How to Get Rid of Ground Bees in Your Yard

Wandering through a well-manicured lawn or resting on a deck or patio brings joy to many homeowners. But that sense of peace is easily interrupted, particularly if you spot stinging insects flying out of a hole in your lawn. If that happens, the only thing on your mind is typically figuring out how to get rid of ground bees in your yard.

Getting rid of ground bees in your yard is possible, and several approaches work well. Covering nest holes, soaking the soil, and using a vinegar solution often leads to positive results. Deterrents like cinnamon and peppermint oil are also potentially effective.

However, other options are also on the table. If you need to figure out how to get rid of ground bees in your yard, here’s what you need to know.

How to Get Rid of Ground Bees

What Are Ground Bees?

Ground bees aren’t just a single insect. Instead, it’s a term that refers to any ground-dwelling bee, including species like leafcutter, mason, seat, mining, and plasterer bees, among others. However, there are also ground-dwelling wasps and hornets.

Many people confuse bees, wasps, and hornets, particularly at a quick glance. The issue is that each species may introduce different risk levels, as some are more aggressive or dangerous than others.

Additionally, ground bees, wasps, and hornets don’t always nest the same way. Some ground bees are solitary, while others may form large underground nests.

Typically, ground bees have a fuzzy appearance, which can help differentiate them from wasps or hornets. Additionally, ground bees are more likely to run from a threat than aggressively defend their territory, though aggression levels do vary by species.

Are Ground Bees Dangerous?

Generally speaking, ground bees aren’t overly dangerous, and some are outright docile. They’re more likely to flee than actively defend their territory. Additionally, they tend to nest alone or in small groups instead of forming large nests.

Many male ground bees may appear aggressive initially, as they’ll actively patrol areas looking for females. However, male ground bees often don’t have stingers, making them functionally harmless to people and pets.

While female ground bees can have stingers, they aren’t inclined to defend existing nests. As a result, any stings are usually caused by accidental contact – such as stepping on a bee – or actively aggressive moves by people or pets that result in stings. That can include a dog attempting to eat a ground bee or people trying to catch them in their hands.

With ground-dwelling wasps or hornets, the danger is elevated. Aggressive defending territory is far more common with these species, which puts people and pets at risk. Additionally, ground hornets and wasps build large nests, increasing the danger even more.

Their drive to defend their nests sometimes causes ground wasps and hornets to attack people and pets near the nest. As a result, they’re dangerous even if you don’t actively disturb a nest. However, interacting with the nest increases the risk even more, so it’s usually wise to avoid the nest and surrounding area until you have a plan for dealing with them.

Can Ground Bees Damage Your Lawn?

In most cases, ground bees aren’t harmful to your lawn in a grander sense. While the small dirt piles near nest entrances are potentially unsightly, they’re usually relatively shallow. Sometimes, the nests even assist with aeration, making them beneficial.

However, the situation changes with ground wasps and hornets, depending on whether bigger nests are common for the species. Some ground-dwelling hornets and wasps are more solitary and build smaller nests like most ground bees. As a result, they aren’t any more harmful to your yard.

With larger nests, damage to your lawn is possible. When a nest grows, the soil in the area loosens. This may lead to holes that can cause trips and falls or can even cause sinkholes if they’re big enough and collapse.

As a result, large nests are potentially harmful to your lawn. Along with possibly killing grass, soil collapse makes the surface uneven, making them more dangerous.

How to Get Rid of Ground Bees in Your Yard

What Are Ground Bees

1. Covering Nest Holes

With ground bees, covering nest holes is one of the simplest options. Ground bees aren’t as concerned about territory, so a blocked entrance usually causes them to move to another spot.

In most cases, items like bricks or large stones are appropriate for blocking nest entrances when dealing with ground bees. Just be aware that they may not go far if nearby soil is suitable for nesting and other deterrents aren’t part of the equation.

It’s important to note that covering the nest opening of a ground wasp or hornet nest is risky. Ground wasps and hornets are inclined to defend their nests, so moving close enough to block it could lead to an attack.

Similarly, covering nest holes yourself isn’t wise if you’re allergic to bees. While ground bees aren’t traditionally aggressive, if they’re in the nest at the time, a female may feel threatened enough to sting in defense. There’s a higher chance of accidental contact, which could lead to a sting even if the bee is trying to flee.

2. Wetting Down the Soil

Ground bees, wasps, and hornets prefer dry soil for their nests. As a result, soaking the area around the nest regularly may prompt them to move on to another spot.

For this strategy to work, wetting down the soil just once won’t usually work. Instead, you need to keep the area damp until the nesting season ends. As a result, you may want to use sprinklers to keep the ground moist, or you’ll need to hand water regularly.

How often you need to dampen the dirt varies depending on your climate. If you’re in a hot, sunny, and dry region, more frequent watering is necessary than if you get regular rain and have cooler temperatures with less direct sunlight.

