The Q&A Archives: Ground Nesting Bees

Question: In the past two weeks, we have noticed small bees approximately 3/4 inch in length, nesting in the ground beneath two rose bushes and the adjoining annuals. There must be about 7 or 8 holes from which the bees come and go. With my grandchildren and my dog constantly near the area, what can I put on or in the holes that will kill the bees, without being harmful to the grandchildren and the dog? Also, we have a large, very old cherry tree that has many knots on it that ooze sap. This has become a feeding ground for black ants. Is there anything that can be put on this that will not harm the fruit of the tree or anyone going near it? Please answer asap, the bees are driving us crazy.

Answer: You can invert a clear bowl or mason jar over each of the holes in the ground to trap the wasps in their nesting areas. Do this at dusk, when all the wasps are at home. In the morning they'll try to leave the nest and will become trapped. They aren't smart enough to dig an escape hole, so they'll stay in the ground and eventually starve to death. Remove the jars after a week of inactivity in the nest, and cover the holes up with soil. Ground nesting wasps are beneficial insects in that they help pollinate flowers and prey on other insects - but if their nests are ill-placed and you're concerned about the health of your grandchildren, you're probably justified in exterminating them. Cherry trees are famous for oozing sap. You can place a cardboard collar around the trunk of the tree and spray it with the sticky substance called 'Tanglefoot'. Insects that crawl onto it will become hopelessly stuck. Be sure to remove and replace the trap as it becomes filled with ants or other ants will crawl across the bodies, just as if they were a bridge.

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