Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?
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  1. #1

    Default Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    Hi Everybody,

    I hope I'm not too off-topic, apologies if I am.

    I am an involuntary bee keeper.
    I have in my back yard an underground nest of what seems to my inexperienced eyes to be ground bees, and I make sure to let them live happily without disturbing them.
    They are usually not aggressive, but I did have an incident when a guest got too close, made too much noise, and got stung.

    I recently read a little online, and there seems to be some conflict with my experience.
    The underground nest is probably huge, as there are many hundreds of them flying in and out during the day constantly.
    From what I read, ground bees tend to be more solitary, so I was starting to wonder maybe they are not really bees, but perhaps wasps?
    Attached are 2 photos of them feasting in my yard.

    Would appreciate any information from the pros on what they really are, and if there is anything I should or shouldn't do about them.

    Cheers,

    Ami
    ----------
    UPDATE:
    I am from the San Francisco Bay Area, Northern California,
    Also added 2 photos of the nest entrance.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Ami; 08-08-2019 at 06:03 PM.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Default

    Sure looks like honeybees to me. Did not know they would live underground..

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ami View Post
    .....
    Would appreciate any information from the pros on what they really are, and if there is anything I should or shouldn't do about them.

    Cheers,

    Ami
    ----------
    Looks as if a honey bee.
    If you posted your location, that would be most helpful.
    Assuming south, given the succulent plant on the pictures.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    Hi and thanks for your answers.

    I am from north California, San Francisco bay area.
    I'll update my post and add photos of the nest entrance.

    Are honey-bees known to live underground in large groups?

    Ami

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    looks like honey bees on the plant, and yellow jackets in the hole to me.
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4y..._as=subscriber

  7. #6

    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    Quote Originally Posted by ifixoldhouses View Post
    looks like honey bees on the plant, and yellow jackets in the hole to me.
    Ha... I didn't notice it till i took the close up photos...
    You are right - these are not the same ones!
    Both fly all over the place and get mixed up, and I just assumed they were one and the same.

    I guess the bees come from elsewhere...

    Thanks!

    Ami
    --------

  8. #7
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    Nacogdoches, TX, USA
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    Default

    Be careful with those yellow jackets. I’ve had bad luck with them lately...they mean

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    pics 3 and 4 look like yellow jackets
    Started April Fools Day 2017

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ami View Post
    Hi and thanks for your answers.

    I am from north California, San Francisco bay area.
    I'll update my post and add photos of the nest entrance.

    Are honey-bees known to live underground in large groups?

    Ami
    Why, sure.
    Solomon Parker found them at the minute 14:00 of this video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TCmf2Kzwmw)

    But yours are NOT honey bees.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    agree yellowjackets in the hole. you are clear to burn them out
    Terrence

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    A bucket of soapy water down that hole at night might take care of them.
    All of my opinions and suggestions are based on my five decades of actual beekeeping,
    not so much on book learning, watching YouTube videos nor reading internet sites.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    Those are definitely wasps (not the pics with the flowers - those are bees). They are much smaller and much more aggressive than a honey bee. And they can sting more than once - ask me how I know. Had an encounter with them 2 days ago when I attempted to fertilize my hydrangea and they apparently had a nest underneath it.

  14. #13
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    Default

    They are not wasp. They are a small ground hornet. And they have an underground Nest that looks exactly like a hornet's nest in a tree except Underground. They sting like the devil and can sting through a beehive suit.

  15. #14
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    Nov 2018
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    I agree with others that the last photo is a Yellow Jacket (type of wasp). After getting stung recently and chased by a group (social) of what looked like honey bees, I researched this to learn whether or not our bees had gone berserk. I can't find the best article that I read then, but the image is like yours – size, body shape, bright yellow.

    Since they will LEAVE their nest in the FALL, I chose to avoid any future days of severe, painful swelling of my limbs, ear and neck. I'm simply not weeding in the area of my yard where they are living until shortly before the cold weather. These little buggers are NASTY - the punishment for me disturbing their nest was severe for the unintended crime.

    Basics I learned from internet:
    “Yellow jackets are generally smaller than hornets and are bright yellow and black, whereas hornets may often be black and white.”

    “Many species of yellow jackets, a grouping of wasps that live in nest underground, can be distinguished by the bold pattern of black and yellow or white stripes, running down their carapace. By contrast, the great golden digger wasp, another ground-nester, has a black and orange coloration in a less-intricate fashion.

    “Watch the wasp’s behavior. Some species fly around in groups and interact. If this is the case, the species may be a communally nesting ground wasp, like a yellow jacket. These familiar wasps may nest together in the thousands, and react in coordinated aggression if someone disturbs their homes. Roughly resembling a honeybee (at least at a distance), yellow jackets remain active well into the fall, and, because some species seek out meat and decaying food at this time of year, this is when they most frequently interact with human beings. Many ground-nesting species, however, live solitary lives. The great golden digger wasp, for example, will rarely be seen massing in groups.”



  16. #15
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    The insect in pic_4 looks like a yellow jacket.

  17. #16
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    Thumbs Up Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    Quote Originally Posted by jfh00jfh View Post
    The insect in pic_4 looks like a yellow jacket.
    Yep.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    At any rate, avoid the hole in the ground!

  19. #18

    Default

    Fill a soda bottle with petrol and after dark, by the light of a red lamp (they won’t see it) jam the open bottle in the hole so that it seals the entrance and empties the petrol into the nest. The fumes will kill the nest and evaporate. You can take the bottle out in a day or too and fill the entrance hole.

  20. #19

    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    Thank everyone for you helpful advice. Looks like these are indeed yellow jackets, probably the "German" ones - Vespula germanica.
    In general, I try to live my life with an attitude of "Live and let live".
    I try to avoid killing any living being (with only one exception, mosquitoes...).
    As long as we don't have any incident with the wasps, I will just wait for them to leave in the fall.
    They are an invasive species to the USA, the adults feed on sugary carbs.
    But they are also excellent hunters of insects such as spiders and even termites, and will take any meat/fish they can find, and feed it to their larvae, by that help control pest insects.
    We are a vegan family, so they have nothing to look for in our house :-)
    See Wikipedia Page.
    Have a wonderful week!

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Are these Ground Bees or Wasps?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ami View Post
    We are a vegan family, so they have nothing to look for in our house :-)
    Wouldn't bet on that LOL

    Let me explain something about their life cycle. During the summer the wasps are hunting for protein, which they take home and feed to their larvae, in a nest that expands very fast. In return, the larvae exude a sweet substance that the adult wasp eats / drinks, this fuels it up for more work collecting food for more larvae. This behavior can actually be observed in open nesting wasp types, such as asian paper wasps.
    But in fall, the wasps stop raising worker larvae, and instead raise queen and male larvae, so that these queens can mate, and then hibernate through winter to start new nests in spring. One nest can produce hundreds or even thousands of queens. Once this queen raising has ended the nest becomes broodless, as can be see if a late fall nest is dug up. Once this happens the adult wasps cannot get their sugar and energy requirements met from larvae they feed, so they switch their attention to anything sweet they can find elsewhere. If there is a large active wasp nest near your house in fall, they will certainly come into your house if they smell anything that they recognise as containing sugar, such as jam for example.

    However the nest hole you have posted the pic of is a very small one, it is a very small nest, and may not cause any problems.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

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