Bee Repellants

Bees are attracted by sweet fragrances such as flowers and perfumes. Finding natural ways to calm and repel bees is important as commercial pesticides and insecticides can help repel bees but they have harmful effects. 

Here are a few repellant methods:

  • Smoke

In the beekeeping world, smoke is commonly used. Smoke affects the bees in a non-toxic way. This is a good natural remedy to chase off the bees in your compound. You can set up campfires or use smoky candles. Smoke is used in honey harvesting since it lessens the bees aggressiveness by masking the alarm pheromone. It’s important to use smoke in intervals and with small amounts. Having your smoker handy on every hive inspection is highly recommended. The smoker can also be used in conjunction with the following two oils to help  

  • Tea Tree oil

Tea tree oil is a natural bee repellant that can be used in a number of ways. It is harmful if directly applied to bees but can be added to the smoker or sprayed around the areas in order to help herd the bees where you’d like them to go. For “forced absconds” where there is no rescued honey comb, this is used as the final step in the bee removal. This would be after the majority of the bees have already come out of the hive and you’re trying to clear the rest of the colony population out. Adding tea tree oil to the smoker gives the smoke a strong smell that gets the bees out of the home quickly. This allows the bee removal specialist to close up the holes where the bees can get in after the bees have vacated.

  • Bitter almond oil

Bees hate pungent odors. Bitter almond oil has this effect. Pour the oil on a piece of cloth and leave in open air to allow warm breeze to diffuse the smell in your environment. The piece of cloth should be exposed to sunlight to allow evaporation. This is often used when extracting honey and is applied on a fume board to drive the bees out of the honey super and into the rest of the colony. Then, the beekeeper can gently brush the remaining bees off the honey super and take that box to be extracted.

Beekeepers can use the repellants to their benefit to help accomplish the goal they’re after. It’s just another tool for the tool belt and is a good thing to understand and experiment with. There are recipes for home made repellants as well as commercially made, natural repellants such as Fisher’s Bee Quick and Honey B-Gone. Like anything, read the instructions and follow the labels when using commercial products.

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