Bees or Wasps?

Asked May 16, 2020, 6:50 PM EDT

This morning we had a swarm of bees or wasps coming out of a nest in the ground. The swarm was pretty big — you could see and hear them. The nest is in the ground under some ground cover so I cannot see it, but they are flying in and out of a particular area in the ground throughout the day (you can hear them in the ground when you get close). There are little white specks on the plants near the area. From what I have read, if these are bees, most of them will disperse in the next few weeks and we should not do anything about the nest. But if they are wasps, we should get rid of them. Please let me know if you can identify what these are (see photos). Thank you. (Sorry. If this is a duplicate message. Not sure my earlier message went through.)

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

These are bees, and likely one of our native solitary ground-nesting bee species. While they do not share a communal nest like honeybees, multiple females can nest in one area based on habitat suitability. They are often active in late spring as adults emerge, breed, and start new burrows, but will eventually disappear and are not aggressive. We recommend leaving them alone to complete their life cycles.

Some examples of ground-nesting bees:
https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/mining-bees-lawns
https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/meet-pollinator-cellophane-bee

Miri