If you love playing in the dirt, you know all about the important role bees play in pollinating and maintaining earth’s balance. Without bees there would be no flowers or food for us to eat. But if you can’t accommodate bees as your garden guests due to allergies, there are plenty of easy, natural solutions that won’t harm bees or the environment.
1. Avoid planting strong-scented flowers
Bees can’t resist the rich perfume of certain flowers, so avoid strong-smelling florals. Instead, try azaleas, cacti and succulents, euonymus, grasses, marigolds, philodendron, phormiums and shade cordylines.
2. Keep the area dry
Bees will travel far and wide for water, and when they find it they’ll keep coming back, often in greater numbers. Take a look outside your home to see if there are any leaky pipes or other sources of water that need to be fixed. Keep pet water bowls covered when not in use and consider a cover for your swimming pool. If you have a bird birth, add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar per 3.8 litres of water. This won’t deter birds but will keep bees away.
3. Use essential oils
Bees aren’t keen on the scent of essential oils derived from tea-tree, lemongrass, peppermint, citronella, citrus, mint and eucalyptus (the plants themselves are not deterrents). Rub the oils on your outdoor furniture (if safe to do so). You can also dab the oil on a rag, cotton ball or tissue and place around the garden or your outdoor area.
4. Try soap & water
If you have plants in your garden that bees can’t get enough of, spray the plants with soapy water (while the bees are away). Fill an empty spray bottle with a couple of teaspoons of liquid dish soap mixed with water. You can safely spray this mix on almost anything in your garden. You can also add a few drops of peppermint oil to the soapy solution. A pinch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper added to the soapy water works as well. Note: Spray your surfaces, not the bees, as this may agitate them and get you stung. Your mixture is meant to repel not kill bees.
5. Sprinkle baby powder
An easy way to keep bees away is to sprinkle (ideally) organic baby powder around your garden.
6. Harness the power of garlic
Sprinkle garlic powder around your garden or make a garlic tea by boiling one garlic bulb in 500ml of water for 10 minutes. Take it off the stove and let it cool. Remove the garlic, pour the water into a spray bottle and spray the areas you want to keep bee-free. The garlic scent will overpower the sweet smell of the other plants that bees love.
7. Versatile vinegar
If you want to keep bees away temporarily while you’re working in the garden, fill small containers with full-strength white vinegar and place them around the garden. Be careful not to spill any on the plants because it can kill them.