Solitary Bee Nests: Why Having Bare Ground is Good

Solitary bee nesting sites? Cat added for scale. Photo by Anne Hars.

Just as I was about to arrogantly suggest to my neighbor Anne that she mulch her garden paths, we spotted what I believe to be some sort of ground nesting bee activity. We found neat little holes scattered about the the middle of a dirt path. More appeared today.

According to Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat, 70% of solitary bees (not to be confused with honey bees) build their nests in open, dry spots of dirt. While I’m all for mulch to build soil and suppress weeds, the Xerces Society makes a good case for keeping a small part of your yard bare and thus open for native bee habitat.

In case these are the infamous Los Angeles sandworms, Anne plans on avoiding rhythmic walking in the backyard over the next few weeks.

Leave a comment


  1. I had no idea bees could make nests in bare ground! That’s pretty awesome… as is the Dune reference, nicely done.

  2. How do you know if it’s bees or something else? Ants can make holes like that too, right?

  3. Anonymous,

    Definitely not ants–could be some sort of beetle, but I”m still leaning towards the solitary bee nest. And Andrew–good question–don’t know. This area is, I’d say, moderately compacted as it is a path.

  4. cool! I figure small critters are better at getting through compaction. That’s good to know that it’s on a path since that is actually exactly what I was thinking about. =)

    • the path is brand new but the ground is mostly clay. I had dusted the path with sand so I wouldn’t track clay on my shoes until I figured how I wanted to deal with the path- material wise. I am just leaving it as is til I figure out what is using the holes. Could be june beetles, too.

Comments are closed.