Bees. You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.
Most people like to have the occasional visitor come by for a bit of conversation or a drink. But very few of us want those visitors to move in permanently. This is the exact same dilemma we face with bees.
We all know that they’re good for the environment and good for us, pollinating plants and producing honey, wax, and bee pollen, but no one wants bees in their house. They tend to sting when they feel threatened and we tend to threaten bees that are in our homes. Not only are bee stings painful, but they can even be dangerous or fatal for those with severe bee allergies.
That’s why, in this article, we’ll explore natural ways to keep bees away from your home.
Scientists will tell you that the key to dealing with any animal is to understand them. So, to learn how to keep bees away, you must first understand why they’ve come to your house in the first place. Only then can you figure out how to prevent them from doing just that.
Bees, like most animals, need three main things to survive: food, water, and shelter. That’s why the first step you should take is to make your home unattractive to bees in terms of these three things. Then you can identify what keeps bees away and how to use that to prevent bees from coming in or near your home.
Make them look for shelter somewhere else
One basic need for bees is shelter. They need a place to build their nest or hive. Many of the things that make our homes good for us make them good for bees, too. Dry, shaded areas offer ideal shelter from the elements (including excess sunlight). But there are a few simple things you can do to let the bees know that they aren’t welcome in your home.
Proper maintenance is key. Therefore, you’ll need to take care of both your home and yard, keeping them clean and tidy.
Heaps of dry wood, decaying leaves, and litter serve as a green light to bees, telling them that they can move in. So, make sure to keep your yard clutter free, especially in areas near your house.
Remove and properly store all empty buckets, flower pots, unused hoses, pipes, and lawn equipment. Repair the eaves and any overhangs on your house and patch up any holes you can find. All bees need to get in your home is a 1/8-inch (1/3-cm) hole. Make sure that all possible pest entryways are properly sealed with silicone, caulk, expanding foam, or metal screen. Leave no holes unplugged as bees will use them to enter your home. Finally, routinely check your house, yard, shed, and basement for any of these problems and fix them as soon as possible.
If you’ve ever had bees before, make sure their old nest has been destroyed and removed. Some types of bees (e.g., honey bees) are attracted to the scent of others of their species.
Ground-nesting bees can be discouraged from using your yard as a home by simply moist soil. If you start to notice bee activity in the yard, spray the area with your garden hose.
Remove any natural bee attractants
Another basic need for bees is food. Many people love to plant flowers near their homes. But bees feed on flower pollen and nectar. The flowers that you planted near your house will serve as an invitation for bees to visit your home.
One good way to avoid this – while still having a flower garden – is to design your landscaping so that your garden is as far away from your house as possible. This will help ensure that the bees aren’t tempted to visit your home after visiting your flowers. You can even plant some bee-friendly plants on the edge of your property, away from the house, to make sure that the bees visit those spots rather than the flowers that are closer to your living quarters.
Water is another bee attractant. Bees will search for sources of water in the hot, dry summer months. So, make sure that there’s no standing or dripping water near your house.
Water can also be a good way to redirect bees, so they stop coming near your home. Simply place a container of water far from your home in an area that receives little disturbance. The bees should choose this container instead.
Use natural bee repellents
Finally, there’s the question of what to use to keep bees away from your house. Due to the ecological benefits of bees, we’d strongly advise you to only use natural bee repellents that will keep these insects away rather than killing them.
Below, you’ll find some natural repellents you can use to let bees know they aren’t welcome in your home.
Placing small containers of vinegar around the house will help repel bees.
Boil some garlic in water and let the mixture cool. Pour the liquid in a spray bottle and, from time to time, spray this in the areas that you notice bees visiting regularly.
Essential oils such as citronella, peppermint, hyssop, fennel, lavender, thyme, lemongrass, or any combination of these will deter bees. Spray a mixture of essential oil and water around your home. Wipe down surfaces with essential oils or simply place cotton balls soaked in essential oils around your house.
Make sure that kids and pets don’t mistake the cotton balls for candy. If there is a chance of that happening, choose a different method of using these bee-repelling essential oils.
Boil chopped up spicy peppers (e.g., jalapeno) and strain the solution (once it has cooled) into a spray bottle. This may also work on other insects, too, as many don’t like hot peppers.
Place some cucumber peels by your windows to keep bees away.
You can sprinkle some cinnamon in the areas that bees like to visit. The strong smell of cinnamon will repel them.
Suitable nest site
Believe it or not, having a suitable nest site in your yard is also a good way to keep bees from coming inside or making a colony near your house.
Make sure the site is as far away from your house as possible while close enough that the bees will choose to enter the site instead of your home. As mentioned, bees prefer dark, dry areas.
For ground nesting bees (e.g., some species of bumble bee), leave an undisturbed area of sandy soil in the shade. You can also make a nesting site for ground bees using an overturned flower pot and a rubber hose. Place nesting material (dry grass/leaves) on the ground, then turn the flower pot upside down over the nesting material. Bury the flowerpot partway in the ground and run the hose from inside the flower pot through the soil, and back up to the surface outside the pot. Make sure to poke drain holes in the hose. Cover the hole in the bottom of the pot with a slate tile or other flat, heavy object.
For cavity-nesting bees (e.g., honey bees), build or install a box with a volume of 20-100 L about 9 feet (3 meters) off the ground in a dry, shady location. Make sure the entrance is small and positioned at the bottom of the box.
For carpenter bees, install untreated wood posts at the edges of your property.
Of course, with more severe bee infestations, you might feel the need to seek professional help. You can ask an exterminator to remove the nest or destroy it yourself using commercially available bee killers and repellents.