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Many bees with ground holes

Downers Grove, IL

I have an area of flagstones immediately behind my house, that serves as a kind of deck. My grill is out there, and you have to walk across the flagstones to get to our back yard proper.

A few years ago, I noticed in the spring (this time of year) that there were a few bees hovering about the flagstones. I also discovered little piles of dirt in between the stones, where the bees had apparently either tunneled in or out of the ground. The bees disappeared after a couple of weeks, and the rain made the little mounds of dirt disappear after a few weeks.

This activity has continued, to the point where now there are TONS of bees seemingly going in and out of a myriad of holes in the dirt in between the flagstones. It's getting to the point where it is problematic.

My guess is that this particular kind of bee lays eggs or something inside the ground. I really don't know what's going on, but they do disappear after a couple of weeks. But I can see that left unchecked this will get very troublesome by next spring, given how their numbers have increased every year.

Any help as to what is going on here (and how to eliminate these insects) would be appreciated. I have always adopted a "live and let live" philosophy with my gardens, but these guys are taking over. Any advice from bee experts appreciated. Thank you.

Michael

Forestville, NY

What do the bees look like if you can get a pic it could help to id them.

NORTH CENTRAL, PA(Zone 5a)

Those sound like yellow jackets. If that is correct they can be agressive and not one at a time. They team up without notice. Their stings are nasty for most people. Each one can deliver multiple stings. They are not nice. I use a foaming treatment for flying insects. It works for me. It is available by several names at most big box garden chemical outlets. You should investigate your local sources of help like a local nursery and garden center. The time to get after them, in my opinion is mid day when most are out gathering polen and necter. I fill the hole up with a blob of the foam and just sit there quietly watching them come flying home and land in the foam. The few that were under ground will get caught trying to leave the hole. Check the hole a day or two later too. Underground hatches may have continued calling for a second treatment.

Downers Grove, IL

Thanks docgipe, but I don't believe they're yellow jackets. And there's more than one hole - there are dozens of holes, all in the dirt in between the flagstones. And the bees disappear after a couple of weeks - it's not like they come and go all summer. Weird.

I will try and get a photo.

NORTH CENTRAL, PA(Zone 5a)

My suggestion will get any flying insect. Who cares what they are?

Downers Grove, IL

Here's one of the bees.

Thumbnail by mwalthius
Downers Grove, IL

Here is a picture showing a bunch of the holes in between the flagstones - they look like anthills, but they're not. There are dozens and dozens of these holes, all about the same size.

Thumbnail by mwalthius
Downers Grove, IL

It would appear these things are mining bees:

http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/homehort/pest/mining_bees.htm

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

Wow, that's interesting. It sounds like you pretty much went and created a just about perfect environment for them. 8>)

I wonder if you could do like the article says and mulch up part of the flagstones, so that you would have a passage to the rest of the yard, and then leave the rest of the stone as a bee nursery. It does sound like you can change conditions to discourage them, without having to kill them all. Let us know what you decide to do, and how it works out...

NORTH CENTRAL, PA(Zone 5a)

Many years ago and after many years of beekeeping they jumpped me and put me in the hospital. About six or eight honey bees got me. Another reason for destroying those bees is that you are liable should they sting one of your guests. It may seem unfair but you are not permitted to knowlingly maintain bee hives on your property without assuming the liability. Some people go down within a few minutes of a sting.

Downers Grove, IL

Well, I don't see myself "mulching" flagstones. And the bees gotta go, especially since every spring there exponentially more of them.

Richmond, TX

Perhaps soaking the area would discourage the adults and drown the babies.

Guntersville, AL

Looks like you have harmless, non-stinging ground bees, however, please check this website before any drastic measures are taken. Hope this post is not too late. Pollinators should NEVER be killed off, no matter how inconvenient they may be to humans.

http://beelab.osu.edu/factsheets/sheets/2143.html

Baltimore, MD

Has anyone heard that native pollinators are on the decline? It's easy to see why after reading this thread. If the bee is harmless, non stinging then why eradicate them. OK, so some buzzing may be irritating, but from what it sounds like they are seasonal. I have bumble bee's on my yard. The biggest danger they pose to my visitors is when one one of my visitors frantically smack themselves or one another trying to swat a bee. Really, the bees have bumped into me too many time to mention, but have never stung. And no, if wild bees on your property sting someone you are not liable. Just as if a wild squirrel bit someone, or even a stray dog, you can not be held liable. If you have a hive, defined as a box to house a colony of bees in, then you are a beekeeper and yes, you have a responsibility to your community and the honey bees to provide a safe environment.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

docgipe, *I* care what they are, the same as I try to distinguish between good & bad people and good & bad snakes. This forum is not about fearing & killing bees, it is about understanding & keeping them. For me, that applies to all pollinators & any other insect that plays a part in our gardening environment.

Kudos, mwalthius, for researching your little friends, even if you need to eradicate them. It sounds as if you will look for the best way possible.

NORTH CENTRAL, PA(Zone 5a)

Some of you folks are bee huggers and totally unaware of liability possibilities. I have been 99% organic gardening for more than fifty years. I kept bees for seven years with no problems from the three to five stings daily when I handled them in five hives. Then on one special day of their choice I was stung on the ankles by approximately a dozen of those kind easy to handle honey bees. I passed out within fifteen minutes on the way to the hospital. Eighteen hours later I came to. The hives were immediately given to the beekeeper that coached me. I have been stung since by three to five with no ill effects.

I have built housing and kept Mason Bees ever since. That would be about fifty years of beekeeping. The Mason Bee is thought to be the most gentle and the least toxic when on occasion they may sting someone. They are often called the most effective pollinators.

I believe to the original post my advise applies fairly and with good common sense. I'm sorry to say again that only the insane vow to keep anything under the guise of being whatever goodness they claim to be. One is responsible for anything on their property and anyone is liable if the questionable item is maintained without proof of control efforts should someone else be harmed......just as a boat owner is liable when tied up in a marina or along the shore. The legal term for that is an attractive nuisance.

There will be no further discussion or defense of my viewpoint. I am checked off this forum.

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

lol attractive nuisance.

But yeah, it is a little weird that this is the beekeeping forum, which makes it the best place to get information about bees in order to make good informed decisions, since there's not a bee-getting-rid-of forum.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

That's me, a bee hugger.

Highland, MD(Zone 7a)

me too I'm a bee hugger! I'd love to know what happened to the bees?

Madison, AL

I found this thread today when I was looking where to post a question about bees. We have been away for over a week on vacation. On returning yesterday I found about a dozen bees dead on my kitchen floor in a group and a few others dead scattered around the house. The only thing I can think of as to how they got in (and apparently died from no food or water and the heat in the house) was that the morning I left I brought into the house a potted soft touch holly gotten from Lowes that day. I put the pot down in a larger pot with an inch of water so that it would not dry out and die while I was away. I will take a picture and try to let you see what they look like, but they remind me of the miner bees posted above. Could they have been in the pot and waited until we left to come out - maybe hatched out?

Thumbnail by stillwood

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