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All About Sweat Bees

Need to get rid of bees? Read on to learn the answers to all of your important questions. Need help? Call our professionals today to get started.

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What Are Sweat Bees? How Are They Different From Other Bees?

Sweat bees, or halictid bees (sometimes called furrow bees, nomiine bees or shortface bees), come in many different species (there are over 500). All sweat bees are small and not aggressive. Sweat bees are aptly named for their attraction to perspiration. Sweat bees are found all over the United States, though there is a higher concentration of sweat bees found in more eastern regions. Sweat bees nest in soil and old woods.

The halictid family of bees include some important pollinators. Just like other species of bee are attracted to flowers, helping to pollinate them, so too are sweat bees, making them an important part of the ecosystem. While they primarily feed on pollen and nectar, they are attracted to, and actually eat, sweat. Sweat bees need to supplement their diet with salt and moisture which is what they get from human sweat. 

What Do Sweat Bees Look Like?

Sweat bees are small, coming in at around 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch in length. They can come in a variety of colors, but most are typically black or brown in color, though some can be very brightly colored appearing as metallic greens and metallic blues. They can have bands much like honeybees, however their bands can vary in color from green to yellow to red. Compared to other species of bees, sweat bees all have short tongues. 

Do Sweat Bees Sting?

While sweat bees are annoying for their persistence to be around you as you are perspiring, they do not generally sting (though they can) and won’t generally do any harm to humans. The sting from a sweat bee is very mild as opposed to the sting from a wasp or honey bee. 

How Do You Repel Sweat Bees?

As major pollinators, sweat bees are highly attracted to garden plants and flowers. While it’s tempting to kill sweat bees that are in your garden, their benefits to the ecosystem and to the health of your garden and plants outweigh any risks of being stung (unless you have a severe allergy). 

Your best option is to encourage sweat bees to move to another garden by creating a landscape that is inhospitable to sweat bees. Since they prefer to burrow in bare earth, eliminate any bald patches in your yard and garden. Add mulch under shrubs and in between garden rows. Landscape fabric is a good way to deter them from burrowing in your ground. Filling any bare or bald patches of earth with baby’s breath or clover works in a similar manner to keep sweat bees from burrowing in your garden.

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The creator of this review received compensation by RMICPA, LLC on behalf of Terminix®. This review is the opinion of its creator and its claims are not endorsed or evaluated by RMICPA, LLC.

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