Bees are an essential part of our world, and to say that we cannot live without them is not an exaggeration. Without them and other essential pollinators, 90% of the world’s food would cease to exist. One-third of food production throughout the entire world depends on bees alone! And with all the pesticides used in gardening and lawn maintenance, the well-being of bees is threatened daily. This is just one of the many reasons why Bath Garden Center focuses on natural, organic gardening. Find out more about how to help bees and other pollinators by planting native plants that attract pollinators!
While bees play such a vital role in our lives, they can also pose a threat in certain situations. Whether it’s an unsightly or unsafe bee hive located near your home, or whether you are trying to protect yourself or a loved one from a sting that could bring about a severe allergic reaction, there are ways to avoid bees, or rather, help them avoid you!
When To Leave the Bee's Alone
Here are several factors to consider before taking action. With the critical role which bees play, it is important to make sure that you are taking the environment into account, as there are situations where allowing the bees to stay is the best course of action, despite the sting risk.
Bees Aren’t Inherently Mean
This may be controversial, however despite people’s fear of bees, they will not sting you for no reason. Bees are quite happy with simply minding their own business and doing their job of pollinating plants. Bees will usually only attack a human if that human is posing some sort of immediate threat to the bee or its nest. These gentle creatures may be interested in the floral shirt you decided to wear for that family BBQ, though it will quickly move on once it realizes those flowers are in no need of pollination. However, if you begin to wave and swat at the bee, it may decide to retaliate. So, leave it alone and it will leave you alone!
If no one in the family is severely allergic to bees, it may be a better option to let them stay. You may risk a painful sting, however even this is unlikely. And in the event that you do get stung, you will likely only incur a single sting, unless you are posing a threat to the entire nest. Young children are a common reason to want to remove bees from an area. However, if a sting is only going to cause discomfort and does not pose a threat otherwise, it may be better to use the bees presence as a chance to teach the children about bees rather than removing them from the environment.
Location of the Nest
Location plays a big part in the likelihood of getting stung. The farther away a nest is, the less of a threat it is. Similarly, the further away a bee is from its nest, then less likely it will be to sting. So, think about the location of the nest, and if it is relatively distant, consider leaving it be.
Are Attractions Nearby?
If you have flowers that seem to attract an unusual number of bees planted in close proximity to frequently used outdoor spaces, this could pose a threat, as the more often you are near bees, the more likely you are to get stung due to some accidental encounter. In this case, finding some way to attract bees away from highly trafficked areas may be in order. If you do not have many attractions planted nearby, or if the number of bees hanging out near your patio is minimal, it may be worth it to simply leave them alone.
Are You Sure It’s a Bee?
This may seem like a silly question, but there are plenty of little flying critters out there that look very similar! There are hundreds of species of flies that mimic bees extremely well, and in addition to flies, there are also wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and other more dangerous flying insects. In the case of any of these less favorable species, it is recommended to remove their nests as quickly as possible. However, make sure you know what you are dealing with before you do, as yellow jackets and the like tend to be aggressive and will sting with no provocation.
How To Deter Bees Naturally
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to ward off the bees that are making an appearance around your home, here are some natural options that are safe for you and for the bees. While there are plenty of different chemical sprays and pesticides out there that will fix your bee problem, this is not recommended. Remember, bees account for one-third of our food!! And in a world where pesticides and other chemicals are used so often, bees are already facing enough difficulty as it is. So, don’t use products that will prove deadly to the bees, and instead try some of these options:
Bees do not like the smell of garlic, so sprinkling some garlic powder in areas where you have noticed them the most can help ward them off. Be sure to not sprinkle the bees themselves with garlic powder, as this is not good for them and could be deadly.
Peppermint plants are a great way to deter bees as these plants emit a fragrance that the bees dislike very much. Include these plants in your landscaping or in your flower pots, plant them around the perimeter of your home, or simply plant them near areas where you like to spend time.
Similar to garlic powder, cinnamon can be sprinkled in areas where bees are not wanted to keep them away. Do this as often as you see bees in the area, and you may keep them away for good!
Placing an open bowl of white distilled vinegar in any area where you do not want bees will help keep them away. This can be done on your patio or in your home or wherever the problem persists.
Whether you want to use candles or the plants themselves, citronella is effective at masking the aroma of other plants that bees may be attracted to. Another benefit of using citronella is it will ward off the mosquitos too!
Create your own solution of water and mild dish soap, put it in a spray bottle, and spray areas where you have noticed unwanted bees. Be careful not to make your solution too strong though, as this could damage your plants (generally a 1:1 ratio is adequate).
Bees do not like the odor of mothballs, so hang them anywhere you do not what to see bees. You can do this using old nylons, cheesecloth, or some other kind of thin material.
These beautiful and bright flowers bloom all summer long and put off an aroma that is not favorable to the bees. Planting them around your yard or in your flowerpots will help keep the bees at bay.
When To Call a Beekeeper
In the case that the bees around your home pose a serious danger, or if the techniques mentioned above are not working, we definitely recommend calling in a beekeeper to assist you in removing them from the area. If you have a nest somewhere nearby, or if you simply have a lot of bees but aren’t sure where the nest may be, a beekeeper will know how to track down the nest and properly remove and relocated the bees. Since much of removing unwanted bees involves relocating their home, the bees can become hostile in attempts to protect their home. A beekeeper will come with protective equipment and all the tools required to do the least amount of damage. Do not attempt to remove a bee hive on your own, as this is likely to result in significant harm to you, the likely death of many bees, as well as the destruction of their home.
If you have any questions or concerns, or if you want to know more about how to attract bees and other pollinators, feel free to give us a call or fill out a contact form!
Anderson, Abel. "Naturally Repel Bees and Keep Them Away." Net News Ledger.16 February 2018. Web. Date Accessed 15 June 2021. https://www.netnewsledger.com/2018/02/16/naturally-repel-bees-keep-away/
"Bees: When to Remove Them, and When to Leave Them Alone." Green Pest Solutions. 13 August 2015. Web. Date Accessed 15 June 2021. https://www.greenpestsolutions.com/2015/08/bees-when-remove-when-leave-alone/