Relocating ground bees?
There is an active bee nest in the ground very near a hose bibb. Although the bees have not been aggressive, we'd like to encourage them to find a new home so that we don't inadvertently antagonize them. If we leave them alone now, are they likely to find a new home next spring? If not, what can we do to get them to move? We don't want to kill them. These are neither wasps nor bumble bees. If you need more identification, what features should we look for?
Washington County Oregon
Hi and thanks for contacting Ask an Expert. I really cannot answer your questions until I see a picture or have a better description of the insect. How many bees are there? Most ground bee nests will die out in late fall or early winter. This year's original queen will start laying ‘queen’ eggs for the next season - should already have started. Those queens hatch, mate and find a place to hibernate for the winter. They can go back to the same location but usually find another place.
I have never heard of relocating a ground nest, however, there are some people that do remove them. They are in the business of extracting venom from the insects though and would vacuum them out.
If you can describe them, include color(s) or get a picture of one, I can be more specific. Also look up yellow jackets, see a picture of them. They don't have the thin waist of a wasp and look like some bees. If these are yellow jackets they are easily antagonized and can and will sting continually.
This winter after the first freeze, you can close off the site so you will not have the same problem next spring. These nests can be quite deep, so use a shovel to open it up and then fill it in and pack it down. You might want to put stones or outdoor tiles around the area to block any further use.
Let me know if they are yellow jackets or please give me a more detailed description/pix. That will help immensely so I can give you more information.
Thanks for the informative reply. They are not yellow jackets; those I can recognize, I'll see about getting a suitable picture. We may just close off the site after the first freeze.
Leaving an open unplanted area for ground bees is always beneficial to the pollinator population but it doesn't have to be near your activity sites. We appreciate your interest in keeping pollinators safe.