Miner bees are intriguing as they do not live in hives with other bees, but rather prefer the solitary life of nesting underground – but should you be scared of them, and do miner bees sting?
Miner bees do sting but it doesn’t hurt like other insect stings due to the small size of their tiny stingers. These are not aggressive bees, so it is unlikely that you will be attacked and viciously stung by one. These bees keep to themselves, preferring to live a solitary life underground in nests and tunnels rather than in aboveground hives.
Want to learn more about Miner bees? Keep reading!
If you are wondering about whether Miner bees sting, they do, but there is no need to worry- their stinger is small and often does not penetrate the skin. They are not aggressive bees, they do not swarm, and they are more likely to avoid you than sting you.
These bees are hard workers, often called digger bees, for the network of tunnels and nests that they build during their productive, albeit short life. Mining bees usually live between two and six weeks.
There are an estimated 20,000 different species of bees in the world and around 70% live underground, like the Miner bees.
There are approximately 450 species of Miner bees in the US and Canada, alone! Bees that live underground as opposed to in hives are usually more solitary and less social. Mining bees are quite independent, and though they work with other bees to construct their network of tunnels, they do not make honey. Honey making is very social work that requires that bees communicate with one another.
Miner bees are busy little workers. They do not have the support of a colony in a hive to help raise the young and forage for food- the bee must do it for themselves and for their offspring. If you see these bees out and about, they are likely on a mission and mean you no harm.
Let them go safely on their way. Remember, Miner bees do not make or stockpile honey so they do not attract the predatory wildlife that other bees do, like bears, skunks, raccoons-anything seeking to steal the bees’ honey.
The best way to determine if a bee is a Miner bee is to observe where it lives and if it seems to be going underground.
Since there are so many different kinds of Miner bees, they all look quite different. Some are shiny while others are hairy; some species are short, and others are long. Keep an eye out for tiny mounds in the soil, garden, or lawn that could pass for a big anthill or worm casting.
This is a good indicator that Miner bees are nested nearby. Mining bees come out in the spring, and they are known for the buzzing sound that they make- another clue to their presence.
Miner Bee Benefits
Miner bees are like other bee species in that they are good for the environment. While they do not make honey as other bees do, they do play a vital role in the food chain and circle of life.
Miner bees are great diggers, so when they nest and tunnel, they aerate the soil. This helps plants grow and get watered more effectively, while also helping nutrients nourish and reach the roots of your crops.
Miner bees help to keep the soil fertile, so plants thrive and prosper. Through their tunnelling and digging, they are helping the plants and crops get what they need to thrive more easily. These bees are like tiny gardeners!
Miner bees pollinate important food supplies and are one of the main pollinators of wild blueberries plants. Miner bees are also noted for pollinating early-blooming crops, like apples.
Since Miner bees are a polyectic bee species, meaning they can gather and feed on lots of different plant nectar, they are less vulnerable should something impact the flower, plant, or crop that they inherently feed on and forage from.
Protect Miner Bees
The Miner bees are somewhat susceptible to the elements in their underground nests. Aggressive farming practices can wipe out these tiny pollinators and the tunnels and nests of many more. Ploughing, disking, and tiling all risk destroying the bee nests- destroying the next generation, as well.
Some Miner bees will seek out property to dig that is protected by a tree or shrubbery of some kind- be aware when working and landscaping near these features to protect any Miner bee nests.
Also, bees need flowers for food. Provide these polyectic pollinators with lots of nectar-rich flowers to feast on, from poppies to mint to Marigolds.
Offer Miner bees with an easy, safe, and convenient water source. If there is not a body of water nearby, provide a makeshift source with a birdbath, a bucket, or a tub of water with a bit of sugar or salt to attract bees to it. Plus, this conserves the bees’ strength and energy for foraging, since they won’t have to travel far to bring water to their brood.
One of the most important things that you can do to protect Miner bees is to maintain a pesticide and herbicide-free greenspace. These toxins kill not just the bee- but often the entire hive and colony. These chemicals kill vital plants that bees rely on to survive, too. Go with a natural, organic yard and garden if you want to give your Miner bees- or any species of bee- the best habitat possible.
Be nice to all bees, including Miner bees. If you do by chance get stung by a Miner bee, you may not even realize it as the sting is very mild and often does not pierce the skin. These bees are docile little diggers that mean you no harm- and that are an integral part of the food chain.