There is not a day that passes when we are reminded of how important bees are for the environment and in plant biodiversity, but they sting, and that is still a cause for concern for gardens and landscapes. And let us not get started on wasps. They are straight on brutal, and their sting could be fatal if not mitigated immediately.
Since it is not that acceptable to exterminate bees because they are a source of honey and we need them for pollination, and since wasps are a challenge to eliminate, here is a rundown of plants that repel wasps and bees.
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In this article:
- How do you keep wasps and bees away from plants?
- 17 plants that repel wasps and bees
- What smells do wasps hate?
- What plants attract bees and wasps?
- Does peppermint keep wasps away?
- What yard maintenance steps should be done to keep wasps away?
- What should I do to keep ground bees away from the home?
- Do wasps kill bees?
- Why are wasps dangerous?
- Are honey bees dangerous?
- Are bees aggressive to humans?
How do you keep wasps and bees away from plants?
There are a lot of ways in which you can use insect repellent plants to your advantage. Here are some handy tips that you should put into mind when choosing plants in repelling bees and wasps away from the garden.
- Bees and wasps hate overpowering smells so make sure that you use this for your advantage.
- Plants with sharp spines are also hated by bees and wasps.
- Use fake, flashy flowers to confuse stinging insects.
- Bees and wasps are colorblind to specific colors so make sure that you know which colors these are.
- Use plants that lures wasps and bees because of their color but in turn traps them or eats them.
17 plants that repel wasps and bees
Let us go straight to plant alternatives that are natural repellents for wasps and bees. Some of them are very common and all of them are easy to grow and are low maintenance. Hence, here are 17 plants that repel wasps and bees.
This is always a shocker for insect repellent plants. Wasps and bees hate the acidity of cucumbers and are also not a fan of its bitter taste to them.
To use cucumber as bees and wasp repellent, you can plant one in the garden and have a stable source of fruit, or you could also shred them and just distribute the peels in the garden or where the bees and wasps are nesting.
Related: 15 Best Plants That Repel Roaches
We all love basil because it is an all-around herb, used for pasta dishes and salads. It is also a very underrated pest and insect repellant. Its strong aroma is hated by roaches, mites, as well as bees and wasps.
Having basil in the garden comes in handy but it also makes the landscape bee and wasp free. This herb is easy to grow, loves the sun, and is low maintenance.
Related: 20+ Plants That Repel Snakes
When we are talking about bee repellent geraniums, we are specifically talking of red geraniums. There are two reasons why bees are not fond of geraniums, and they would easily fly off when they see one.
First, bees are colorblind to red and second, geraniums produce little to no pollen at all. Geraniums have flashy colors, and they make good border and accent plants, so they are a versatile garden addition.
4. Pitcher plants
This is an interesting plant because it is a trap crop. As such, instead of just repelling bees and wasps, pitcher plants trap them and ‘eat’ them. Insects, including bees and wasps are lured to these plants because of their glossy look and delicate colors.
They are very slippery and when they are not eaten by these plants, they can slip down, fall to a pool of water, and then die by drowning. This is a very tricky plant to grow and maintain so it might be the best choice.
This well-loved herb is not just for salads and cocktails but are also natural repellents for wasps and other insects. Wasps hate their strong smell because it is too overwhelming for them.
They can be planted as container plants and placed around the home or in the garden bed. It can also be extracted for their oil and be used in humidifiers to wasp-proof the home.
6. Trumpet flowers
Because of the peculiar shape and look of trumpet flowers, bees are challenged in extracting nectar from this plant, making it a natural repellent for them. Its dull colors and pungent smell also deter wasps and other pests and insects.
Some of the best trumpet flowers that you can adorn your garden would be amaryllis, honeysuckle, buttercups, and narcissus.
This is another underrated pest and insect repellent. Also known as Artemisia, the leaf of this plant is harvested and dried to be packed in bundles and then hanged around the home to deter wasps and bees.
This was the traditional way of using it but now, oils are extracted from the wormwood to use it as essential oil. It can also be planted as a border plant and be used as a barrier for wasps and bees.
In the natural world, wasps and lemongrass just do not mix. The reason for this is the large citronella concentrations found in lemongrass, making its citrus scent overpowering for most insects like mosquitoes, bees, and wasps.
It is easy to grow and thrives on neglect. It can also be used as a container plant to be placed in window sills and other spaces in the home where insects are mainstays.
This is a cousin of the lemongrass and all other citrus scented plants and herbs. It repels a whole range of insects including mosquitoes, fleas, mites, bees, and wasps. Again, the scent of eucalyptus is very powerful for these insects making it a natural repellent for them. They can be grown as trees or can be potted in containers. The leaves can also be processed to make essential oils.
