The mining bee and your lawn

By | 29/06/2014
The entrance to a mining bee nest

I have been seeing a lot of mining bee nests recently (Andrena sp.). It seems the hot early spring weather has set them into a nest building frenzy! These beautiful little bees build themselves curious structures that look like miniature volcanoes. They are usually around 5cm high, made of bits of soil, usually with a hole around 4mm wide at the top.

The little mound is the entrance to the nest, which is built by the female. It can go up to 60cm down, and contain many chambers for her eggs. Sometimes there may be several in the same patch of lawn, but they won’t be connected and aren’t part of a communal nest.

Mining bees can be found in loose groups, but are not social insects like honey bees or paper wasps. They are ‘sub-social’. This means that they don’t have a hive and divide labour between workers and queens like fully social bees and wasps. They have a commune-like system where there all live in the same place. They are closely related and share resources including food locations, but they rear their own young. They are primitive social insects.

The mining bee is harmless

In the garden Mining bees are extremely beneficial insects. They pollinate many different types of plants and their burrowing does not harm plants. It can also be beneficial in aerating the soil. If they are really causing a problem, wait until autumn/winter and turn the soil over in that area. The nesting chambers won’t be that deep and it should prevent recurrence the following year.

These solitary bees are valuable additions to your garden. They are harmless and do not sting. My advice is to just let them go about their business.

For more info and pics on mining bees check out:
Ashy Mining Bee
An Ashy mining bee looking for a nest on a lawn in Cheshire

24 thoughts on “The mining bee and your lawn

  1. Paul Lloyd

    Hi,

    I have miner bees, we have a large lawn and desperate to cut lawn. Not been able to cut due to wet weather.
    When is the best time to cut the lawn, it’s very long now.
    My thought was to cut lawn later in the day when the bees have gone back in the nest so they can burrow out in the morning?

    Reply
    1. Kris Lord Post author

      I would tend towards a very high cut at the end of the day … although if you are able to completely leave it alone until the bees have gone, that would be best.

      Reply
  2. Clare

    Hi Kris,
    I’ve been digging the soil in our garden in preparation for sowing grass seed (it was bare earth before) and today it is covered in mining bees – ashy I think. I was going to start watering and sowing the seed soon, but do I need to wait if I don’t want to disturb the bees? If I wait too long, I worry I’ll miss the chance to sow the lawn. I live in Romania and the spring is quite short here.
    Thanks,
    Clare

    Reply
    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Tricky one. I would leave them alone for now and just lightly sow the seed and water in and see what comes up without soil disturbance.
      If anything needs patching up, sow the lawn properly in the autumn.

      Reply
  3. Neil

    Mining bees have moved onto the lawn in vast numbers. They have put volcanoes all over the place and basically ruined the lawn. I don`t mind them but how do I get rid of their volcanoes when they move on and, I`m afraid, how do I stop them coming back?

    Reply
    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Just brush the nests flat when they have moved on. They haven’t ruined the lawn. The grass will be fine.
      Please don’t try to stop them coming back. They obviously like the soil you have so just enjoy them. They are harmless and solitary bees are under threat from habitat loss so don’t add to their problems. Thank you.

      Reply
    2. Patel

      I have un controllable mining bees in my lawn,I don’t think good for lawns I really like to get rid of them but how

      Reply
  4. Chris Chadwick

    Kris, hi. This September we have had a much larger number of Mining bees active around the edges of our lawn. In themselves they have not been a major problem. However we will have our elder daughter and her family visiting us the weekend of 20th October. Our 2 teenage grandchildren will probably be far more fascinated than concerned, but we are worried about their dog Rosa, a small Poodle / Spaniel cross, who will be just 3-years old when she comes. Rosa enjoys the area of garden where the mining bees are. A friend has warned us, if Rosa were to snap at a bee and have one in her mouth, if it then stings her, it could be very serious and possibly fatal. Is that correct? Many thanks

    Reply
    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Mining bees don’t sting so can’t harm the dog.
      The dog may harm the bees though, so just fence off the area while it is there so that it doesn’t ruin the nests and try to eat them.

      Reply
  5. Linda

    I have got the miner bees ‘ a veritable hive of industry in my grass at the back garden, also this year in the front grass and a few in a border. Anyone know why I have them this late in the season late September 2022. Linda

    Reply
  6. Penny Miles

    Hi Kris,

    Our front lawn is completely taken over by hundreds of bees, I assumed they were miner bees but they always seem to come September time, does that mean they could be a different species? We love the bees, but we have nostoc growing in the lawn, is there a safe way we can treat the nostoc without harming the bees? I don’t want to risk ruining their breeding ground even once they’ve gone, but the nostoc is pretty ugly and right by the front door.
    If we were to turn the lawn into an organic vegetable patch, would the bees come back? That was our plan before we moved in but we won’t do it if it stops them breeding there.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Yes, there are quite a few bee species which only emerge in September, so could be them.
      Improve the soil over the winter by aerating and dressing to improve the conditions for the grass. The Bacterial growth should receed in time.
      Kris

      Reply
  7. Mark

    Hello, we have a lot of beautiful Ashey Mining bees. They are very welcome in our garden.

    However our lawn is awful, not because of the bees but because it’s so full of weeds. We would therefore like to re-turf the lawn but want to do it when it will least effect the bees. Is there a safer time to do it or do we just need to observe when they stop flying and then arrange for it to be done?

    Many thanks

    Reply
    1. Kris Lord Post author

      Hi Mark,
      The safest time to do any major lawn regeneration works would be in the autumn.
      Autumn is the time to scarify your lawn
      It would also be the best time in terms of watering.
      However, most lawns do not need completely re-turfing. Just some professional treatments will often turn even the worst lawn into something much more pleasing for a fraction of the price.
      Search for your local independent lawn treatment company and have a chat with them to see how they can help.
      Thanks for reading.
      Kris

      Reply
  8. Paul

    Hi
    I have these lawn bees and at first there was just the odd few this year there’s 100+. I have a little mound of ground every 4 to 6 inch. It’s starting to make the lawn look a right mess so now they’ve gone from being a cute little bee to being a right pest.

    I don’t like the idea of spraying them because let’s face it they’re bees but I could do with them decreeing in number or just going away. Hell if I could talk them into live in a bee hive I would buy them one…

    Any ideas

    Reply
    1. Kris Lord Post author

      The only thing I can suggest is to net the area with an enviromesh before the bees are looking for nesting sites. This would keep them away from that area and encourage them to look elsewhere.
      Don’t do it when they are already there though as this would emtrap them!
      They are only there for a few weeks. If it was my lawn I would put up with them.
      Thanks for reading,
      Kris
      The Lawn Man

      Reply
    2. Ali

      I am sick of them, they have taken over the front of my lawn, and now started in the back garden, the dog is petrified of them flying everywhere, who can I get to come and get rid of them in the back garden, front I’m not bothered it’s the back when I sit out there and the dog

      Reply
      1. Kris Lord Post author

        If they are mining bees then just leave them alone and they’ll move on when they’re ready.

        Reply
  9. Ozzie Hall-Osman

    Trying to identify the mining bees in my Kent garden. The front half in orange/ginger and the back is dark/black. So don’t think it’s a Tawny?

    Reply

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