Peter, We live in Ballston Spa. We are infested with ground bees. Last year we had one nest, put gasoline down it, and it was gone. This year, there are hundreds of holes, and thousands of bees. PLEASE HELP. We cannot even enjoy our yard or garden for fear of getting stung. We love our yard and gardens, but we are stuck inside. I have heard you are the expert on “just about everything” so I am hoping you can help us. Thank you in advance. Kim and Brian
There are a couple of suspects possible. Yellowjackets, which mimic bees nest in the ground. There is one entrance and all the insects would go in and out of the one hole. Yellowjackets are wasps and should be eliminated. I’d mix up some insecticidal soad in some hot water and pour it down the hole at night when the yellowjackets wasps are dormant. Trying this in the daytime would be dangerous. Mark the hole and douse it at night when it is safer. Plug up the hole with a wad of newspaper or a rock to seal them in with the insecticidal soap. There are also ground nesting bees which can appear in large numbers in spring and seem to like sandy soil. These bees stay for only a little while. They are females who dig a nest. Lay their eggs and leave. Later the eggs hatch and they fly off as well. These beneficial bees will be one to a hole but there will be many holes. Below is a description of them from this site: http://www.nybiodiversity.org/summaries/bees/species.html The majority of bees in New York State are digger bees, ground-nesting, solitary bees, such as Andrena, Lasioglossum, and Melissodes. Digger bees comprise roughly 60% of the species of bees in New York State. Species of Andrena are typical of ground-nesting bees in their life history. At the start of the active season (in the spring, summer, or fall, depending on the species) females begin constructing their nests, subterranean systems of tunnels. At the ends of the tunnels, females construct oblong cells which they line with a hydrophobic secretion produced in a gland specifically for this purpose called the Dufour’s gland. After foraging on nearby plants for pollen and nectar, they store several loads of pollen and nectar within each cell, form the pollen into a variously shaped loaf or ball, and lay an egg on it. Larvae consume the pollen/nectar provisions. When larvae complete feeding they may enter diapause (a resting stage) as last instar larvae (the developmental stage just before pupation). Most digger bees overwinter as last instar larvae. Development is completed in the following spring or summer, and adults of a new generation begin the cycle again. Some digger bees (such as Andrena, Halictus, and Lasioglossum) overwinter as adults. This is presumed to allow for the earlier adult emergence in the spring. Other important genera of ground-nesting bees in New York State include Colletes, Halictus, [mentioned above, as digger bee genus] Svastra, and Anthophora. All of these make subterranean burrows, like Andrena. Colletes inaequalis is a common vernal bee in the earliest days of spring. Females construct nests in grassy areas such as lawns, cemeteries, and gardens. Nesting aggregations can be huge (with several thousand nests) and dense (with over 100 nests in a square meter). If you are lucky enough to find these bees nesting in your yard, don’t try to kill them; they won’t sting, and they are probably good for soil aeration. They are also fun to watch! It is possible that you had some yellowjacket wasps in the one spot last summer and are experiencing a temporary outbreak of nesting ground bees. You’ll have to observe them more closely to see which it is.