Related: Top 7 Plants That Repel Spiders
This is not a popular bee repellent plant, but it sure deserves a lot of recognition. Since it is a compact plant, it is perfect as an underplant for many landscapes and as potted plants for the home to be bee-proof.
Bees do not swarm around it because it is not that colorful plus the smell is pungent for them. They fare well in partial sun and shade and love well-draining soils.
This one has a spicy and sweet scent. Though bees and wasps could be attracted to it for a while, the strong scent when they get near it would deter them.
They can be planted around the yard, but it would be a more potent insect or bee and wasp deterrent if it is mixed with lime, eucalyptus, or cinnamon either as potpourri for the home, as essential oil or shred them in a mix to be distributed around the yard.
This one is a popular insect repellant. It deters mosquitoes, mites, fleas, even bees and wasps. It has a strong citronella scent which overpowers the sense of smell of these insects. Because of its flashy colors, bee species, specifically honeybees, would still swarm around it for nectar. It is a beautiful landscape plant that is easy to plant and thrives even with no care.
13. Rue plant
It is both an underrated herb and insect repellent. The rue plant deters bees, wasps, and other insects because its leaves have a bitter taste, and its smell is pungent thanks to its oil coated glands.
Other than this, its flowers are very small and insignificant, so bees are not naturally attracted to it. It is easy to propagate and is hated by bees, wasps, fleas, as well as fruit flies.
14. Lemon balm
This fruity, refreshing, and citrusy plant is a good addition in your garden bed as it could be used in sprucing up cooked dishes, salads, healthy water and in cocktails. Because of its powerful smell, it is a natural deterrent to wasps and hornets as well as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and other stinging insects. Have it around the garden or take it as potted plants.
This one is a cousin of many strong-scented herbs like chives, shallots, garlic, leeks, and scallions. As such, it deters wasps, flies, as well as worms and slugs but unfortunately, not bees because of its colorful blooms.
You can plant them in between your herb and flower garden. They are, however, toxic to furry pets so that is a downside that you have to consider.
16. Floss flower
This bright, annual flowering plant is only attractive to bees for its nectar. But its strong smell caused by the chemical coumarin, naturally repels mosquitoes, wasps, and other insects and pests. Bees cannot swarm around it for long because of this strong smell too.
17. Red roses
We have previously mentioned that bees are colorblind to red. As such, red roses and other dark colored roses tend to deter bees because they cannot see them. If you are particularly eliminating bees around, go for red roses. But if it is wasps and other insects that you want out of the garden, go for highly scented roses.
What smells do wasps hate?
Aromatic, minty, citrusy, and essentially any overpowering or strong scents are hated smells by wasps. This is the common denominator of almost all the plants featured here. Other scents that these insects hate would be the following:
- Soap scent
What plants attract bees and wasps?
It is equally important to know which plants attract bees and wasps so that you can make a conscious judgment in not planting them around the yard. As such, here are some of the most attractive plants for bees and wasps.
- Borage: It is popularly known as the bee bush. It is a traditional medicinal herb with bright, flashy flowers.
- Rosemary: Aromatic and medicinal, this one has flowers that bees love and a scent that wasps can tolerate.
- Catnip: It does not just lure bees and wasps but also our feline friends.
- Flowering currant: During spring, this is one of the favorite plants of bees, butterflies, birds, and other pollinators.
- Pussy willows: This is one of those plants that really come with a lot of pollen. Bees are naturally attracted to this plant.
- Crocus: The subtle blue and purple flowers of this plant is a favorite for bees. Because it does not have a strong smell, wasps can also swarm around it.
- Sunflowers: Aside from its bright flowers and sweet smell, this flowering plant is also a favorite of bees and butterflies because it contains lots of pollen. It is also a famous plant among birds because of its high quality, abundant seeds.
- Echinacea: Also goes with the name coneflowers, these late bloomers are loved by bees and other insects.
- Hyacinth: It should not be a wonder why this plant made it to this list. Those large, colorful blooms are the favorite of bees and other pollinators.
- Lilacs: The pollen and nectar of the delicate lilac plant is one of the favorites of bees, butterflies, and birds.
How about wasps? What types of plants are they attracted to? Here are some of the plants that wasps, particularly love.
- Sweet fennel
- Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot)
Does peppermint keep wasps away?
Yes. You can plant them around the yard, keep a potted one inside the home or make an essential oil out of it. You can try this simple solution to help you in your wasp problem.
- Prepare a spray bottle and put in a few drops of peppermint oil along with a minimal amount of dish soap.
- Fill the remaining space with water and then shake the solution well.
- Spray the solution in wasp nests if you have located them, or around entryways like window sills, holes, and crevices.
What yard maintenance steps should be done to keep wasps away?
