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Mining Bees in Lawns - Digger or Burrowing Bees

Mining Bees in Lawns

Mining bees are hardly worth writing about and should not be considered as a lawn problem - unless there is a large colony of them. Highly unlikely.

Digger or Burrowing Bees

They are small bees that live alone, borrowing into the lawn to make a nest for themselves. They are sometimes mistakenly identified at flying ants - mainly because of their size and the fact that the excavate fine soil which resembles a minute ant hill.

They do not have a sting of any consequence, and certainly not like that of the honey bee. They will rarely be present in anything other than 'just a few' and mining bees simply 'burrow' a small hole in the lawn, leave a very small mound of sandy soil which is best just scattered in dry conditions.

If - as they rarely do - they are present in larger numbers, then brush off the mounds in April/May. This is the time of year that the over-wintered adult appears and starts to think about building a nest for itself. They are 'loners' in that they have their own small nest, and do not colonise in community nests such as honey bees and wasps.

Mining Bees are happy to live in a loose gathering of like minded bees, and seem to be happy sharing food sources. However, they live most of their life alone - the underground nest being home for itself and its young.

Tawny Mining Bee

They are not harmful in the garden generally - nor lawn. They prefer a sandy or light soil, and sparsely vegetated. But they are also happy to populate a well kept lawn area.

They gather pollen as their main source of food, and this is stored underground in their nest - ready for the young grub - pupa - to feed on after hatching from the egg laid by the adult mining bee. Being pollen gatherers, they do much good by way of pollination in the garden, so should be considered as a friend in the garden. They do not eat plant material nor feed on roots when they burrow. Their normal choice of home patch will not in any case have many roots!

Most mining bees are smaller than the honey bee, and are varied in colour, together with which some seem to have shiny hair less bodies (probably the mining wasp!). There are several types of mining bees - the most common being the Tawny Mining Bee.

Tawny Mining Bee collecting Pollen.

Mining bees are interesting subjects to watch. The fact that they are not aggressive helps! It is normally the female that burrow her own nest, in which she will lay her eggs, which once they are hatched, will feed on the stock of pollen that has been built up by the mother.

The males of the Mining Bees are a little bit show off, performing aerial displays near the colony of nests. Each female is her own queen, and does not have to rely on the Queen Bee present in the large nests of the honey bees.

Tawny Mining Bee Nest

They are very active in spring and early summer, so are desirable as pollinators for fruit and vegetable garden - in the legume crops in particular.

They are not the group of hover wasps that are also beneficial - but by eating harmful insects.

Mining bees are said to be beneficial by way of aeratng the soil. This is a minimal aspect, and does not preclude the normal lawn aeration operations that still need to be carried out!

The nest of the solitary loner - the Tawny Mining Bee.

It would be foolhardy to treat this visitor as a pest. The nest excavations are at most, a little inconvenient. If present in large numbers, then simply brush them off on a dry day.

There should be room in your garden for such insects. To kill the mining bees with chemicals would be entirely without justification!


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