Miner or “mining” bees are among the world’s largest groups of solitary bees, and there are more than 4,500 species of mining bees worldwide. They are also known as Digger Bees, Ground Bees, Mud Bees, and Dirt Bees. They are wild bees and they live underground. They are generally black and yellow, very cute, and they do not form colonies.
These bees range from very tiny to almost 2.5cm long. The adult bees emerge from their hibernation in spring, and following mating, the female will locate a suitable nesting area. She makes egg cells individually and lays a single egg in each one, sealing it up before the next cell is made. She will also provide nectar and pollen for her larva (babies) to feed on. Most female bees will lay five eggs at a time and they each rear their own young.
Where They Live
Unlike honeybees which live in hives, female miner bees nest within the earth, tunneling underground and leaving a loose door of soil. Their nests are lined with a waterproof substance the bees produce, and this protects the individual cells within nest from bacteria.
Male Bees tend to sleep in flowers. Some of these flowers close overnight and create a little swag for the bee.
Miner bee nests are found in a wide variety of areas, from woodland to gardens to dunes on coastal areas. Some prefer sloping hillside sites while others opt for formal lawns. Their nests are not present for very long and the tunnels they dig are between 15cm to 60cm deep.
Their nests cause no damage to gardens or soil, and their presence in your back yard can be seen in the form of little earth mounds in borders, lawns, and pots. You may also see holes in bare patches of soil.
They are solitary, some will nest in loose groups and the system of tunnels they create underground can be large. They have a system similar to a commune; they are related and share resources but they look after their own needs and their own young.
These bees, like other types of bees and unlike wasps, are vegetarian, and they eat floral pollen and nectar. Some species will feed on an array of different flower types, while others will have a specific plant preference.
Unlike other types of bees they do not make honey.
What Do They Do For the Environment
Miner bees are excellent pollinators, and they are great for the environment. They only very rarely will sting (if ever) and only do so if forced to defend their eggs. The sting is not as painful as that of a honeybee, and many species have stingers too small to penetrate human skin. A human or pet is most likely to be stung by accidentally stepping on one. While honeybees leave their stinger in their victims and then die, Mining Bees keep their stinger to use again – but again, they are very reluctant to use it at all. These bees are only active for a few weeks each year.
You should never use pesticides – there is no need to! They are doing your garden a favor! Additionally, these chemical products are harmful to other backyard helpers like earthworms.
Mining Bees are great for your garden and your local environment – so live and let live! Enjoy having them in your garden!