Ground Bees: A Quick Guide to Digger and Miner Bees

Ground Bees

Are you worried about ground bees taking up residence on your property?

Ground bees are generally harmless, but sometimes, they can be an issue, especially when building a nest where people usually walk or play.

Fortunately, ground bees can be easily removed if you follow the proper steps. Here’s what you need to know about ground, digger, or miner bees.

What are Ground Bees?

Ground bees is an umbrella term given to hundreds, if not thousands, of species of bees. As the name implies, these bees tend to dig into the ground or soft soil, where they make their homes.

Ground bees are solitary creatures that don’t live in large colonies like other species of bees. Only the female ground bee will dig tunnels in the ground during nest-making, while the males will wait nearby.

Most ground bees are relatively small, usually smaller than an inch, and most are between 0.25 and 0.5 inches. Since ground bees are so numerous, there may be ground bee species of varying sizes.

What Do Ground Bees Look Like?

As with their sizes, ground bees can have varying colors and patterns, depending on their specific species.

For instance, the miner or mining bee is a small ground bee covered in soft, light brown to cream-colored fur. There are some slight variations depending on the specific species of mining bee, though. Examples include the black-banded Andrena, which has a black band across its thorax, or the Tawny mining bee, which has a more fluffy patch of fur.

Another type of ground bee is the Bumble Bee, one of the world’s most popular and most recognizable types of bee. Bumble bees have black and yellow stripes, with the yellow part slightly larger than the black sections. They’re incredibly hairy and usually about an inch in size.

Ground Bees vs. Digger Bees

These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, so it’s understandable that you may need clarification. Although some people say they’re the same, others would like to distinguish between the two.

Ground bees, also known as ground-nesting bees, dig into the soil to create a nest for their eggs. On the other hand, digger bees are known to dig into all sorts of things, including wood-like logs or stumps.

Where Do Ground Bees Live?

Ground bees can be found anywhere globally, including in North and South America. They nest in the ground or soft soil, usually around tall grasses or flower beds.

10 Facts About Ground Bees

1. Ground bees make up 70% of the bee population

Ground bees are some of the most common bees in the world. They play a significant role in nature, pollinating wildflowers, crops, and other plants, contributing to a healthy environment. They can fly up to five miles searching for nectar and pollen, meaning ground bees are essential for our ecosystem.

2. Ground bees rarely sting.

Ground bees are typically not aggressive. Most species tend to be relatively docile and will only sting if provoked or feel threatened in some way. Since ground bees don’t live in colonies, they’re less likely to swarm when disturbed.

Additionally, like most other bees, only female ground bees have stingers and are not even territorial. Males tend to be much more active, but since they don’t have stingers, they don’t pose any real danger. The main thing you should worry about if you get stung is the possibility of an allergic reaction.

3. Most ground bees are only active for a short time.

Most ground bees are active for only part of the year. They usually emerge in late spring and early summer and become inactive around the middle of fall, as it will become too cold for them to survive.

Also, like many other bee species, ground bees are only active in the morning; at night, they seek shelter and return to their nests to sleep.

4. Most ground bees are solitary.

Ground bees dig into the soil to create their nests. Unlike honey bees, they don’t live in groups and prefer to live alone.

But one type of ground bee is different: the Bumble Bee. They are one of the few ground bees living in colonies, and Bumble Bees often settle in large holes already made by small animals.

Ground bees are solitary creatures that dig into the ground to create their homes. Bumble Bees are an exception, as they live in colonies and prefer to settle in large holes.

5. Ground bees lay nests underground.

Ground bee nests are composed of dry earth or sand, resembling small hills. Each nest measures 2.5-5 cm tall and 5-8 cm wide. There’s also a tiny hole in the middle, which they use as an entrance and an exit.

When it’s time to lay eggs, female ground bees use their mandibles to dig a chamber in the nest. They will then lay up to nine eggs per cell before sealing it off with mud or clay.

6. Their nests can often be found in groups.

Although ground bees make solitary nests, with only one female per nest, many people think that ground bees live in colonies because they often find their nests close to each other.

This is because ground bees prefer the open ground, with little to no vegetation, and will often nest in the same area if conditions are suitable.

7. Ground bees like the sun

Ground bees share one common trait: they enjoy basking in the sun. That’s why you’ll usually find their nests in areas of your garden that get ample sunlight.

It’s also not unusual to see female ground bees relaxing at the nest entrance to soak up some rays.

8. Ground bees disappear during winter.

As mentioned above, ground bees don’t like the cold, so they disappear when the temperatures drop.

Many of them are worker bees and simply reach the end of their natural life cycle. These bees typically survive only 4-6 weeks, so they don’t survive the winter.

The queen ground bees, on the other hand, will hibernate until the temperatures become more bearable.

9. Ground bees don’t like manicured lawns.

The best way to prevent ground bees from creating nests in your lawn is to keep it trimmed and well-maintained.

Ground bees prefer ground that could be better manicured, as it’s easier for them to dig their nests. So, if you want to ensure ground bees don’t nest in your garden, keep it mowed and debris-free.

10. Many species are at risk of extinction.

Sadly, ground bees are one of the many species of bee at risk of extinction. Habitat loss, climate change, and a disruption to their natural habitat all contribute to the decline of ground bee populations.

Even the American Bumble Bee, one of the most famous and common bees throughout the US, is at risk. Only 10% of its original population remains now. In September 2021, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it might soon be listed as an endangered species.

Managing Ground Bees at Home

While ground bees may not always be an issue, it is essential to note that ground bee nests can become problematic in areas where people tend to walk or play.

In addition, ground bee nests also tend to attract other pests like ants and wasps. If ground bee nests start to become a nuisance, there are some steps you can take to manage them at home:

  • Try natural pest control measures. This includes sprinkling ground cinnamon, ground black pepper, or ground lemon peels around the nest.
  •  Plant grass. Ground bees prefer ground with little to no vegetation. Planting grass around the nest can discourage their nesting.
  •  Regularly water your lawn. They also like dry land, so keeping your property well-watered can help keep ground bee populations down.
  •  Get the pros. If necessary, hire a professional pest controller to manage ground bee nests.


Ground bees are an incredible species of bee that can play a vital role in your garden’s ecosystem, so protecting them from extinction is essential.

By understanding ground bees and their behavior, you can also ensure that ground bee nests in your garden don’t cause any damage!

Thomas Callaghan

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