Bees That Live In The Ground: Curious Bee World Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
Oct 25, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Nov 17, 2021
Bee on a purple flower.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.4 Min

Did you know that all bees do not live in beehives, and not all of them make honey?

Surprising, but yes, it's absolutely true! There are over 20,000 species of bees, and most of these bee species nest underground and are therefore called ground bees.

Ground nesting bees dig holes into the soil or repurpose the abandoned burrows of other small animals. Ground bees mostly nest in gardens, lawns, and backyards of houses. Although ground bees gather nectar and pollen, they do not make honey.

Ground bees are not very social. They are solitary and often semi-social. Instead of building and living in one shared hive, a ground bee prefers a different nest of its own. While ground bees often create nests near each other under mounds of dirt, each female bee burrows a hole and makes a separate nest to lay eggs.

Ground bees are often confused and mistaken for honey bees and wasps because of their similar size and appearance. However, ground bees are very distinct from honey bees and wasps. Do you want to know how they are different? Then keep reading as this article is going to reveal interesting facts about ground-nesting bees.

Are you enjoying this article on bees? Why don't you read other interesting fun fact articles on bumblebee facts and the biggest bird wingspan here on Kidadl!

How do you get rid of bees in the ground?

Ground bees are pretty harmless until they are provoked. You should not be concerned about ground bees unless they are troublesome and enter your residence.

The best natural method to get rid of bees in the ground is to dampen the soil to discourage bees from nesting underground. Another method that works is blocking or covering the entrance of bees' underground nest holes.

You can simply cover the entrance with a brick, rock or fill it up with soil to obstruct bees' access to their eggs.

One of the most effective methods to get rid of ground bees is sprinkling the soil or entrance of the bees' nests with strong-smelling scents. Cinnamon and peppermint act as natural deterrents.

You can sprinkle cinnamon or peppermint powder in soil mounds to discourage ground bees from building nest tunnels. You can also mix these powders with water and create a concoction to spray on the lawn ground.

You can make another DIY spray using vinegar and water. Simply mix equal parts vinegar and water, then spray it over the ground bees' chosen area.

You can also trap ground bees in big jars by filling the jar halfway with a sugary syrup. As bees are naturally attracted to sweet things, they will fly into the jar and drown.

If no natural remedies work for you in getting rid of ground bees, you can use chemical pesticides available on the market. These pesticides come in various forms like dust powders, sprays, and liquid or gel forms.

Chemical pesticides can be toxic to your lawn plants and soil; they can be harmful to children and pets as well. Therefore, they must be used with caution.

What kind of bees are black and live in the ground?

The term ground bee does not define any single species of bee. Any bee that digs out soil to build nests or sets up nests in abandoned burrows of small animals, such as rabbits, rats, moles, and the like, can be considered a ground bee.

In contrast to honey bees, these ground-nesting bees are solitary and hence do not live in colonies.

The size and color of a ground bee depend on which bee species it belongs to. Most species of ground bees are solitary. They are pretty similar in size, which is up to 0.5 in (1.2 cm) long.

Ground bees are often furry and black and yellow. However, some ground bee species can also be red, green, purple, or blue. They usually have a metallic tinge to them.

Ground bees are often confused with honey bees. They are not the same. As opposed to honey bees, ground bees are solitary and do not make honey. As opposed to honey bees, ground bees do not die after stinging. Ground bees are capable of stinging multiple times.

Ground bees can be often be mistaken with yellow jackets as they look like ground bees.

Unlike ground bees, yellow-jackets are a predatory, scavenging omnivorous type of wasp. Yellow-jacket wasps feed on nectar and fruits as well as other insects and carrion.

Yellow-jackets are aggressive wasp insects and are often dangerous as they are capable of stinging multiple times in succession as their stinger does not fall off after use, nor do they die after stinging.

There are over 200 bee species that are referred to as ground bees. Some of the most recognizable ground bees are bumblebees (Bombus pennysylvanicus). Bumblebees belong to the Apidae family. Bumblebees are black and yellow.

Bumblebees also have a fuzzy, hairy abdomen that helps in collecting pollen. Contrary to other ground-dwelling bees, bumblebees are one of the few species of ground bees that are pretty social and live in colonies. Bumblebees also make a small amount of honey that they feed on themselves.

