University of Maryland Extension

Mining Bees - Lawns

Back to Common Problems - Lawns
(More insects from HGIC)

closeup of mining bee
Photo: Cheryl Moorehead, Bugwood.org

Mining, or digger bees nest in burrows in the ground. Unlike honey bees, mining bees are solitary bees. Each mining bee female usually digs her own burrow to rear her young. Large numbers of these bees may nest close together if soil conditions are suitable and will fly just above the ground. When this happens they frequently become a nuisance to some people. Fortunately, they are not aggressive, seldom sting and their flying activity lasts only 2 to 4 weeks. Sometimes large numbers of males will fly about the same spot for several days in a mating display.

Mining bees range in size from about the size of honey bees, to much smaller. The larger bees are furry and usually darker in color than honey bees. Some are brightly striped, while others are shiny metallic green. Mining bee burrows may be located wherever there is exposed soil and good drainage. The holes are about 1/4 inch in diameter and are sometimes surrounded by a small mound of soil.

Management

These bees are important pollinators and control should be avoided if possible. Heavy watering with a lawn sprinkler will discourage nesting behavior. Long-term control involves elimination of bare-ground areas and establishment of dense turf to discourage these bees. If the area is not conducive to a healthy lawn, ground covers or heavy mulches may provide an alternative solution. 

mining bee on soil

Additional Resource

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