Darrell Blackwelder: Ground bees are beneficial

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 21, 2019

Someone asked me about some type of bee flying in their backyard, wondering what they were and if they were dangerous.

They looked just like honeybees, but they were boring in the soil, producing undesirable mounds of red clay.

The lawn is infested with ground bees — or solitary bees. These insects bore individual holes into clay soils. They are most likely to build their nests in areas in lawns with areas of bare soil or very sparse vegetation.

The bees look much like honey bees hovering over the soil, however, these are solitary insects and keep to themselves.

In late spring, females burrow six or more inches into the soil and lay a single egg in the hole, with a pollen ball. When the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the pollen and continues to develop throughout the year.

The new generation will emerge the following year in the spring. They are excellent pollinators and not aggressive as yellow jackets or hornets are. In some instances, they could be considered a nuisance to homeowners, especially to those with severe allergic reactions or small children.

If you have great fears, use an insecticide carefully to control them. Please remember — if the insecticide will kill ground bees, it will also kill honeybees and other important insect pollinators, so be careful.

Read more detailed information about ground bees at https://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/insects/bees-in-turf/