Another type of ground-nesting bee is the sweat bee (Lasioglossum sp.). Sweat bees belong to the Halictidae family. Sweat bees are one of the most diverse species of bees.

These bees have metallic-tinged bodies. Sweat bees may be semi-social or solitary. Female sweat bees carry pollen on their back legs, whereas other bee species mainly collect pollen on their abdomens.

Mining or digger bees (Centris pallida) are among the ground bee species that belong to the family Apidae. These bees are often known as chimney bees. They burrow into soft and dry soil to build their nests.

Mining or digger bees are usually found in desert habitats as they prefer nesting in dry soil regions. These bees are relatively small, with furry patches on their faces. They are brightly striped with a metallic green tint.

Leafcutter bees (Megachile sp.) are also ground bees that are members of the Megachilidae family. These bees create their nests in plants with thick and firm stems or soft or rotting wood crevices.

These bees bite off leaves in semicircular pieces to arrange the cells in their nests. After choosing a burrow or a place for building a nest hole, the female leafcutter bee cuts off leaves to use in her nest tunnels. Leafcutter bees usually prefer plant leaves of roses, lilac, and creepers for their nest holes.

In addition, the alkali bee (Nomia melanderi), belonging to the family Halictidae, is a ground bee as well. Alkali bees are a type of sweat bee that is native to the western and southwestern United States. These bees build their nests in salty soil grounds.

This type of ground bee is spotted in salt flats. Alkali bees are similar in appearance to honeybees but are slightly smaller in size. These bees have iridescent yellow stripes that are made from enameled scales.

These bees prefer salty soil for their nest; they are often found in regions where other bees cannot nest and pollinate. Alkali bees are of significant importance to plants in the pea family.

It is challenging to pollinate plants in the pea family because the female and male parts of the flower are not initially exposed; that is when alkali bees come to the rescue as pollinators. These bees alight on flowers and spring open the lower petals of flowers, exposing the stamen and antlers for the pollination process.

These active bees are beneficial in pollination for crops like alfalfa, a member of the pea family; therefore, alfalfa farmers use alkali bees because they can pollinate more than 1,000 flowers in a day. Alfalfa farmers often cultivate alkali bee colonies as pollinators to use them for crop production.

Bees flying to the hive.

Are ground bees aggressive?

There are some species of bees and wasps that are pretty aggressive and sting hard. The sting of these insects cannot only be hurtful but can be fatal to humans and other creatures.

As opposed to social bees and wasps, ground bees are usually non-aggressive. Ground bees are generally very docile and gentle. These bees won't hurt you or chase you as long as you don't bother them.

Female ground bees have stingers for pricking when their nest is threatened, or their life is in danger. Whereas males are harmless as they do not have stingers; thus, they cannot sting or hurt you.

Do not dig into ground bees' nests, as they can sting you in an attempt to protect their nests and burrows.

How long do ground bees survive?

Ground bees are solitary bees that often have a short yet active and busy life.

The eggs of a ground bee are hatched underground, and the larvae spend their early months hiding in the ground or their nest, feeding on pollen and nectar that a female bee has stored within the nest.

The young larvae then transform into cocoons or pupa for around 11 months throughout the winter season and emerge as adults in the following early spring or early summer season.

Male bees come out first, and after feeding, they hover around the nest tunnels and wait for the female bees to mate. Once mating is completed, the males die, whereas the females begin the process of nesting.

The females search for a suitable site for building the nest and lay around 1-20 eggs at a time. The cycle keeps repeating. Once emerged out of the nest, the average lifespan for ground bees is about four to six weeks.

Ground bees can become prey to many predatory birds, insects, and animals. Birds such as woodpeckers, swifts, martins, mockingbirds, and kingbirds feed on ground bees.

Some insects also feed on bees, such as the small hive beetle, crab spider, dragonfly, wasp, and robber fly. Animals like bears, skunks, foxes, mice, weasels, and minks feed on bees and also eat their nest contents.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy!

If you liked our suggestions for 'Bees that live in the ground: curious bee world facts for kids', then why not take a look at 'Birds of Tennessee: amaze-wing birds facts for curious kids', or 'Birds with long beaks: must-know facts on long-billed birds for kids!

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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