While bees may be necessary to our ecosystem, that doesn’t mean you want them in your yard. Here are a few common ways you can help keep bees at bay.
Lately, there has been a lot of buzz around bees and what makes them tick. These pollinators, including honey bees, are responsible for a large portion of the United States' agricultural production each year. Bees gather nectar and pollen from a wide variety of plant species, helping both wild foliage and cultivated crops.
Although they are useful, it is understandable to not want bees around your home or yard. There are a few things you can do that will act as bee repellents.
One of the best bee repellents is prevention. Bees are attracted to sugary, sweet substances, especially when flowers are not in ready supply. According to Ric Bessin, an extension entomologist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, there are some simple things homeowners can do to discourage bees.
"Areas in which syrup or other sugars are frequently spilled or accumulate should be cleaned regularly to discourage honey bees. The use of plastic can-liners and lids for trash cans will discourage honey bees. In areas such as aluminum can recycling centers where it may not be practical to keep these areas clean, barriers such as windows and door screens, or lids on bins should be installed. A few initial bees discovering a readily available sugar source can recruit a larger number in a short period of time."
Another way to minimize your home's attractiveness to bees is to seal or screen openings. If bees cannot easily enter a space, they will usually pass it by. In an article for entomologytoday.org, Derek Roach writes that if sealing and screening are not possible, treating scout bees – sent ahead of a swarm to find good hive sites – is.
"An effective substitute is to apply treatment to the scout bees lingering around your home. This will prevent the scout bees from informing the swarm of the potential nesting spot. As a result, the swarm moves on to another location. However, the trick is to take action quickly as bees can move in suddenly. Reducing outdoor clutter can also prevent bees from nesting in your yard. Unused appliances or lawn equipment found in yards can attract honey bees since they provide sufficient shelter for a hive to thrive."
If prevention and protection fail to act as a bee repellent, there are pesticides that can be used to treat a bee problem. However, a guide produced by the Coalition for Urban/Rural Environmental Stewardship, Syngenta® and Bayer Crop Science points out that not all pesticides work on bees, and some are banned in agricultural areas altogether to protect pollinators.
"In many farming areas, provincial, state or county departments of agriculture can provide information about pollinator protection. … Check for specific local ordinances pertaining to pollinators, especially beehive locations or designated preserves (if applicable), and notification requirements if pollinator-toxic pesticides are planned to be applied … "
The best way to protect your home from bees is to consult with a pest management professional. They are trained to look for potential problem sites and effectively manage pest problems.