What Smells Do Bees Hate?

Even if a honeybee is a couple of miles away, it will still be able to smell a specific toxin or flower. A bee’s sense of smell is so acute, about 100 times more sensitive than a human’s sense of smell! Are you wondering what type of smells bees hate?

Bees are naturally drawn to sweet smells and hate the smell of peppermint, citronella, geranium, Eugenol (also known as clove oil), eucalyptus, rosemary, Cedarwood, citrus, vinegar spray, and especially garlic. Knowing what smells bees dislike is essential in case of emergencies.

Now that you know the smells bees highly dislike, it is essential that you use these smells in the correct way. Let’s take a more complicated look at these different smells, why bees dislike them, and how you can use them to your advantage!

How Good Is A Bee’s Nose?

A bee’s sense of smell is so good that studies have shown that bees can sniff out the scent of a developing cancer tumor to help give an early diagnosis. You’d be surprised to hear that honeybees don’t use their nose to smell but their antennae.

They use their antennae to detect odors from miles away. According to recent studies by the National Institutes of Health, honey bees have over 170 different smell receptors, also known as chemoreceptors, in their antennae.

This is unusually high for an insect, as fruit flies have only about 62 receptors, while mosquitos have 79 receptors.

The honey bee’s sense of smell has evolved so much that they are able to detect the trace of a scent while they are flying! The honey bee’s fantastic sense of smell equips them to effectively and efficiently locate where pollen-rich flowers are.

Once they have detected the scent and the location of the scent on their antennae, the bees’ overly sensitive olfactory path processes the information, much like a computer! This enables the bee to determine the relevance of this scent to its search for pollen!

Besides finding food and pollen, honey bees also use their excellent sense of smell to locate other bees!

First, What Smells Do Bees Like?

Most bees tend to feed on the nectar from flowers. Because nectar is naturally sweet, it only makes sense that bees will be attracted to sugary fragrances that have a sweet and flowery undertone.

This is why you might notice bees hanging out with you on your picnic, especially if you’re eating fruits like watermelon and pineapple and drinking sweet juice or sodas! In addition to this, scents like perfumes, sunscreen, hair products, or lotion that is overly sweet will attract bees like a moth to a flame!

So if you’re wearing any of these fragrances, don’t be surprised when a bee mistakes you for a flower!

If you are interested in getting your own hive, I’ve written an article about “How to attract bees to a hive” that your can read here.

The article will open in a new tab so you can continue reading this one.

10 Different Smells That Bees Hate

Now that you know precisely what smells your stinger friends prefer, it’s time to learn about the smells they highly dislike.

It doesn’t matter if you want to use these scents to repel some bees or wonder why bees are not visiting your garden. If you want to attract bees with one of these smells present, you will undoubtedly fail.

I think you will be interested to read my article on “How to keep bees away” that will explain in great detail on many differant ways of keeping bees away. You can read it here.

The article will open in a new tab so you can continue reading this one.

Take A Small Peek At The List Below To Find Out 10 Of The Smells Bees Hate:

  1. The Smell Of Peppermint

Peppermint is one of the several types of plants bees will always try to avoid as much as they can. However, peppermint will not repel bees in more extensive areas as the smell becomes too diluted.

If you only prefer to keep specific parts of your yard, your house, or even yourself away from bees, you can use a peppermint plant or even peppermint essential oil.

The best thing is that peppermint essential oil is one of the most popular essential oils for daily use in people, and the fact that bees hate it is even better!

If you effectively want to use peppermint essential oil, you can simply dip pieces of cotton in the essential oil bottle and place them in the areas you want the bees to avoid.

It is advised to use an all-natural peppermint essential oil without added chemicals or preservatives.

If you have a lot of peppermint plants in your garden and you’re left wondering why bees don’t like your flowers, you have just found the reason!

  • The Smell Of Citronella

I’m sure you have heard of citronella oil before. Citronella oil is extremely popular and is the main component in most mosquito repellents.

However, citronella is an excellent choice for keeping bees away because they absolutely hate the sour smell—citronella is an extracted form of an Asian grass plant known as Cymbopogon.

The only downside when you decide to use citronella smells to keep bees away is that you might have to use it much more often than other types of smells. You can decide to use citronella oil, but it also tends to not stay as fragrant for more extended periods of time than other types of essential oils.

If you decide to use citronella, you can dilute it with water and dip some cotton balls in the solution. Using cotton balls with citronella will make it last for longer, but only for small areas. If this fails, you can use an oil-based bee repellent that consists of citronella smells.

Even if you purchase a citronella-based bee repellent, you will have to spray it on specific areas because it could very quickly get costly.

