Summer can be a frustrating time as far as insects are concerned, and sweat sees are no exception. Gate crashing your garden party, circling your head, or using your arm as a landing strip. What is it with these insects, why are they so interested in us and are they dangerous?
In this article, we will reveal the secret world of this bee and offer expert advice on how to get rid of sweat bees and get your garden party back on track.
- 9 Solutions: How to Get Rid of Sweat Bees Safely
- What Does a Sweat Bee Look Like?
- Behavior & Habitat
- Are Sweat Bees Dangerous?
- What Attracts Sweat Bees?
- When To Call a Professional Pest Removal Service
- Frequently Asked Questions About Bees
9 Solutions: How to Get Rid of Sweat Bees Safely
Some bees are important pollinators, ensuring that your flowers and garden bloom. You might want to kill a few when you see them but their benefits outweigh any risks by far. Your best option is to simply drive them away.
1. Bee Traps
You can buy a standard bee trap from Amazon or your nearest gardening or hardware store. This pest control approach is simple. Just place a sweet substance inside the trap to lure the bees.
The bait can be made of water and sugar, a dish soap mixture, fruit nectar, honey, or any other sweet fragrant substance. The traps are designed with a funnel-shaped opening. Once inside the container, the bee cannot exit through the narrow opening inside the trap.
2. Bee Spray
For localized use, a bee or wasp spray will be an effective treatment. Its use outdoors will be limited but for indoor use, it is a very effective and easy remedy.
3. Ground Bee Insecticide
There are insecticides on the market designed specifically for bees that nest within the ground, such as ground bees and miner bees. In general, they are powder or liquid-based treatments.
The powder or dust is to be applied around the opening of the nest. The bees move through the opening, pick up the insecticide on their bodies, and transport it deeper inside the nest — affecting any other inhabitants, including the queen.
Liquids come as a concentrate and can be diluted into a spray form. In the case of ground bees, it is often effective to dilute the insecticide with water and pour the solution into and around the burrow as a soak treatment.
4. Bee Repellent
Sweat bee repellent is an excellent way to push bees out of your proximity. You can try either branded products purchased over the counter or attempt to make one of the many homemade formulas.
Like most insects, bees have a difficult time dealing with certain pungent smells. Citronella candles, sprays, or rub-on lotions are very effective for personal use.
They provide the convenience of pulling out a bottle or can and applying it in spray or ointment form.
If you want a more creative DIY approach, you can achieve similar results with natural products too.
5. Essential Oils
You can often find a solution in nature. Citrus fruit has a thick skin pungent with oils. If you squeeze the rind of citrus you will see and smell the essential oils spray into the air. The thick rind and strong smell are a form of defense to protect the delicate fruit flesh and seeds from insect attack.
Following this logic, we can apply the same tactics to our skin or the surrounding areas. There is a short list of essential oils that you can buy online that are effective insect repellents these include:
- Lemon Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Clove Oil
- Rosemary Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Citronella Oil
Take any of the essential oils listed above and dilute them with water, then them onto your skin. Alternatively, use an essential oil burner placed in the areas to be treated. This is a great way to enjoy the pleasant aroma of the oils and keep your living space bee-free.
If you want to take your natural repellent to the next level, you could add the essential oils to an at-home candle kit. Burn these beautiful candles in glass jars on your outdoor dining table.
6. Good Personal Hygiene
If you’re going to spend time in the garden, practice good hygiene to take away the main attractant: sweat. Remember, it’s the sodium (salt) in your sweat that draws in bees. Limit your sweat accumulation and you can minimize the problem.
7. Wear Long Sleeves And Pants
If the weather permits, try covering up. Full-length pants and long-sleeved shirts are effective choices of protective clothing. They have the added benefit of reducing the exposure of your sweaty skin to the breeze that carries the scent downwind.
A word of caution: Sweat bees can crawl inside clothes, so this approach might not always be effective.
8. Use Mothballs
Mothballs are another product available from stores such as Amazon that produce a smell that bees detest. To make use of mothballs, hang them close to the bee nest. Over time, the smell will prevent the bees from returning.
