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Hello Everyone, My first Thread here. I have a really nice underground (mining) honey bee nest in my garden that I've been very fortunate to have. I had 4 or 5 to start with, but unknowingly drowned them out (while heavily watering my garden) before I realized they were honey bee holes. I've never had them before this year. Unfortunately 4 of the 5 hives left, but fortunately one stuck around. I took some videos and snipped out some images from the videos. I was really hoping that someone could help me identify the species, so I know how to care for them, keep them safe and/or just not harm them.

Honey bee garden june26-01.JPG

Honey bee garden june26-02.JPG

Honey bee garden june26-03.JPG

Honey bee garden june26-04-digging hole maybe.JPG
 

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Honey bee garden june26-12.JPG

Honey bee garden june26-13.JPG

Sorry there's so many pictures and that they're so blurry. I have a Nikon camera, but it takes terrible video and pictures when capturing anything up close and/or when using the zoom. I tried really hard to get decent, clear pictures, but failed. These pictures were all taken after watering the garden. they love it when I water... and today it appeared that they were trying to dig more holes/nests. I don't know if it's important, but their nests don't have hills at the top. They're flat on the ground. they're usually in cracks in the soil from the soil drying out. They go in about 2-3" deep and then go off to the side (not straight down).

I started using "Sonic Bloom" this year and it has really attracted a lot of bees and birds. Unfortunately I had to get rid of a couple carpenter bee nests, because they were destroying our new fence. I really would have loved to have them around. Have read that a couple hundred carpenter bees (or other solitary bees) can pollinate as many flowers as 10s of thousands of honey bees. I don't think the mining bee colony that I have is any type of solitary bee, because there appears to be at-least a dozen bees in the next.

Thanks in advance for any info/suggestions. I've never kept bees before and have never cared for any wild or tamed bees before, so any info/advice is welcome. I tried to feed them wildflower honey (not raw) today, but they didn't want anything to do with it. Someone said "DO NOT" feed them sugar unless it's an emergency, so I took their advice and used honey. I would like to get them some pollen, but I'm not sure how to collect it or if I can buy natural pollen or not.
 

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You need to get a macro lens I can't even tell they are bees. A picture is worth a thousand words, But a bad picture has no real value. The bees will gather what they need It is what they do.
 

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They are a pollinator not a honey bee just so you know. They don't build a large colony like honey bees do. They are actually called Andrena use google and you'll find a lot of interesting information about them
 

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I have seen the same thing honey bees for sure they had tunnels down on it the muddy ground I figured there was some sort of mineral down there
 

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They are a pollinator not a honey bee just so you know. They don't build a large colony like honey bees do. They are actually called Andrena use google and you'll find a lot of interesting information about them
I looked up the pictures of "Andrena" species of bees. I don't think they're Andrena, because just about every Andrena bee I have seen has full size wings that are the full length of the body. The ones I have have much smaller wings, more similar to honey bees. I'm certainly not a bee expert, so I'll definitely take your advice seriously and will look into it more. I love bees, so I won't mind taking the time to look them up.

I know the pictures are terrible. I got a Nikon camera thinking that I could take clear pictures of anything. I didn't think I'd need a macro lens at all. Will have to get one though.

I have seen underground honey bees before. Just yesterday I watched a youtube video of a professional beekeeper that dug up an underground honey bee hive, collected the honey and took the queen. It was a large nest with a very large comb. I don't know for sure that mine are 100% honey bees, but it's not a very small hive like I would expect a lot of other species (and some solitary species) to build. When I watered the garden about 2 hours ago I had to water were my carrots (and the nest are) and there were about 40 bees that came out of the nest to drink. I'm not sure how large the entire hive is though.

Do Andrena species of bees have nests of 40 or more?

To be honest. It's not important for them to be "honey bees". I love honey bees, but they're definitely not the best pollinators. I really wish I could have kept the carpenter bees in my garden. Them things are pollinating beasts!! I built a small carpenter bee "condo", but I think it's too late for them to relocate to it. From what I understand, they're only around in spring and are usually gone by this time. I saw one in a nest in our patio, that we also have to remove (which sucks), so hopefully we can get them to move to the condo, so we don't have to kill them.

I'll try to get a macro lens and will post new pictures if possible.

I definitely appreciate the info (from everyone). Like I said before, any and all suggestions are welcome.
 

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Andrena is the genus there are quite a few different species of Andrena it can be very difficult to identify the specific species. A clearer picture will help identify the species for you. They do not fall into the genus that honey bees do therefore not a honey bee.
 

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You might want to check out the book "The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America's Bees" by Joseph S. Wilson & Olivia J. Messinger Carril

It won't tell you your specific species, but will guide you to what the most likely genus is

Honeybees might nest in a hole in the ground (not a preferred nesting site), but they do not "mine".

