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Over many years miner bee populations can become vast, numbering in their thousands. Seasonal swarming bees can look menacing, but rarely cause injury to humans and pets.
Are Mining Bees Protected By Law?
NO! - Mining Bees Are Not Protected, but in our opinion, Bee control and removal of bees nests and colonies should require accreditation.
What Are Mining Bees?
In the UK we have many different species of mining bee, but the Tawny Mining Bee (Andrena fulva) is probably one of the most common and visually distinctive because of their fox-red colouration.
Mining bees don't have queens or workers to build, maintain and defend the nest. The bees brood or larvae are tended only by the female bee.
The Mining Bees Life Cycle
Although each species will have slightly different traits, the life cycle of these bees follows a broadly similar process as described below.
Mining bees appear from April until June. In early spring males emerge first in search of female bees, swarming in zig-zags over suitable nesting sites in search of a mate. The males can mate multiple times before dying shortly afterwards, and the females mate just once.
Female mining bees will excavate up to three shafts containing up to five side tubes or nesting chambers. Female bees prevent the walls of the chambers from collapsing by secreting terpenoid secretions that waterproof and stabilise walls.
From above ground, the nest entrances resemble tiny extinct volcanos with granular mounds 20mm high and a deep crater or shaft at the centre where the female often stands guard with just her head protruding.
Each shaft is the packed with pollen and nectar before she lays an egg into each. The eggs hatch with days and the larvae begin a year-long process of development, pupation and metamorphosis. They emerge the following spring or in especially warm years, can sometimes appear later in the same year.
How Many Mining Bees Do I Have?
Although mining bees do not live in colonies, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine this is the case when your lawn has hundreds or thousands flying and crawling all over it.
What's happening can be a result of decades of generations of these bees using the same area of suitable soil, year after year, resulting in huge populations.
Can Mining Bees sting?
Yes - female mining bees are equipped with a sting, and although rare, many customers have reported that they or their children have been stung by these bees. The sting is said to register as a 1.0 on the Schmit Pain Index, but this likely depend on the species and the size of the insect.
The frantic swarming behaviour of these bees during mating can be very alarming, especially for those with young children, pets or those with sting allergies.
We all react differently to stings, and some people can die from a single insect sting. This condition is called Anaphylactic Shock.
The swarming tends to last no more than a week, and after six weeks, almost all visible activity will become concealed within the brood cells or chambers underground.