Will bleach kill ground bees?

Bleach is a common household product that we normally use in cleaning and removing stains from clothes and fabric [1]. It can also come in solid or liquid form. However, bleach can also have other uses based on its chemical compositions in industrial applications to kill bacteria and other organisms. It is even considered a pesticide.

Since bleach is considered a pesticide, can it also be used to kill insects, like ground bees, on your lawn?

Though bleach can be categorized as a pesticide and can be used as a weed-killer. However, bleach is not an insecticide that kills insects, so it won’t kill ground bees unless the bees fall into a bucket filled with a bleach solution that they drown. Suppose you really need to get rid of ground bees. In that case, there are other non-chemical ways, like watering the ground, tilling the soil to destroy their tunnels, covering their tunnels with mulch, soil, or plastic, or even calling a professional.

Now, let us learn more about bleach and its effect on ground bees.

What are ground bees?

beekeeper working on beehive in his garden

Ground bees are the general term for all the bees that build their nest below the ground. It means they can dig holes in the ground where they will stay for most of their lives [2] and where the female ground bees will also lay their eggs. 

Though the social bees, like honeybees, are more commonly known, in reality, different species of ground bees comprise almost 90% of the bee species in the world. Ground bees include leafcutter bees, mason bees, mining bees, digger bees, and sweat bees.

Another important characteristic of ground bees is that they are commonly solitary bees, unlike the honeybees and bumblebees, and they don’t live with other bees inside hives. They simply prefer to be alone. 

Though they can sometimes be a nuisance in your yard, they are still an essential factor in our ecosystem because of their role as free pollinators for many foods that we eat. They are also generally peaceful and are less likely to sting you if you leave them alone. Their lifespan is also not long, so you should not be concerned about swarming.

Also read: How far do honey bees travel? and Does diatomaceous earth kill bees?

Will bleach kill ground bees?

If ever you wanted to get rid of ground bees in your yard using bleach that you got from your house, it may not be the best way to get them out of your property.

Bleach can come in a wide variety and may differ in concentration and application. It can even be categorized as a pesticide [3] and can be applied to kill weeds. Another application is in cleaning and removing dirt and bacteria. However, bleach is not an insecticide and is not used to kill insects.

Since bleach is not an insecticide, it does not kill ground bees or any other insects. The most it can do is cause the ground bees some inconveniences. Though the pesky ground bees can still be killed by the bleach solution if they fall into it and drown. But generally, ground bees are safe from bleach, whether it be solid or in a liquid state.

Why do ground bees choose your yard?

beekeeper working on a beehive next to flowers

Since ground bees are solitary bees, they will try to find locations where their chances of succeeding and survival are high, especially during the spring, when the female bees will build their nests on the ground. 

Ground bees also like areas with limited vegetation and sandy and dry soil. So if your yard satisfies the bee’s criteria for a nest, you should expect them to appear. 

You can even count how many ground bees are in your area by counting the holes in the ground. The female bees will lay eggs on individual nests, unlike honeybees, where only the queen bee will lay eggs [4].

If you want to learn more about ground bees, I’d recommend reading Does vinegar kill ground bees? and Can you kill ground bees with gasoline?

How can you get rid of ground bees?

Bees, including ground bees, are important pollinators of flowers and plants in your garden. The good thing about them is they are also less likely to sting you. Some species are also included in the endangered lists of bees that can go extinct, so we must protect them and avoid killing them if there are other means to get rid of them.

Since we already established that using bleach to kill ground bees in your yard is not the best way to go, here are some other approaches you can employ if you want ground bees to leave you alone.

1. Water the soil until it is soaked.

Ground bees prefer dry and loose soil to build their nests. So, soaking the soil with water will saturate it and force the bees to transfer to someplace else. 

You can use a sprinkler or a hose to apply water to the ground as soon as you see holes in your yard. You can also proactively apply water to the soil at the start of the spring to discourage the ground bees from burrowing in your garden [5] and prevent any potential inconveniences they can cause.

2. Till the soil to destroy their tunnels.

If the ground bees are already in your yard and you just want to force them to go away without killing them, then you can till the soil to destroy their nests. You just need to locate the nests and use a shovel to till the soil. 

You may prefer to do this during the day, so they are probably outside the nest foraging for food to avoid injuring or killing the bees [6].

3. Plant grass or plants that spreads to the ground.

Another way to prevent bees from tunneling in your yard is by planting grass and plants that can cover the soil. This will make the ground more challenging for the ground bees to burrow and build their nest. Just be careful when selecting your plant to avoid planting weeds.

4. Cover the ground with sod, mulch, or plastic film.

If you don’t want to plant grass or ground-covering plants in your yard, you can use sod, mulch, or plastic film to cover the ground. The idea is also to protect the soil so that the bees will have difficulties digging, or it can also cover their tunnels so they will have to move to a different location. 

These alternative coverings are a good temporary solution to your ground bee problems since they are relatively easy to remove and can even erode throughout the year.

5. Call a professional.

When you don’t know whether the holes are from ground bees or from wasps, so you’re afraid to do the work yourself, remember that you can always call a professional. They are trained to do the right thing in your yard, so you don’t have to. 

However, professionals can cost a little extra on the job you can do yourself. But you can ask them to relocate the bees instead of exterminating them.

Why should you avoid using insecticides?

Again, ground bees are important natural pollinators of different plants and flowers that we consume, like apples, strawberries, and more. Due to human activities, including the use of deadly insecticides, bees are starting to decline in number around the world.

So, if ever you need to get rid of ground bees, it would be best to just transfer them or force them to leave. You may even just let them be since they will probably be gone and moved out of your yard after some time.

If you’d like to learn more about bees, you should also read How far will bees chase you? and Are wasps bad for bees?


Ground bees and all the other bees are an essential part of our ecosystem. They pollinate the flowers and plants we consume for free in exchange for their nectar and pollen. However great as they may be, they can sometimes cause some disturbances in the yard, especially if there are people with bee allergies, so some may use household products like bleach to kill ground bees.

Unfortunately, though some varieties of bleach can be considered a pesticide, they are only used to kill weeds. Bleach is not an insecticide, so it can’t be used to kill ground bees. The only time it may kill bees is if the bee falls into the bleach and they drown.

There are also other ways to get rid of bees without resorting to killing them. You may try watering the ground to soften it or till the soil with a shovel to destroy their tunnels. You may even cover the ground or their tunnels with various materials to force them to move to another place.


[1] – Bleach. (2022, September 22). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleach

[2] – Bee. (2022, August 25). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee

[3] – Pesticide horrors from the CA Deptartment of Pesticide Regulation. ANR Blogs. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=25540

[4] – Should I be concerned about ground nesting bees in my yard?. Ask UNH Extension Master Gardeners Extension. (2019, May 15). Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://extension.unh.edu/blog/2019/05/should-i-be-concerned-about-ground-nesting-bees-my-yard

[5] – Pugliese, P. (2019, July 9). Most ground-nesting bees and wasps are good bugs. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://newswire.caes.uga.edu/story/8031/ground-bees.html

[6] – https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/CAES/DOCUMENTS/Publications/Fact_Sheets/Entomology/GroundNestingBeespdf.pdf?la=en