"Solitary" bees is often used but a slight misnomer. Most bees not in the genus "Apis", except for bumblebees, are considered 'solitary', but many of them either like to nest in groups or (I've read), in some cases of mining bees share a common tunnel entrance, but are considered 'solitary' in that each female gathers pollen and makes a 'bee bread' for each of her eggs, and generally wall them off from the next egg. They don't work 'together'.

Solitary (or pollen bees or pollinator bees) are often great 'individual' pollinators (often because they are far more interested in pollen than nectar - so they even land on the flower differently). So an individual bee may pollinate more, you can't really compare the power of pollination by thousands or tens of thousands of honey bees to a small nests of solitary bees. Also solitary bees will not travel nearly as far as honey bees.

They will also only be 'out' as adult bees for a limited season. When they've filled their nests they tend to die off until the next year. Then the eggs will come gestate and be bees next year (some of this varies depending on the species of bee).

Enjoy your bees!
 

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One of the ways to narrow down the species is the time of year they're seen different times for different species. None the less they are still difficult to identify the exact species.
 

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In the Spring,there were swarms of mining bees in the clay banks next to my wet weather pond.The bees were about 2/3 the size of honey bees and black.They were emerging from small holes in the clay banks and above the banks there were small groups of mining bees about 6"-12" off the ground flying in a zig zag pattern.It was interesting to watch them,but hard to take a picture because they were in constant erratic motion. :)

Some links that I bookmarked :

http://www.sharpeatmanguides.com/#!andrena-mining-bees/cycb

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" There are about 400 species of Andrena bees in North America alone, hundreds more worldwide. They are abundant in spring, with many species foraging for food on a single plant species, or a few closely related species of plants. "

https://the-natural-web.org/2014/04/06/signs-of-spring-mining-bees/
 

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(Wish I could add a comment without replying to a specific person. That possible?)

I appreciate all the info. Am still working on identifying them. Ordered a macro lens for my camera that should be here soon. I hope id don't suck. Was only $3.00 on ebay, but I can't afford to send $200-$400 on a macro lens.

I'm not sure if these are clues, but here's what little info I have on them...

They started appearing right after I planted part of my garden around labor day. They're the full size of a European Honey bee and look nearly identical. They have the shorter (squarish) wings with only a bit of a point. Their wings are separated like many bee species with a larger upper wing and a smaller, thinner pointier wing that combines with the upper wing to look like one larger wing.

In my ignorance, I pulled one of them off a radish plant that was clamped to one of the seed pods (thinking it was dead). I sprayed some of my plants with neem oil to kill flea beetles and then for 2-3 days all the bees disappeared, so I thought I killed them with the neem oil. Them 2-3 days were a little cooler/colder than usual, but they came back when it got warmer again, so they apparently prefer the hot days.... Anyways, I thought the bee was dead. I touched it several times and it didn't move. I pulled it off and put it in a container to take pictures of it with my microscope camera, but it started moving again (slow and "retarded" looking, falling all over the place). I then took it back outside and it clamped right back onto the radish seed pod and went back to sleep (didn't know they slept, so was confused before).

This species definitely has a stinger. He got irritated when I tried to pull him off a second time, because he was upside-down (not that it mattered) and his stinger came out really far and with great flexibility.

Also, The bees from the original nest appear to be digging new holes fairly close to the original nest (not sure if all ground dwelling species do that). I could be wrong about that, but I have video that shows 2-3 of them at times going into cracks in the ground and digging or making a hole in the middle of the crack. Unfortunately, if that's what they're doing, they haven't succeeded much. Is there any way I can help them? (lightly watering often, not watering at all, starting small holes through the tougher sun-hardened soil, adding more soft/organic material, etc...?


I was just reading elsewhere today that European Honey Bees do build nests under-ground, but that it's not ideal for them. (I don't know if that is true or not, but I wish I saved the link to post on here).

Also, will they eat pollen? (I ordered a 1oz packet of wildflower pollen for them, but now am reading that some people say not to feed them, because it can bring on swarming, predators, wasps and other bad things. I just want to leave them tiny amounts here and there to help them.)

After this though (besides maybe a little pollen here and there) I'm going to try to leave them alone, at-least until I'm less ignorant. I just know mankind, in our ignorance cause a lot of damage to nature while trying to help it and/or control it... A good example would be Yellowstone and how we increased the elk population only to cause it to completely crash and then caused the endangerment and extinction of many other species of other animals/plants.)

Thanks again everyone.
 

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(Forgot to add... Sorry if I don't reply very often and that my posts are really long when I do. I have damage to both of my shoulders and RSD in my right shoulder/arm, so I can't type very often. I try to add as much information as possible whenever I get a chance to reply, because I never know how long it's going to be before I can reply again. I have been keeping up on it whenever I get a chance though, so I'll definitely get your replies/comments when you leave them.)
 
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