Ground Nesting Bees Can't Sting

Mar 23, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The solitary, ground nesting bees that emerge as adults in the spring often cause alarm to people who don’t understand their behavior. Although there may be a hundred small holes in one area of well-drained, sparsely vegetated soil, the bees that exit those chambers with the arrival of spring have no social instinct to guard a  colony.

The presence of lots of nests simply means that the soil conditions there are just right for that particular type of ground nesting bee. Males emerge first and they hang around, hovering over the holes, hoping to mate with the females who emerge last. Females, of course, are busy and fly off to look for provisions for next year’s population, and those males are of no harm as male bees don’t have an ovipositor – the female’s egg laying structure that is modified into a stinger.