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An Unwanted Picnic Guest
Spring has officially sprung and, aside from the still incredible and swiftly changing weather we have in Texas, we are finally starting to have some very pleasant days ahead of us. And In my family this means one thing.
It’s time to air out the house and get outside. It is time to start firing up the grill for weekends filled with barbequed chicken, burgers, brats, and my favorite grilled corn on the cob.
Spring evenings, spent dining outside, have been tradition in my family as long as I can remember. Dinners like these were common at Nana and Papa’s house and cherished by every member of my family.
The only problem that ever came of these dinners were not running out of food. (Nana made sure of that) But rather the swarm of bees and wasps that would perform concentrated aerial dive bombs on the picnic table.
Bee’s and wasps… proof that nature is both beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
Many people(including myself) have an inherent fear of these insects and even though I know that bees are vital to the ecosystem that doesn’t mean I have to like them!
The best thing any of us can do is to find a way to keep them away from us without harming them. They are not vicious by nature and most of the time is simply looking for a meal.
So, how do we keep them from being a nuisance.
A house and its surroundings can easily be secured from bees if sufficient measures are taken towards repelling them. The steps include taking care of everything that attracts them. Read the subsequent sections for a more detailed overview.
Keep it Tidy
Carpenter bees are known to be present in places like junkyards where a lot of unattended items are present. Take time to clean your garden and remove anything that fits into the category of junk or wastes (broken vehicle parts, unused wood, pulp etc.). Unattended gardens are the nesting grounds for most species of bees and leniency on this front should be avoided. By giving due attention to the garden, not only would an individual get rid of the menace but also find himself to be the owner of a beautiful garden.
Repellent: Buy vs Make
Certain essential oils work as repellents when diluted with alcohol or with a carrier oil. Some examples of carrier oils include olive oil, sunflower oil and other cooking oils. The essential oil that works best as a repellent against bees is orange oil, but to create a more universal repellent for an all day outdoor adventure, you can combine several essential oils like cinnamon oil and citronella oil.
The key here is to experiment with different oils to see what works best. ( I am highly sensitive to citronella oil, it makes me nauseous
The formula should consist of roughly 1 part natural oil and 10 parts carrier oil. Rub this on your skin or clothes while avoiding the eyes and you’re good to go.
Another option if you want to avoid any skin allergies would be to make up a mixture of 2 parts orange oil to 1 part water and use it in a sort of barrier spray. You would spray down wood fixtures and any areas that you want to keep free of bees. Just make sure that you test it on a small area first, orange oil can strip the finish off of wood if it is too strong.
I give a lot of leeway to bees (click here to see why), they are docile for the most part and beneficial insects for gardens and a have a host of other uses. The same can’t be said for Wasps…
Wasps, typically nest alone or in the case of social wasps (Yellow Jackets) the nest contains significantly fewer numbers than a bee hive ( I have seen at most 30 to a nest around my own home), but what they lack in numbers they make up for in pure evil….
For one they are much more aggressive than bee’s and two they are typically predatory, some even invade honey bee nests and kill off entire hives.
Regardless, when it comes to bees or wasps, I do not tolerate a nest being built on my home. If their nest is destroyed, bees avoid making a nest in the same location again. Wasps on the other hand, seem to be an annual problem. Either way I wil typically use a long range insect killer to begin my assault on these invaders. I will spray the entire nest killing off as many of the adults as possible and once they are removed, I destroy the remaining nest. My grandparents on the otherhand prefer burning over my use of chemicals.
Burning down can be achieved by keeping lighted newspaper right below their nest. However, this method comes with some precautions:
1. Attempt this method only at night when the bees are sleeping. It is their nature to be on guard during day and the you are more likely to be stung.
2. Keep children well away from the area while using this method
3. This is a big one but.. BE CAREFUL! You are lighting a fire and holding it to your home. Make sure you keep a fire extinguisher on hand just in case.
4. Lastly, if none of this sounds appealing to you or you are simply too allergic for these to be an option, call up pest removal services. They would be more than happy to help get rid of bees for a fee of course. Asking a few questions while they are there may also grant you a few extra tips and tricks that I don’t know about for future infestations.
Sadly, Even if you have used all of these methods you may still have bees zipping and buzzing around your otherwise peaceful lunch.
There are however a few other things you can do to limit how many are attracted to your outdoor spread.
1. Cover foods and beverages high in sugar or keep them indoors. Open soda cans and bottles become popular homes for bees and wasps.
2. Move hummingbird feeders away from high-traffic areas. Wasps and bees are attracted to the sweet nectar in the feeders.
Purchase a wasp trap. Traps are available at most hardware stores. Hang the trap on a tree away from areas where people tend to congregate.
I said above to purchase a wasp trap, but a friend of mine actually sent me some very simple instructions on how to build one for free from items you probably already have. Check it out below:
DIY Wasp Trap
A soda bottle (any size should work)
Flat soda or sugar water
A teaspoon of laundry soap or dish soap*
Pin or small knife
1. Clean the soda bottle very well and toss the cap.
2. Cut the top off of the bottle. Make the cut at the end of the neck.
3. Invert the top, placing the neck inside the bottle.
4. Fill the bottle within 1-2” of the bottle neck with a mixture of sugar water, or the flat soda and be sure to add the soap the mixture*
5. Punch two holes through the bottle in order to tie a string or wire for hanging.
5. Hang your trap with string near the hive or anywhere that is away from people(be careful!)
6. Check the trap often to remove the dead wasps and replenish the bait liquid.
In short, Spring is here and so are the bee’s, but don’t let a fear of being stung keep you from enjoying the wonderful outdoor weather and all of the allergies that come with it. After all we only have a few short months until summer sweeps in and makes being outside unbearable.
What do you think?
Did I miss anything? Or Do you know of another trick to keep the bee’s at bay during your outdoor excursions?
Leave a comment and let me know!