over the colonies waiting for these females to emerge to mate.




Most species of these bees are very docile and will rarely sting unless captured in your hand or caught in clothing. If you are allergic to bees then don’t tempt fate because even though their sting is mild, they could produce venom that can send you to the ER. I was standing in a swarm of these bees right after riding my lawn mower over them 15 times when I took these pictures (April 17th). I was not stung once while trying to take their picture from 4 inches away.



How Do I Get Rid Of These Bees?



Although these bees are great for pollinating the garden and flowers, it would take a special person to not want to get rid of them. Their holes in the ground can be mistaken for ant hills but when they hatch, there is no mistaking them. They prefer to dig their holes in an unkempt part of the lawn where grass is sparse. They also like a well-drained soil. Covering the colony with mulch will make these bees relocate. Hitting these bees with copious amounts of water (1+ inches) over a week’s time is another tactic that people have found to work to get these bees to leave.

With the recent increase of colony collapse of our honey bees, cross pollinators (bees) are becoming more and more important and educating the populous on the role of our bees and the threat our food supply is under if we lose them is becoming so so important. Chasing these bees off is certainly the suggested option here. Killing these bees is certainly not recommended.

If our endangered honeybees become extinct, some other bees are going to have to pick up the ball and run with it. These bees would be perfect for that because they are solitary bees and wont die if their queen gets sick.


These bees are much more difficult to kill than yellow jackets because digger bee colonies can be scattered over thousands of square foot. A small, newer colony can be eradicated fairly simply by using a Wasp and Hornet spray. Couple this spray with a lawn mower and you can make short work of a colony. You will need the spray to make contact with the bee in order to kill them so spray when they are actively swarming. For larger colonies, a granular may have a more broad reach over a bigger area. Bayer complete insect killer may be a better option. Spread a granular in the evening once they are in their holes and water in or use the liquid form. This stands the best chance of killing the larva that is in the ground as well.

Other Related Articles:

Your Introduction to becoming a Beekeeper

Killing Yellow Jackets

How to fix holes created by carpenter bees

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Posted 2015-04-19T18:46:40+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL Ingar_HD_ATL
Ok - maybe I'm that special person but why exactly would I want to kill these guys?  Yellow Jackets are one thing, but it seems we already have enough of a problem with bees being killed off by some disease.  My plants/flowers used to be covered by bees, but now I hardly see any.  Killing docile bees seems to make no sense.  Save the spray for the yellow jackets.
Posted 2015-04-24T01:20:57+0000  by Paul6103
I am with you Paul.

 I don't recommend killing these bees. Getting these bees to relocate would mean that you took over the unkempt lawn and made it look presentable which is not bad. These bees are good cross pollinators and although they are not endangered like the honey bee, they can take over a larger and larger area if not chased off.

I have edited the previous post, stressing the importance of our bees and cross pollinators. Chasing them off is certainly the best option and insecticides are to be considered a last resort.

So many people unfortunately are allergic to bees that sometimes, for them, killing bees is a necessity to avoid a visit to the ER.
Posted 2015-04-26T15:34:35+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL
Very informative!
Posted 2015-05-09T09:27:30+0000  by Cree

DO NOT USE 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 disappear until next year.

Posted 2020-04-13T02:14:31+0000  by DecaturInvestor
Hi! I think it's time to take down this ridiculous post. Personifying bees as "mean" is just plain silly, and making it seem like they are out to get humans (rather than the beneficial beings they are) is . . . .well, so many things, and none of them good.

Perhaps you could instead post information about how critical bees and other pollinators are to our ecosystems, and how many crops rely on these and other pollinators as well. I guess then you'd have to figure out what you could sell with that info. I'm sure there are plenty of products... How about native plants that don't come treated with pesticides?! :-)
Posted 2020-06-27T23:32:31+0000  by gardenernj
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