9. Selective Planting
Certain plants give off a scent that bees and other insects love. So, it makes sense to remove these plants from your garden, or at least move them to a location where you’re happy for bees to populate. Some of the main plants to move include:
- Black-eyed Susan
What Does a Sweat Bee Look Like?
Most sweat bee species are metallic-to-dull black, displaying metallic green, purple, or blue abdomens with long, furry hind legs and a sharp, short tongue. Males also display black and yellow striped abdomens.
Relatively small when compared to other bees. They’re typically 0.5 inches long or less.
They have slender bodies, with the queen exhibiting a more rounded shape.
Number of Legs
Two out-turned horn-like antennae are used for scent and measuring flight speed.
Most sweat bees are commonly brown or black and yellow. Many species also display metallic blue or green bodies.
Behavior & Habitat
This bee will often be found in swarms. Despite this, they’re rarely aggressive. Their short tongues are used for lapping up sweat, hence their name. If the bee is pressed against your skin, it usually stings but the sting is the least painful of all insect stings.
Where Do Sweat Bees Live?
Also known as Halictid bees, there are around 3,500 species worldwide, with many species across the United States, Europe, and North Africa. Depending on the bee subspecies, they may live alone or in colonies.
There are over 1,000 species present within the United States and 44 species in Florida alone. Great Britain is also home to approximately 40 species, a modest number compared to the USA but still impressive.
Where Do Sweat Bees Nest?
Most species nest within soil burrows. They live in earthen lairs in sunny, dry places but will also nest in softwood. Certain species are communal (eusocial) or semi-social, while other subspecies are solitary insects.
Since sweat bees are attracted to water and perspiration, they are often found in close proximity to humans in humid conditions, as well as in orchards or meadows.
How Big Are Colonies?
This depends on the specific variety of sweat bee. Many species are solitary. They burrow into bare soil to nest in individual cells and lay their pupae. Other species are eusocial, meaning they colonize.
Is There Usually a Queen?
The fertilized female is known as a gyne and, in effect, becomes a queen. She will birth workers who will defend the nest.
The role of the male bee is solely to mate.
What Does It Mean When a Bee Lands On You?
Like all animals, sweat bees require a diet containing appropriate vitamins and minerals. As humans perspire, we excrete water and salt through our pores. It’s the salt content that attracts the bees to land on your skin. It’s a more accessible dose of sodium than they will typically find in their usual food source.
Are Sweat Bees Dangerous?
Stings from sweat bees aren’t dangerous and victims hardly suffer any pain. In fact, they are the least painful of all insect stings. However, bear in mind that, like all bites and stings, an allergic reaction is possible in some cases.
Do Sweat Bees Sting?
Females can sting but these bees are generally not considered aggressive. They don’t attack people for the sole intention of stinging them. Their only aim is to land on your skin and drink from the sweat droplets.
Like most insects, if left alone they present virtually zero risks and stings only generally occur if you aggravate or pose a threat. Most stings occur when we attempt to brush the bee from our skin or clothes.
Treating a Sting
Once stung, the bee continues to inject venom for as long as they remain unchecked. It’s important to remove the bee and its stinger as soon as possible to minimize the impact.
Clean the area affected with water and soap, and use an ice pack to ease any swelling or inflammation. If the pain doesn’t subside, use a pain relief gel or cream.
There can be an allergic reaction but it might not be immediately obvious. If the pain or swelling spreads to other areas of the body, or you experience labored breathing, dizziness, or nausea, visit the emergency room immediately.
What Attracts Sweat Bees?
As a vital pollinator, the bee usually looks for flowers and is found hanging around fields and gardens. Sweat bees derive their name from the love of the salt found in human sweat, which is scarcely found in the plants or flowers they feed on.
When To Call a Professional Pest Removal Service
Sometimes it’s easier to hire a pest removal service than try to get rid of bees on your own. This is especially important if you have a large swarm of bees. If their colony has become excessive, you may need professional support.
Remember, female sweat bees do sting! If you’re intending to deal with a nest or infestation without the appropriate protective clothing, you’ll be putting yourself in harm’s way.