DIGGER BEE OVERVIEW
Every spring and throughout the summer months, different species of bees will emerge from lawns and turf. These bees have been in the ground all winter developing in the third stage of being an insect called the pupa. As the soil warms, pupa hatch. And with the hatching of pupae come adult bees.
One of the most common is the Andrena digger bee.
These bees come in all sizes and colors. Some are black, blue, brown, white and orange, yellow, and probably mixes of any listed above. Digger bees tend to look more like common bumble bees, but can look like a yellow jacket, a honey bee or certain types of flies. Most all of these species have common behavior which make them easy to control and understand.
DIGGER BEE FACTS
1) Nearly all are solitary. Although it appears you have thousands of “nests” in the yard, in fact they are all independent nests owned by different bees.
2) Most like to fly around their “airspace” at different times of the day or season. This may have something to do with mating, air temperature or simply staking territory.
3) Most are not too aggressive, but stay clear of them. One never knows if they may be allergic to a certain sting or venom. Don’t let children or pets play around nest sites.
4) The first year these pests start to nest in a yard, they usually go unnoticed. It is easy to miss a few holes. Every year this will grow exponentially. Within 3-5 years, expect to have several thousand!
5) Although nests may be under pine straw or wood chips, most species prefer to dig on bare ground between grass and plants. Holes are easy to mistake for worm castings.
6) Most are predatory feeders foraging for grubs, small flying insects and ground dwelling pests. It is not uncommon for nest sites to be established in a yard which has little food supply. Because they can fly, food can be found in adjoining property. Nest locations may only be taking advantage of the free place to live without offering any help in controlling your pests! Once food is found, it is stung to death, brought back to the nest and buried. Eggs will be laid on it, in it or close to it so that hatching larva will have a ready food supply.
7) Some are pollen or other organic food feeders; not all are predatory.
8) Most nest sites tend to be where sunlight, moisture and soil density meet some requirement they like. Once a nest site is started, expect it to expand each year and become larger and larger. Although nests are abandoned each year, they are not reused. New nests will be made adjacent to old nests and most old nests fill in over the winter.
9) Expect populations to vary from year to year, based on things such as the severity of the past winter, local insect levels, rain patterns, humidity and temperature.
Here’s what can happen if you don’t take a pro-active stance and start treating. This front yard took a few years to get to this stage but its amazing how one nest can become hundreds!
PROBLEMS WITH DIGGER BEES
1) Most people fear their presence. Although they usually will leave you alone if you don’t bother them, nests pose a hazard when built in play areas of the yard.
2) Infestations will start small and rapidly grow. If you have a nest or two, expect to have several more in the next year. This will quickly grow out of control if left alone to develop.
3) Nest sights will become unsightly. It is not uncommon for thousands of holes to be created within a few thousand square feet.
4) Large nest sites are scary when the species nesting goes into their hovering activity. During these times, you will expect to have thousands of them flying low to the ground, around 1-3 feet high, simply flying in circles. Be sure to keep children and pets away during this activity.
5) In every case, small infestations will eventually get too large and move into areas of the yard where you don’t want them. Be sure to prevent this by taking care of initial infestations before they grow.
FIRST DUST ANY HOLES YOU SEE
The first step is to dust any hole you see. This takes about 2-3 seconds per hole and then once dusted, cover it with a twig, pebble or dirt.
The best dust for the job is DEMISE. It will readily absorb all the pheromones and scent in the ground as well as kill all stages in the hole. This is important for both long term control and immediate results..
Use a good HAND DUSTER to apply the dust. And treat at night, close to dark, when the bees will be inside their nests.
Since most nests have eggs and pupa which are still developing, having the dust in the nest for extended periods of time insures there is something around to knock out young that will hatch throughout the season. And by capping off the top entry hole after the hole is treated will help the dust last longer.
Once treated, most nests will die off and show no activity within one day. However, it is common to have new holes “pop” up from nowhere within a week which will need immediate attention. Furthermore, if the nests treated have a lot of eggs and pupa developing, you will assuredly get some new nests at some point in the future so be prepared to treat in the coming weeks.
HOW TO TREAT HIDDEN DIGGER BEE NESTS
Once the holes have been dusted,, broadcasting PROTHOR over the yard will help by controlling any developing grubs.
Prothor uses a unique “non repellent” active so the insects won’t know its present. Prothor is labeled for use on turf grass for a range of insects including grubs so for long term control, Prothor is well suited to keep your yard pest free. It will not only kill the active insects digging and nesting but will remain active for 1-2 months. Be sure to renew applications until all activity ends.
Using a good HOSE END SPRAYER, you’ll need to add 5 oz of Prothor to the sprayer and then add water filling it to the 5 gallon line. Next, hook it to your garden hose and spray the entire amount over 3,000 sq/ft of turf.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds) shows how to set up our Green Topped Hose End sprayer to spray 2.5 oz of Prothor. For Digger Bees, you’ll want to add 3 oz of Prothor AND you’ll want to spray it over 3,000 sq/ft. And instead of using the Green Topped Sprayer, you’ll want to get the Yellow Topped Sprayer seen below.
Its important to understand Prothor will not kill quickly. In fact it will take 2-4 days for the bees to start dying. And in most cases, new bees emerging from the ground will be replacing bees that are dying at a pace that is about equal. This leads to the “perception” that nothing is changing. In fact you’re on the road to ending the issue; the affected bees are dying and as long as retreat within 3 days of the first treatment, you’ll be killing the newly emerging bees.
The following video is about 1 and half minutes along. Give it a watch as it explains why its imperative to treat every 3 days until there is no activity.
As the video above mentions, new bees will be coming to your yard as well due to the special bee “pheromones” so again, do not expect instant results. THE PROCESS WILL INVOLVE TREATMENTS EVERY 3 DAYS UNTIL THERE IS NO ACTIVITY!
For some property owners, this will mean treating 2-3 times. But for others? It could mean 3-4 weeks of treatments!
In the end, the Prothor will kill all the bees coming from your yard AND prevent new bee nests. BUT YOU MUST STICK TO THIS TREATMENT SCHEDULE TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL!!