3. Planting Grass

In most cases, ground bees, hornets, and wasps have a more challenging time creating nests if your yard is covered in vegetation. Seeding your lawn to thicken grass can make your yard seem like a poor choice for a nesting area.

This option typically isn’t going to yield immediate results, as it takes time for grass to grow. However, when combined with other options, it’s a straightforward longer-term solution.

Additionally, allowing your grass to grow a bit longer helps. When your grass is thick and taller, finding nest entrances is more challenging for ground bees, wasps, and hornets. Again, this makes your yard a less viable option for nesting, which can discourage them from coming to the area.

4. Remove Rock Piles

While most people assume that ground bees only nest in soil, that isn’t the case. Some will also use rock piles as nesting spots, so removing them is wise.

Exercise caution if there’s an active ground bee, hornet, or wasp nest in a rock pile. This approach requires direct contact with a nesting area, which increases the odds of accidental or intentional stings. As a result, anyone allergic to bees shouldn’t use this strategy, and you may want to use another deterrent method to get the ground bees, hornets, or wasps to leave before interacting with the rocks.

5. Apply Vinegar Solution

VinegarDistilled white vinegar is a popular choice for dealing with a wide variety of pests and works well against ground bees, hornets, and wasps. While ratio recommendations vary, aiming for a 50/50 vinegar-to-water solution is often reasonable. Put the vinegar and water in a spray bottle, gently shake to combine, and then spray the nest opening.

It’s important to note that vinegar isn’t just a deterrent; it can potentially kill bees, hornets, and wasps. As a result, it’s not an ideal approach for ground bees, as they are beneficial to the environment and pose little risk to most people.

However, killing bees could be a goal if you’re allergic to bees. Just keep in mind that vinegar can also harm your lawn and nearby plants, so you need to limit the application as much as possible.

6. Sprinkle Nest Holes with Cinnamon

McCormick Ground Cinnamon, 7.12 ozCinnamon is a natural ground bee deterrent that’s generally safe for people and pets. Plus, it’s highly accessible, as many households have some on hand.

Simply sprinkling cinnamon over nest holes can encourage a ground bee to move on from that particular nest. Just make sure you apply some daily for around a week. Additionally, if it rains or you soak the area, you’ll need to reapply as the water may wash it away.

Cinnamon also deters wasps and hornets. However, sprinkling some directly over the nest hole puts you at risk since you need to get close. As a result, you may want to try using a cinnamon solution that you can spray, allowing you to maintain some distance.

Additionally, this isn’t a solid choice if you’re allergic to bee stings. Again, you must get very close to the nest to apply the cinnamon, which creates a sting risk even if the bee isn’t aggressive.

7. Use a Peppermint Spray

Peppermint Linen and Room Spray, Natural Aromatic Mist Made with Pure Peppermint Essential Oil, Relax Your Body & Mind, Perfect as a Bathroom Air Freshener Odor Eliminator (8.5 fl oz)Peppermint is another natural deterrent that’s effective against many pests, including bees, wasps, and hornets. Usually, the easiest application option is to create a peppermint spray.

Take a spray bottle and fill it partially with water. Then, add 15 drops of peppermint essential oil per each ounce of water in the bottle. Swirl the bottle to combine and then spray the nest area.

As with most scent-based deterrents, you’ll need to apply the peppermint spray daily for about a week to get results. Additionally, reapply after it rains or after watering the nest area.

8. Trap the Bees with Sugar Water

Creating your own bee trap is relatively simple. Take a 2-liter soda bottle and cut off the top right below where it hits its widest diameter. Invert the top section, place it inside the bottom part of the bottle, and secure it with staples or strong waterproof tape.

Then, add ¼ cup of sugar to one cup of hot water in a separate container, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Wait for the sugar water to cool, and then pour it into the bottle. Finally, place the bottle in your yard or punch holes in the top and hang it from a tree, fence post, or something similar using twine.

Since this is a lethal trap, you may want to skip it if you’re dealing with ground bees and have no specific reason to kill them. However, those who are allergic to bees may want to consider this method, as it doesn’t involve directly interacting with the nest.

Just keep in mind that a sugar water trap may also attract other pests, including bees that aren’t nesting in your yard. As a result, keep it away from your home and dispose of it quickly once your ground bee problem is resolved or the season ends.

9. Commercial Pesticides

Commercial pesticides can kill ground bees, wasps, and hornets. However, these are chemical-based, making them hazardous to people, pets, and many forms of wildlife. Additionally, if you’re not dealing with a large nest, most would consider them overkill.

Still, commercial pesticides are an effective way to deal with the problem. Read the manufacturer’s directions, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and exercise caution when approaching the nest.

