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

6 thoughts on “The mining bee and your lawn

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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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