Sorry to ask in here but the bees that are solitary and live in holes
in the ground are they bumble bees rather than honey bees
( and are there larvae big orangey/yellow things sure I dug one up
a couple of years ago ? Seen one today 'looking' in the slabs for
a suitable hole for a nest (at least that is what I assume it was doing).
To add SOME relevance to this group, 'slab' it was looking in had been
a side of a coal bunker that was doing service as a paving slab, bunker
had been dismantled as it was an eyesore and the various parts were
skipped or used as paving slabs, was quite amusing watching me trying
to break up the pieces of bunker with an 8lb mash and a reciprocating
saw to deal with the rebar.
Yours S. addy not usable (not that you would try it) ( )
Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant! / \
Honey bees (apis mellifera) live in large colonies (1000 - 10,000),
bumble bees live in groups, their "nests" look like a cluster of yellow
grapes. Bees that live in the ground are probably "solitary bees", they
tend not to sting, they also like to plug every hole, wherever it is,
Well, they do inside. The yellow 'grapes' are individual wax cups. They are
always surrounded by a shell of moss, grass, leaves, straw or the like. The
can look, from the outside, like a small bird's nest. To see the cells you
have to destroy the nest, which is a shame.
Some bumble bees excavate earth and make nests underground. I was once
called to a house where bumble bees had excavated under a slab of stone. The
nest was almost a yard underground. I don't think such a depth is common.
Solitary bees cannot ever sting, they don't have the equipment. They don't
need to either because they have no common brood to defend.
Only the ones which excavate holes in earth. Those which excavate walls use
mud, leaf cutter bees plug their holes (usually in trees although they will
utilise clusters of tubes) with pieces of leaves, especially cut from roses
but not exclusively.
The holes are plugged when the bee has finished laying in the hole and
provided each egg with a food supply of pollen. The plug will remain until
the first adult insect matures and emerges (the last to be laid!).
Peas growing on the patio (near nesting block) and a poor fuscia (other end
of garden) looked like swiss cheese plants last year... Have loads of
photos of the bees in action, completely fascinating.
When do they emerge, Mary? We're watching our "bee hotel" in keen
anticipation... (block of iroko with about 50 6" holes of varying sizes
drilled in it, and a handful of garden canes in the "eves". 50% of holes
email me at
richard at olifant d-ot co do-t uk
I've always suspected as much, thanks for the confirmation.
Yes, which is a pity, as they keep filling in my front door keyhole.
They also fill in the screw holes underneath wooden patio furniture, so
you get invaded by loads of bees. When they have hatched, fill the holes
in with a bit of dowel.
Hey, back on topic!
They're not honey bees.
I've never seen the larvae of solitary bees so can's help you there - but
they wouldn't be very big. There are very many insects living in the soil,
they all go through a larval stage, what you dug up could have been
Bumble bees aren't solitary, they're classes as 'semi social' because they
do live in small colonies, up to about 200 in one nest.
Oddly, though, solitary bees tend to live in groups because they are
exploiting the ideal habitat for their (solitary) nest making. Sometimes
there will be just one hole with several tunnels leading off it with
solitary nests excavated by several solitary bees.
Solitary bees don't have stings so please don't be frightened of them and do
try to preserve their habitat if you can.
Bumble bees do have stings but if you're stung by one you've provoked it so
much that you deserve it! Their habitats are important too.
You might care to go to:
where there are some rather good photographs. And an invitation to take
part in "The National Bumblebee Nest Survey" - which we are going to do
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