Remember, moving toward the nest can prompt an attack from ground wasps and hornets, and close proximity could even lead less aggressive ground bees to defend themselves. As a result, you shouldn’t use this option if the risk is high or you’re allergic to bees.

10. Contact a Professional

In many cases, contacting a professional isn’t necessary for the occasional ground bee, as the options above are generally effective. However, if you’re allergic, involving a professional keeps you out of harm’s way.

For ground wasps and hornets, turning to a professional is a wise choice. They’ll have appropriate safety gear and treatment options to deal with the problem, all while you remain safely inside. Plus, they can tackle even large nests reasonably quickly.

Why Are Ground Bees in Your Yard?

Ground bees typically choose yards because they offer ideal nesting conditions. In most cases, that includes offering dry soil and spots with little or no grass or plants.

Proximity to food and water sources is also a factor. If your garden features a lot of flowers and there are spots for ground bees to grab a drink, that makes your yard a more attractive option.

Ground wasps and hornets are similarly motivated. They also prefer drier soil that isn’t densely covered with grass or that has spots underneath bushes that can conceal nest entrances. Along with a water source, pests that can serve as meals make your yard look like a good place for a nest.

How to Identify a Ground Bee Nest

Ground bee nests have visible openings on the surface of your yard. Usually, they’re in a small mound of dirt, with the entrance being a smaller hole in the middle.

Ground wasps and hornets have similar nest openings. However, the dirt pile is potentially taller and more conical, though it may also seem relatively flat depending on how much soil is removed and how loose the dirt is in that area. Additionally, the entrance hole is notably larger, even if it’s just a single wasp or hornet using that nest.

How Long Do Ground Bees Stay in a Nest?

Ground bees typically stay in a nest for four to six weeks. Depending on weather conditions, they usually become active in the early spring and may remain out during the warmer months. However, they aren’t necessarily nesting the entire time.

Once the temperature falls, queen ground bees typically hibernate and won’t become active again until the following year. Beyond those bees, the rest usually die off. As a result, you usually only have to worry about ground bees being active in your yard for a very short period. Then, you can work on making your yard a less attractive option before the next year.

Are Ground Bees Aggressive?

Ground bee species typically aren’t aggressive. Plus, many males don’t have stingers, eliminating most of the risk even if they’re more active. However, that doesn’t mean stings are impossible; they typically only occur if a ground bee cannot flee an aggressor or through accidental contact.

With ground hornets and wasps, aggression is an issue. They’ll adamantly defend their territory, so they may attack people and pets for simply being near a nest, even if they aren’t overtly aggressed.

Should You Kill Ground Bees?

In many cases, killing ground bees isn’t a wise idea. They play a critical role in the ecosystem since they’re pollinators. Couple that with the fact that most aren’t aggressive and don’t typically harm your yard, and it’s better to deter them from staying than outright killing them.

However, ground bees do pose some risk. Females can potentially sting if aggressed, and they’re not able to flee. Additionally, accidentally stepping on or contacting a stinging ground bee is possible.

If your household has anyone in it who’s allergic to bee stings, killing the ground bees may seem like a better choice. That ensures they won’t simply move to another spot in your yard.

However, it’s important to note that some bee species, including certain ground-dwelling species, are protected. As a result, using certain approaches or pesticides isn’t always allowed based on applicable laws, as they can spread and kill many bees. Since that’s the case, it’s generally best to focus on natural deterrents whenever possible or use methods that aren’t likely to spread.

Wasps and hornets aren’t as effective as pollinators, though they can help keep other pests under control since they’re typically carnivores. However, the increased risk can make killing them a wiser choice.

Their tendency toward highly aggressive behavior and the potential for larger, ground-damaging nests is a factor. As a result, that may make killing them the smarter move if deterrents aren’t effective or their population gets especially high.

Does Vinegar Kill Ground Bees?

Vinegar is potentially lethal to ground bees, particularly if they come in direct contact with it. The same is true of ground wasps and hornets. As a result, you should only use it on nests if your goal is to kill the bees, wasps, or hornets.

How to Prevent Ground Bees from Nesting in Your Yard

To prevent ground bees from nesting in your yard, you need to make your lawn less hospitable. Water the grass and nearby plants regularly to keep the soil damp and plant grass in bare or thin areas. Additionally, remove rock or similar debris piles.

Applying scent deterrents to parts of your yard may also discourage nesting. For example, spraying overhangs, covered patio ceilings, and similar areas with peppermint spray keep pests away from those areas. Since the aroma may travel, it could also help protect your yard.

The Best Way to Get Rid of Ground Bees in Your Yard

Generally, the best way to get rid of ground bees is by making your yard unattractive for nesting and using the non-lethal deterrents discussed above. For ground wasps and hornets, killing them could be a better choice, though make sure to call a professional regardless of what you’re dealing with if you’re allergic to stings.

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