Mining bees are solitary, ground-nesting insects that belong to the genus of andrena bees found in the family known as Andrenidae.
The inclusion of more than 1,500 separate species makes this one of the largest classifications of living things on earth.
Although not so well known by the general public, entomologists have been studying the mining bee’s complex, unique nesting behavior for years.
These insects seem to defy the nature of bees as the world knows them in a number of fascinating ways.
Mining bees are 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, and while they often vary in color, they are mostly dark, some with markings of white, yellow or reddish brown.
They are smaller than honeybees and have pudgy, furry bodies, which are sometimes mistaken for bumblebees.
Despite their small stature, mining bees are very important to flower pollination, especially in the eastern regions of the United States.
Our pest-control and pest-maintenance specialists at Pestco Professional Services understand and respect their docile nature and importance to the cycle of life as pollinators.
They do warn, however, that when threatened, the females will sting and the venom can be potentially dangerous to those who may be allergic.
The males of the species have no stingers, but they swarm intruders to their space, which is highly unpleasant to experience.
Mining bees thrive in varied habitats and do not live in well-defended, queen-centric colonies like other bees and wasps.
There is only one member of this species that is an exception to this rule and that is the bumblebee. They prefer dry soil, as wet soil deters their nesting process.
They make their homes in well drained soils that are found in clay, hills, road cuts, between the stones of old buildings, edges of woodland, meadows, brownfield sites, logs in cabins or barns and along river banks.
Each mining bee female digs a tunnel and creates a chimney-like turret, which serves as a nest for her young.
While other nests are often nearby and collectively resemble a small village, there is no overlap of generations and each female fends only for herself and her young.
This greatly limits multiplication of the species. Mining bees have been known to return to the same nesting locations for many years.
Unlike other bees, this species does not release honey, but they do have their place in Mother Nature’s order of things as important “ buzz pollinators.”
They emit a vibration, which causes flowers to release their pollen. The adults eat nectar but are very selective, and are drawn to only a few plants.
These include: dandelions, Blackthorn, Hawthorne buttercups and a few others. They are particularly important as pollinators for spring-blooming food crops, which include: apples, cherries, and blueberries.
Pollen and nectar are essential to their survival and they are stored in the nest as food for their larvae.
Mining bees are known by many names. Besides the Latin andrenid, other monikers include: chimney and cellophane bees, ground bees, which refers to any species that burrows underground; digger bees, plasterer bees; sweat bees, leaf-cutter bees and mason bees.
The process of naming bees derives from both scientific and common sources. In the case of mining bees, their names refer to observed behavior.
A scientist can also name a species after himself, an admired colleague or after the habitat and region in which the discovery of the species was made.
The Mining Bee And Pittsburgh Pest Control
Our pest-control and pest-maintenance specialists at Pestco can advise about the behavior of this pest, take steps for prevention, and offer effective treatment solutions, should an infestation occur.
While mining bees do not present specific threats to health or building structures, they can be annoying and a significant nuisance to businesses, homes, loved family members and pets.
Pest control measures should only be taken if the bees are nesting too close to human activity.
Removing mining bees is not always a straight forward procedure, and it is usually not necessary to kill them since they benefit the environment of planet Earth.
Over time, their elimination could become a threat to the eco system.
Chemicals are not recommended, as they can easily backfire and become potentially hazardous to children, pets and soil.
Our expert technicians provide some safer alternatives for the removal of ground bees, but warn that these DIY methods can aggravate bees and should be performed only at night when they are asleep and never by a home owner who is allergic to bees.
They include: covering the nesting holes with bricks, which will prevent the bees from ingress to lay eggs; wetting the soil via a sprinkler to avoid close contact; sprinkling cinnamon on the holes of the nest every day for a week and using a vinegar spray (1 cup vinegar and one cup water).
How To Prevent Mining Bees From Nesting In Your Yard
- Water your yard regularly. Ground bees require dry soil to dig up their nests.
- Plant more grass in your yard. Bare patches of thinning grass are very attractive to mining bees and encourages their tunneling activities.
- Remove piles of bricks and rocks.because this will eliminate potential nesting sites for ground bees. Rock gardens serve to enhance the beauty of a yard, but they can also provide safe haven and nesting ground for ground bees.
- Wait patiently for results, as it does take some time for these solutions to take hold.
The Friendliest Most Effect Pittsburgh Pest Control
Mining bees may not be serious pests, but they can affect the quality of human life if they nest too close to homes and property.
If your Pittsburgh home has been infested by mining bees, or other more destructive insects or rodents, call our teams at Pestco today — we’re here to help in any way that they can.
Final thought about bees: The hum of the bee is the voice of the garden. ~ Elizabeth Lawrence
Photo Credits: Pixabay and Shutterstock