Plants that Bees and Wasps Don’t Like
Plants that repel bees are often desired by new gardeners. It may be hard for fellow bee-lovers to hear that some folks want to keep bees away. However, there are some good reasons for wanting flowers that bees don’t like. Perhaps, someone in your family is allergic to bee or wasp venom. Or you may have young children that are very afraid of insects. Even a bee friendly garden may have spaces near walkways etc where a couple of bee repellent plants would fit in nicely.
There are not a large number of plants that deter bees and wasps because of the beneficial relationship between these two life forms developed over millions of years. Some plants depend on insect visitors for seed production.
However, plants can ward off insects through the use of scents or smells. Bees are very sensitive to odors and have a clear preference for some flowers over others.
Don’t Plant Flowers that Bees Love
This may sound like obvious advice but refrain from using plants or flowers that attract bees near the areas of the garden that you wish to be free of insects.
Bees are attracted to bright colors and sweet-smelling flowers. They are working to collect the plant nectar to make honey and to gather pollen to feed their young.
It is a bit unreasonable to plant flowers loved by bees and expect them to stay away.
Take the time to read a Flower Gardeners Bible – know the characteristics of a plant before you buy it.
If the particular plants that you love are also favorites of bees, perhaps you could have a bee friendly section of the yard off to one side away from humans.
Are There Plants that Repel Wasps But Not Bees?
Wasps visit flowers and sometimes drink sweet nectar. You won’t find many plants that repel wasps. Because meat eating wasps are actually helpful to plants.
Wasps eat other bugs that harm the plants so it would be counterproductive for the plant to want to keep wasps away
I have heard that wasps do not like the scent of mint plants. But mint can go wild, so take care when deciding where to add it to the garden.
Also, when some types of mint are in bloom you will probably have visiting honey bees who love to work the flowers.
In my book, Choosing the Best Flowers for Your Honeybee Garden, I talk about the importance of considering the bloom habit of each type of plant.
Natural Pest Control with Plants
If your goal is to have fewer bees and wasp attracting plants around, you have a few choices.
This first choice is to consider plants that don’t bloom. If there is no flower that provides food, hungry bees will spend their time elsewhere.
For those spots in the garden where you really want to see color, try to choose plants that are not beneficial to honey bees. Some of these flowers are not so attractive to our flying insect friends.
Geraniums are Not a Bee Favorite
Geraniums are not very attractive to bees and other insects. They have a strong scent that is off-putting to many insects. They also contain almost no pollen that would entice bees.
If you choose red geraniums, that is even better because bees see red as black. This dark color is not inviting to a foraging worker bee.
Geraniums are a tender annual in most locations but they can be grown very well in pots.
While these plants do not attract bees, they are okay to include in your bee friendly landscape if you are particularly fond of the flower or foliage.
Wormwood Keeps Bees and Insects Away
Wormwood (Artemisia) is one of the few plants that noticeably repel most insects. The strong odor is not offensive to humans but is not favored at all by bees.
This plant is actually a herb that is used for various folk remedies. It is native to Europe but grows well in many other parts of the world.
This herbaceous perennial can be found growing wild as it has naturalized widly across the landscape. Reaching heights of up to 3 ft, the silvery-green leaves are very attractive.
Wormwood can be grown as an ornamental. Because it is pollinated by the wind, it has nothing to offer bees.
Do Marigolds Repel Bees?
No, not necessarily – though some sources say otherwise. Marigold plants are often used as a companion plant in the garden because of their capacity to deter some insects.
They can discourage some stinging insects from hanging around due to their pungent odor. Marigolds have very little pleasing fragrance and little pollen.
Marigold plants do not necessarily discourage hungry honeybees though. However, I have not found them to be especially attractive to my bees.
During the time of year when Marigolds are blooming, the bees often have other nectar sources that they prefer.
The bolder oranges and deep reds might be the best color combinations to use if you want to be less inviting to bees.
Roses are Not Very Attractive to Bees
Roses are a popular landscape plant that come in many different varieties. You can find roses in every color, shape and bush size. You can even find roses that have been developed for large beautiful blooms and less thorns.
Roses are not very attractive to honey bees. To increase your chances of seeing fewer bees around your rose bushes, choose red or other dark colors.
Also, avoid rose plants that are highly scented. Bees are so sensitive to smell. A fragrant aroma is very enticing to a working bee.
Keep Bees Away From Favorite Plants Naturally
If you have a few special plants that you feel you just can’t live without and want to keep bees away, there are a few things you can try.
Please don’t kill the bees, they are only hungry and looking for food. Try sprinkling some of these items near the plants you wish to remain bee free and it many discourage the insects.
- cucumber peels
- peppermint leaves
- organic baby power
- crushed garlic
- vanilla extract spray
Final Thoughts on Plants That Repel Bees
Try to find a space in your backyard or garden to have some bee friendly plants. Our hard working pollinators will appreciate it very much.
For those situations when you really want to keep bees and wasps away, try to choose flowers that are not overly attractive to the bees.
Avoid bright colors like blue, yellow and violet because these are bee favorites. And utilize some of the plants that may help repel some bee traffic in your yard.