Yard and garden maintenance are very essential in keeping unwanted insects away especially those stinging ones like bees and wasps. Here are some yard maintenance tips that you can employ to keep the wasps and bees away from the garden.
- Plan your landscape: Design your landscape in such a way that the planters and garden boxes for the flowers are not near the house. Distribute these flowering plants on the estate outskirts like in the patio, the poolside, etc.
- Employ weed control: Although weeds do not produce flashy flowers, they could still be used as a niche by wasps and bees, among others. For this reason, you must regularly pull-out unwanted plants from the garden.
- Eliminate standing water: Like mosquitoes, wasps are attracted to still water. If you live near a lake, have a pond in your estate or water puddles are around your vicinity, make sure that no stagnant water is around.
- Avoid sticky food residues: Sticky and colorful foods naturally attract bees, ants, wasps, and other insects. Crumbs and spills usually attract them inside the home or around the places where the leftovers are taken.
- Pest control: More than anything else, you must come up with the most strategic pest control for your garden to lure out bees, wasps, and other insects from the landscape. You can also, instead, search for bird species that feed on wasps and other harmful insects.
What should I do to keep ground bees away from the home?
The sting of ground bees could be particularly fatal and to avoid that, here are some tips that you can do to keep them away from the home aside from the list of plants that you can add to your garden.
- Use commercial bee sprays: These sprays are specifically designed to target the central nervous system of bees. When ingested by them, it could lead to paralysis and eventually, death.
- Powder dust: Insecticidal powder, perhaps, is the best way to eliminate ground bees as well as wasps once and for all because you can directly apply this in their nests. Like bee sprays, it suffocates them and then paralyses them, leading to death. Buy a duster along with the product for you to have a safe application.
- Bee zapper: If you just want to deter them from entering the home, you can install a bee zapper in your door. This one does not emit any harmful substance and purely works on electromagnetic rays to zap bees and other insects before they could enter the home. The light from the zapper attracts the insects in but they will be electrocuted in the process. Most zappers are also waterproof so you can use them even if it is raining outside.
- Vinegar solution: If you are not a fan of chemicals, the all-natural vinegar and water solution is the best bee spray out there. Its strong smell attacks the respiratory system of bees, leading to suffocation and then death.
- Mothballs: The vapor coming from mothballs is a scent that bees really hate. It does not just drive bees out of the home but also kills them in the process.
- Install bee traps: They need not be elaborate bee traps. A sticky bee trap can be one way to do it. Another is putting up small jugs with water and a bee hole to lure them in. You can also put a vinegar or soap solution in the water to kill the trapped bees.
- Cinnamon powder: If you want to force bees to relocate, you can pour cinnamon powder around their beehives. The scent of cinnamon is just unattractive to bees, and this has been a proven solution in making the bees relocate.
- Get the sprinklers on: Small patches in the ground is an indication that you have a swarm of ground bees around. Because they hate water, it would not only drown them but would also force them to relocate elsewhere.
Do wasps kill bees?
Interestingly, yellow jacket wasps and hornets are the top predators of bees. As a matter of fact, some species of wasps specifically target honeybees, attacking their beehives every now and then. This is the reason why honey bee growers are very attuned to wasp seasons because wasps hinder the honey production.
Why are wasps dangerous?
Wasps are considered dangerous because they are territorial and any movement around their nests would make them aggressive, stinging people and critters for no reason. They are also considered as more fatal than bees because they do not die after they sting their victim, meaning that they can sting you several times.
If you think that you have been stung by a wasp or if you are experiencing allergic reactions to wasp stings, call for immediate rescue because you can be killed through anaphylactic shock. Nonetheless, it is said that an adult can withstand up to 1000 wasp stings, but a child can be killed with 500 stings from wasps.
Are honey bees dangerous?
Yes, honeybees are also dangerous like wasps. One sting from honeybees can result in raised welts and a painful one for that matter. This is because of the venom carried by the bee sting. While most people could survive a bee sting, those that have allergies can die of anaphylactic shock.
Are bees aggressive to humans?
Yes. They follow a cyclic nature and aggression is one of these behaviors, especially during summer and fall. The reasons behind this would be the following:
- Having lost a queen could cause a colony of bees to become aggressive to humans.
- Nectar dearth or having a low amount of gathered nectar also causes aggression.
- Beehive robbing is the most common cause of bee aggression.
- Activation of their alarm pheromone due to different reasons.
- Rainy weather, winter, and high humidity can activate their aggressive nature.
To conclude, there are sets of plants that are deterrent specifically to bees and wasps but if you want to make a barrier for these two insects at once, choose plants that are deterrent to both, and the list here proves that you have a lot of plants to choose from for that job.
From what we have covered here, it is understood that to lure out these stinging insects, you must confuse them with color and overpower them with scent. There are also yard maintenance drills that you must master to keep them off the yard once and for all.