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How to Keep Bees Away from Your House

Bees and other insects all have a place in the world.  They help maintain a natural balance so some pests do not destroy food crops.  Some of them even provide important pollination services for many of the foods we eat.  However, not everyone is a big fan of bees.  And, even those of us who are may find ourselves wanting to learn how to keep bees away.

Keep Bees Away from Your Home Naturally

Honey bee in window inside house.

If you plan to spend any time outside, chances are you will come into contact with bees.  In most cases, this is not reason for alarm.  Bumble bees and Honey bees are actually very docile unless their nest is nearby.

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When they are out gathering nectar and pollen, we call these individual foragers.  In a honey bee colony, foragers collect all the resources needed by the hive.

Still, you may wish to reduce the number of stinging insects in the immediate vicinity.  Some people have an intense fear of bees. It is a good idea to reduce the number of insects in some areas. There are a few ideas you can try.

Strategies to Reduce the Number of Bees and Wasps

  • Grow herbs or flowers that repel bees
  • Sprinkle ground cinnamon near seating areas
  • A water and vinegar spray may work well on non-plant areas
  • Make a spray using water with a little vanilla extract
  • Essential oils of some types are reported to discourage bees
  • Do not wear bright color or floral perfumes outside
  • Close up openings in the siding of your home or the eves
  • Remove any known nests while they are small

Use Plants that Discourage Bees

While bees and flowers have an important relationship, not every plant is attractive to bees.  When choosing plants to decorate areas near doorways and walks or to use in containers, choose those that are repellent to bees.

These include some herbs such as peppermint, eucalyptus, and citronella. This will reduce the number of visiting bees and the predators (such as wasps) that are there trying to catch a meal.

Avoid flowering herbs that attract bees such as the salvias, borage and others.

Citronella oil, cinnamon and vanilla extract examples of using odor to keep bees away.

Using Scent to Keep Bees Away

Like many insects, honey bees are very sensitive to odors.  Their ability to use scent to find food is far superior to ours.  There are also odors that they do not care for – such as cinnamon. 

When planning an outside party- or if you are having a problem with insects near a doorway, consider sprinkling a little ground cinnamon around. Beekeepers often use this technique to aid in keeping ants out of their beehives too.

Cucumber peels are said to repel investigating insects. Consider placing some on plates during your next outdoor activities. Crushed garlic is another one – if you can stand the smell yourself.

Another idea is to make a spray with water and a little vinegar, this can be misted on patios and masonry areas to discourage insects. Always test on a small area first to make sure there is no damage to surfaces.    Also, do not spray this on plants – vinegar is a natural weed killer and may damage vegetation.

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Mixing a tablespoon of Vanilla Extract with water in a spray bottle, creates a natural pest repellant spray. If you do not have sensitive skin, you can lightly dab a bit on your arms to discourage insects.

Essential Oils such as peppermint oil are known to repel bees. Placing a few cotton balls with a drop or two of peppermint oil around the deck can help. It makes the area smell nice too!

Don’t Attract Bees to Yourself

If you are allergic to bee stings or have severe apiphobia, don’t go outside looking and smelling like a flower.  Bright colored clothing and strong floral perfumes or fragrances may bring the insects over to investigate.  This is exactly what you do not want.

Funny thing is that sweet smelling baby powder tends to repel bees. I often use it in the bee yard between my gloves and the end of my sleeves when inspecting hives.

Avoid leaving food scraps or soda sitting around after eating outside. Sugary drinks are especially enticing to insects. Once one finds the treat, they bring back friends.

Keep Honey Bees Out of Your House

Seeing honey bees visit your garden is a beautiful experience.  However, if they take up residence in your home – that can be a big problem.  It is very expensive to have colonies removed from the walls of a house.

Avoid this problem by sealing gaps or openings in the siding of your house, porch columns and eves.  They are only trying to find a place for a new home but it is not best to have them sharing yours.

Single wasp on small nest.

Remove Wasp Nests and Colonies

There are many differences between the nests of bees and wasps.  However, it is better to remove any unwanted nests while they are still small.  Wasps nests are easily destroyed in the early stages.  A honey bee colony may require the services of an area beekeeper.

Nests in the ground are typically Yellow Jacket Wasps.  These aggressive predators can be very dangerous.  Buying traps specifically for yellow jackets – or making your own is one way to deal with them.

While these methods help reduce the population of bees around your home, they likely will not work for Carpenter bees. Other than special traps, I have not found a great way to deal with them.

Sharing the World with Insects

In spite of the benefits that these useful insects provide, there are times when they are not wanted. Keeping bees away from hummingbird feeders or explaining why your bees are visiting the neighbors pool – these are the times when the lives of bees and humans clash.

Try several techniques until you find one that works for your target insect, you can even make your own Beeswax Citronella candles. There are many things you can do. But, try to avoid resorting to harsh chemicals. It hurts us all.