Solitary Bees in Burke County

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Not all bees live in hives like honeybees. In fact , of all the bee species, over 90% are solitary bees. Female solitary bees prepare their own nest in the ground, in cracks or crevices in walls, or in wood. They gather nectar and pollen as food for their own offspring, and provide little or no further care after their eggs are laid.

Solitary bees come in many different sizes, colors and shapes. Common solitary bees are mason bees, plasterer bees, digger bees, sweat bees, cicada killers and carpenter bees. They vary in color from basic black to bright metallic green, blue or red. Some solitary bees can look similar to wasps or hornets which can cause great concern to the homeowner who walks out in to his yard and is surrounded by these “busy bees” as they dig burrows and collect pollen.

Although most live alone, some solitary bees build nests in a sort of neighborhood setting. They each have their own burrow in the ground but they live in close proximity to each other. Solitary bees may nest close together because the site is particularly desirable but each female builds its own nest. They prefer bare spots or sparsely grassed areas that have good drainage and receive morning sun.

Here in Burke County we see several different solitary bees. They aren’t aggressive even though they look mean. Females can sting but only when confined. Chemical control is not successful because the bees don’t live together in a hive or nest. In Burke County we start seeing solitary bees in mid-summer. Three to four weeks after they are first noticed, they’ll be gone. It’s best to just put up with them while they’re here and remember that they are valuable pollinators.

holes and small dirt mounds in lawn caused by lawn bees

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cicada killer wasp in palm of a hand

Cicada Killer

mason bee

Mason Bee