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Digger Bees

How to get rid of

Q: I have a friend whose backyard shed is as large as a garage and the floor is dirt. They have digger bees everywhere.

How do you kill digger bees without using something so toxic that you can't use the shed for a long period of time? Is there a natural way to kill them?

A: Digger bees are solitary, rearing their young in individual tunnels that the females dig. They are not very aggressive and tend not to sting unless handled or trapped (like inside your shirt!) Even then, their sting is generally milder than a honeybee's.

Males do not sting at all. They tend to cruise the area waiting for mating opportunities while the females do the tunneling. At night, the males often rest in nearby shrubbery.

Usually, digger bees are not a problem unless their nesting goes rampant. You may start with a few nests, but this can balloon to hundreds.

One "natural" way of trying to kill these bees would be to pour boiling water into their holes. This is best done at night while the females are in their nests.

If you have a lot of nests, this could make for a long evening. Be prepared to run if any female decides to retaliate.

Another natural way might be to change the characteristic of the area they're nesting in. They like certain conditions, so if you make the conditions unfavorable, they'll head for greener pastures.

Digger bees like to burrow in bare ground, so maybe mulching the area, or covering it up with gravel, might discourage them.

You can also use some special products for bee control, such as cyfluthrin granules. Be sure to follow the label of whatever product you try for maximum effectiveness.

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Tom Mugridge
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