Over the last few years, I’ve been finding dead bees on the ground in my backyard. They can be found on the patio, lawn, and outside the house in the garden area. It’s intrigued me enough to research the reasons why there are dead bees outside my house and in the backyard, and here’s all I found – it’s fascinating!
Worker bees only live 2 to 6 weeks in summer and die off in large numbers during the lifespan of a nest. You will find lots of dead bees in your backyard if there’s a nest close by. Bees in vibrant gardens will also be at risk of predators and even pesticide poisoning.
That’s the very short answer, but there’s a lot more to it which could just be the reason why you keep finding dead bees in your yard.
On the rest of the page, I will explain whether you should remove dead bees from your backyard, patio, or garden, and whether dead bees are can be dangerous.
Why do I keep finding dead bumblebees in my garden?
During the lifecycle of a bees’ nest, many bees and come and (literally) go. Most bees that you see in your backyard will be worker bees. These are the small bees that collect nectar and pollen to bring back to the hive.
There can be anything between 20,000 to 80,000 bees Iiving together in a colony. The population will be made of up a Queen Bee, a few hundred male drones, and then thousands of female worker bees.
And it’s these female workers which will make up most of the dead bees in your garden. And there’s good reason why… they have a very short lifespan compared to the other bees in the colony – data from BuzzAboutBees.net.
- Worker bee lifespan: If born in spring and summer is 2 to 6 weeks. Those born in autumn can live for 20 weeks.
- Drone bee lifespan: Can live between 30 and 55 days.
- Queen bee lifespan: Will live for between 1 and 2 years, but some are known to live as long as 5 years.
Why do bees keep dying my yard?
Now we know the lifespans of bees, we can apply that to some of their habits which will help to explain why you keep finding dead bees in your backyard.
1. Worker bees are high in number and have short lifespans
Starting with the high concentration of workers bees, they will be out of the hive in your garden or backyard collecting the nectar and pollen to bring home. As they have a very short lifespan, it’s not unusual for them to die on the job.
If your garden and backyard is thriving with lots of flowers and plants, those bees will literally make a “bee-line” to your house. If there’s possibly 80,000 bees in a colony, just think how many could be close to death in your backyard!
That’s why you will find them dead on the ground, your patio, and around the garden. It’s a number’s game, and there’s thousands of them who will only live a few weeks and then die of natural causes.
Then you have the drone bees. Once they mate with a queen they immediately die and will be pushed out of the hive.
2. Bees are at risk of predators, disease, or even poisoning
Another reason you might find dead bees in your backyard is due to disease and predation. Bees can die due to parasitic infections, and will die whilst out at work, or pushed from the hive after death.
It’s also been found that lime trees can be harmful to bees. They have a toxic effect on the colony, so check to see if any lime trees have been planted in your neighborhood. Bees find the nectar on lime trees irresistible but it will kill them.
If you are finding lots of dead bees together, it could also be poisoning. Have you used a pesticide in your backyard, or have your neighbors been spraying something to kill the bees off?
3. When a cold winter comes, bees die off
Another possibility for why there are so many dead bees on the ground in your backyard garden is that the climate has changed. Bees will die on in winter. The Friends of the Earth website say this:
“After the new queens are produced and mate in the summer and autumn, the workers, males and old queens die off by winter. Typically, the newly mated queens hibernate through winter. They burrow into soft earth or under logs and stones to escape the frost, preferring north-facing banks where they will avoid being warmed up too early by the winter sun.”
More FAQs on finding dead bees in your garden or backyard
Are dead bees dangerous?
Finding dead bees in your backyard is fascinating, but the discovery can scare some people who might think dead bees are dangerous. The truth is somewhere in-between.
Firstly, the danger to you, your kids, or your pets is that it’s still possible for dead bees to sting you.
Whilst a bee can only sting once and will then die afterwards, if the bee has died without using its stinger, the venom is still there and active.
This means if you were to step on a dead bee barefoot, or grip a dead bee in your fingertips, you could suffer a venom injection.
Most people won’t have a dangerous reaction to a bee sting other than the obvious temporary discomfort. However, some people are at risk of a severe allergic reaction, and so dead bees can be potentially dangerous.
There’s a great primer on the Mayo Clinic website which explains how bee stings can be dangerous. Severe reactions can include:
- Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Swelling of the throat and tongue.
- A weak, rapid pulse.
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Dizziness or fainting.
- Loss of consciousness.
But it’s not just humans that dead bees in a backyard or garden can endanger. A dead bee is potentially dangerous to the entire hive, which is why you will often find dead bees in your garden or on a patio.
Why do I keep finding dead bees on my patio?
It’s simple preservation. If a dead bee has died from a disease, the other bees will remove the corpse from the nest so it can’t infect the remaining bees with sickness.
So, if you happen to find dead bees on a patio, look up. There might be a bees’ nest in the roof over your backyard or garden patio, where the dead bees have been pushed from.
Should I remove dead bees from my garden or backyard?
If you see dead bees in your garden or backyard, there’s no reason to remove them unless you are worried about a pet or child stepping on them and getting stung.
The only reason why you must remove dead bees from a backyard is if you have hives in your garden space. If that’s the case, then yes, remove the dead bees from it to avoid disease spreading.
However, dead bees in your backyard can add to the ecology of your garden of yard. Here’s what FlourishingPlants.com say:
“Dead bugs directly add essential nutrients such as nitrogen into the soil when added. The nitrogen is used by plants to produce green healthy leaves for photosynthesis while the dead organisms provide an extra source of food for beneficial bacteria and fungi within the soil.”
What does finding dead bees mean?
Aside from the reasons I’ve already outlined, I also discovered that some people believe dead bees to have some form of symbolism.
The various symbolic meanings of finding dead bees have been said to:
- Symbolize disease.
- Symbolize bad luck.
- Symbolize a passing threat.
- Symbolize you’re overworking yourself.
- Symbolize weakness in your community.
- Symbolize peace and quiet.
- Symbolize you need to be selfish.
These were found on the SymbolismAndMetaphor.com website.
Worker bees only live for a short number of weeks and will die naturally in large numbers. Because of this, it’s very common to find so many dead bees in your backyard. It’s nothing to worry about providing you are still seeing large numbers of living ones, as it’s simply the circle of life.
However, if you are seeing dead bees on the ground in large quantities, and no living ones buzzing about, there could be a disease, cold weather, or even poisoning coming into play.
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Photo of the dead bee used in the header image is via https://pixabay.com/photos/bee-dead-pesticides-macro-varroa-3419634/