Bees and Wasps: Danger Can Be Lurking Underground

A woman mowing her grass was killed when she mowed over an underground wasp nest. A gardener lost consciousness from multiple stings when weed pulling disturbed an underground bee nest. Another person suffered permanent scars from vicious hornet stings while cleaning up discarded lumber that hid a nest. Because they are most often seen flying through the air,Guest Posting most people don’t look down when they hear buzzing insects; but a large number of bee and wasp species build their nests underground or under debris lying Wasp nest removal on the ground.

Like the three real-life examples above taken from, Internet gardening forums are peppered with reports of bees, wasps and hornets attacking viciously from underground nests. Quite a few bee and wasp species build their nests underground and several species, taking advantage of the shelter provided by ground surface debris, build their nests under stray boards, loose slabs of rock or in wood piles. Underground bees have even been known to build nests in undisturbed compost piles.

There are several solitary species of bees and wasps, those that live singly, that nest underfoot. Mud daubers and potter wasps build their single-celled, ground-level nests in wet areas near ponds, poorly drained yards or near dripping outdoor faucets. Digger bees, digger wasps and cicada killer wasps dig single burrows several inches deep into dry or sandy ground. Mammoth 2-inch long cicada killers have a particular affinity for nesting in sand traps which can make them a problem on golf courses. Several solitary bee species, including cicada killers and halictid (sweat) bees nest in groups, locating their individual burrows close together. However, solitary bee and wasp species are relatively docile and not particularly defensive of their nests. They pose only a limited problem to humans, rarely stinging unless stepped on; but their habit of nesting near areas occupied by humans can create occasional problems for gardeners, landscape workers, golfers or barefoot children.

The real threat from underground bees, wasps and hornets (a type of wasp) comes from species that live socially in colonies that can number in the hundreds. Opportunistic insects, social bees and wasps often colonize abandoned animal burrows but will also tunnel into the ground, excavating multiple passages to house the colony and hold the queen’s eggs and developing larvae. Some ground bees such as bumble bees are fairly docile, attacking only when disturbed or threatened. Other ground-dwellers, particularly yellowjackets (a species of wasp) are highly aggressive and may attack without warning. Yellowjackets are so sensitive to noise and vibration that a running lawn