This past Tuesday afternoon, after receiving a concerned call from a very nice woman from Medway I drove to her house to take a look at the “bee issue” that she was having in the yard.
When I got to her house, I found her and he two young children in the yard playing. It was earlier in the afternoon so when I asked her where the issue was, she could only show me little mounts of dirt with a white powder on top that looked like someone sprinkled powder on a small ant hill. We joke about how this visit was like going to the doctor’s – as soon as you make the appointment the pain goes away.
When I first arrived at the house I noticed, what looked like birdhouses, along the fence line set at about 20-foot intervals along the perimeter. After looking a little closer and asking our potential new customer about the contraptions – she said that there were “bee traps” that her and her husband set up to rid their yard of the bees. I took a look at the traps and at first the bees that the traps caught looked a little like honey bees but I could not really tell because they were curled up and very dried out on the traps.
It was about this time when the “problem bees” returned to the yard. They were low flyers. They looked to be circling the little mounds that had the powder on them. I stood and watched for a while and noticed that they did not really seem interested in me or how close I got to them. The landed, flew low circles on the lawn and basically just continued this pattern – buzzing the powdered covered mounds but not landing. After observing their behavior for a little longer I went back over the traps to take another look. The bees were not quite as “yellow” as a honey or bubble would be – they were duller – almost of grayish brown over yellow. After consulting with a trusted identification guide – just to be sure – I let the potential client know that these are Miner Bees.
“Miner bees, also known as chimney bees, are smaller than a honey bee, with a stout, furry body. They are often mistaken for bumble bees, also being black and yellow summertime bees. They are friendly, non-aggressive and typically do not sting or bite.” Kelly Rourke, Pollinator Partnership
I recommended to the client that they should treat the mounds with water, either soak the mounds individually or set up a sprinkler in the center of where the mounds currently are and move it around to ensure that this area does not remain so dry. The Miner Bees do not like water and most likely not lay eggs in moist soil. I recommended to her that they stop using poison on their lawn to ensure that there is no chance that the kids can get into it and to protect the well-being of these pollinators.