Ask a Question forum→Ground Holes -- Bees?

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Name: China
Woodbridge, VA (Zone 7a)
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chinwa3
May 8, 2020 11:10 AM CST
Does anyone know what insect is making these ground holes? They return every spring and appear to be bees, so I haven't bothered them to this point, but I want to at least rule out termites. They're clustered under my deck stairs but also scattered throughout the yard. They haven't stung any people or pets, but the swarming every spring is a nuisance.
Edit: I appreciate the suggestion, Bill. I thought ants, too, at first. I haven't caught one but they're pretty slow flying and from what I can tell, they're fuzzy, black, and tawny like bees, though slimmer than normal bumble bees I've seen before. I've just never known bees that come out of the ground.
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[Last edited by chinwa3 - May 8, 2020 11:27 AM (+)]
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Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
May 8, 2020 11:20 AM CST
They are not termites. I'm thinking ants.
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
May 8, 2020 2:47 PM CST
I agree with Bill. There are ground dwelling bees, but these holes look like the entries to ant nests.
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Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
May 8, 2020 3:16 PM CST
My first thought was a type of Digger Bee.

Edited to post a link to Va. native Bees, which includes a Digger Bee (Andrenid species): https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/co...
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[Last edited by plantladylin - May 8, 2020 3:20 PM (+)]
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Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
May 8, 2020 3:36 PM CST
A photo of the little mounds of soil from ground nesting bees. https://entomology.cals.cornel...

This second link has even better photos of the nest areas. https://modernfarmer.com/2016/...

How exciting, they are great pollinators.
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
May 8, 2020 3:48 PM CST
A digger bee, I'll have to check that out. The most common ground dwelling bees we have here are bumbles and carpenters. Not sure if we have digger bees.
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
May 8, 2020 3:55 PM CST
Yes, I know carpenters prefer wood, but I've actually seen them emerging from the ground from under a rotting old log. The articles were fascinating. I stand corrected! Our soil is very heavy here, that may be a reason that I don't see them.
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Name: Kim
Black Hills, SD (Zone 5a)
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KFredenburg
May 8, 2020 3:57 PM CST
BigBill said:They are not termites. I'm thinking ants.


Definitely looks like ants Bill. We get those holes all around our yard all the time. They've never done any damage, although I'd be worried with them that close to your house Chinwa.
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[Last edited by KFredenburg - May 8, 2020 3:58 PM (+)]
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Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
May 8, 2020 5:03 PM CST
Well I have seen ants make huge underground nests with dozens of entrances when they have a big food source. Colonies of over 1million ants are commonly reported.
Now for any underground bee or wasp to do that, now that would be extraordinary. Plus I think that a great number of our sub terrainian bees are predatory stinging and burying a single host insect. I dont think that those types of bees, Hornets or wasps would nest or burrow that close together.
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Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
May 8, 2020 9:10 PM CST
Bill, did you read down the page about ground bees? It really is quite interesting. And the colony of holes in this short article look very much like the colony of holes in this article.

And reading what China said, it matches up with the article.
chinwa3 said:Does anyone know what insect is making these ground holes? They return every spring and appear to be bees, so I haven't bothered them to this point, but I want to at least rule out termites. They're clustered under my deck stairs but also scattered throughout the yard. They haven't stung any people or pets, but the swarming every spring is a nuisance.
Edit: I appreciate the suggestion, Bill. I thought ants, too, at first. I haven't caught one but they're pretty slow flying and from what I can tell, they're fuzzy, black, and tawny like bees, though slimmer than normal bumble bees I've seen before. I've just never known bees that come out of the ground.
Thumb of 2020-05-08/chinwa3/c7b41c


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LarryCrutchley
May 8, 2020 9:27 PM CST
We have a bee similar that is about 1 1/2 inch long that come out of holes in the ground with a stinger 1/4 inch long.I've been told that they will sting.I don't know the name of them but they eat the bark off of lilac bushes and eat the inside of the pairs on my pear tree.

Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
May 8, 2020 9:42 PM CST
Most of these little guys don't sting and are not destructive. We have several kinds here that are great companions in the garden.
Name: Steve
Port Orchard, WA (Zone 8b)
BrooklynStart
May 8, 2020 11:03 PM CST
Have this type of bee in an area atop of where the septic storage tanks are located. Area is dry, has 15-20 holes, with one bee per hole. The ones here are black, and about 1/4" long. Once tried to get rid of them by covering the holes, no luck. Never tried to find out how deep the holes are, but an article just read stated that each hole is the entrance/exit for just one bee. They dig by blowing the soil away, it's like they send a puff of air that moves dirt. The puff is at the center of the hole and results in the small mounds around the hole.
[Last edited by BrooklynStart - May 8, 2020 11:19 PM (+)]
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Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
May 9, 2020 2:22 AM CST
Ants or bees, very cool.
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Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
May 9, 2020 8:21 AM CST
valleylynn said:Most of these little guys don't sting and are not destructive. We have several kinds here that are great companions in the garden.


Ditto...
If you spend much time outside, you'll be able to see the solitary bees dragging huge bugs and spiders down those tunnels... very cool!

Here's one digging a hole at my house a number of years ago...
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Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
May 9, 2020 9:58 AM CST
Very cool photo stone. And what is that you cat has?
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
May 9, 2020 10:38 AM CST
https://beehivehero.com/digger...
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Name: Lynn
Oregon City, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level
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valleylynn
May 9, 2020 10:12 PM CST
Great article Rj. Thank you for the link.

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