  • The Smell Of Geranium

Bees absolutely despise the smell of a Geranium plant or essential oil. They mainly dislike the concentrated version, which is, of course, the essential oil form. It is made from extracted from the leaves of the Geranium plant.

Being native to South Africa, Geranium oil is a very popular bee repellant in several areas. When deciding to use this essential oil as a bee repellent for your backyard, you won’t have to soak the leaves.

The leaves have an extremely potent smell, and you only need a small cotton ball’s worth. Geranium’s potent smell will last longer on its leaves, so it will be easy to keep certain areas of your house or backyard bee-free!

It is advised to use pure Geranium oil for repelling any unwanted bees because it is an all-natural product with a blend that doesn’t consist of additives or fillers. You can simply dip a few cotton balls in the solution until you feel like the scent is strong enough.

If you have a Geranium plant in your backyard and you’re considering starting the hobby of beekeeping, I would strongly advise you to remove it.

I think you will be interested to read my article on “How to keep bees away” that will explain in great detail on many differant ways of keeping bees away. You can read it here.

The article will open in a new tab so you can continue reading this one.
  • The Smell Of Eugenol (Also Known As Clove Oil)

The name might almost sound like it’s suggesting an extremely harmful chemical, but don’t fret! This essential oil is also known as Clove oil.

This essential oil works for so many things, including repelling bees. It is also a very effective repellent against any other unwanted insects in your backyard or house!

If you’re using it to steer some bees away from certain plants, you can dilute it with some water and use a plastic spray bottle to spray it on your plants. The smell will leave a very subtle scent on your plants, and the bees will not come near it.

It’s advised to use a natural clove essential oil as it is both natural and comes in cost-efficient sizes!

You will also receive the option to purchase this clove essential oil product in bulk, which could be beneficial if you have a massive garden or backyard you want to protect from bees!

  • The Smell Of Eucalyptus

The Eucalyptus plant seems to release a scent that smells very similar to peppermint. Eucalyptus and peppermint have several uses and are effective repellents for unwanted bees.

Although eucalyptus plants will repel bees, it won’t nearly work as well on your other plants if you’re not going to apply it directly onto them. Hundreds of essential oils are readily available on the market that you can use for this combination.

However, it is highly advised that you use a USDA organic-certified essential oil product, as you can be sure you will be getting high-quality of the real thing!

  • The Smell Of Rosemary

Rosemary is known as a natural bee repellent plant that is highly effective when you want to keep bees away. Its scent is so potent that you don’t even need to purchase its essential oil to stop bees from entering your garden, backyard, or house!

You can simply grow a beautiful rosemary plant and place it on top of your windowsill, and bees won’t even dare to cross the threshold! However, if you’re in need of a plan to repel bees in larger areas, you may have to use quite a few cotton balls completely drenched in the rosemary essential oil.

You can also choose to apply it directly to the leaves to steer bees away from visiting your garden. There are two different ways you can make use of rosemary essential oil to keep any bees away from specific areas.

You can either dilute it in a bit of water or spray it on the leaves.

You can also use small cotton balls dipped in the oil and place them in areas where you want to keep bees away. These two different methods will release a very unappealing scent to the bees and stop them from visiting you immediately!

  • The Smell Of Cedarwood

Bees hate the smell of cedar lumber. Funny enough, cedar lumber is one of the primary materials for beekeeping. Still, its essential oil gives off a woody scent that bees tend to avoid altogether, as the scent does not resemble the smell of flowers.

If you want to repel some bees, you can spray a bit of cedarwood essential oil on some plant leaves. However, it would be good to note that you will need to frequently respray the areas to maintain its effectiveness as a repellent.

  • The Smell Of Citrus

If you’re looking for a safe repellent to steer those unwanted bees away, I suggest any orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, or citrus essential oil.

All of these oils will release a very potent smell that bees hate, and combining all of them will create a super substance that will force the bees to move to a different location!

Everyone doesn’t favor the smell of citrus, and it can change the entire atmosphere of your backyard or home. However, you have the choice to dilute the citrus essential oils in water in order to make it less intrusive.

You may have to get a little on the creative side of things when you decide on combining all of these different citrus flavored oils to produce a more repelling scent to the bees.

  • The Smell Of Garlic

Garlic has been the solution to get rid of bees as well as other unwanted insects or pests for decades! You simply sprinkle some garlic powder near your windows. You can even crush garlic cloves and leave them in your garden.

If you’re looking for another method to use garlic to repel bees, you can chop some up and let it soak in a glass of water for a few days.

After a few days, you can then take that glass of water and place it near you to keep the bees from getting into your personal space!

  1. The Smell Of Vinegar/Vinegar Spray

Lastly, you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that vinegar is one of the most hated smells to bees! You can simply mix equal parts of water and vinegar and place the mixture into a plastic spray bottle.

During the dight, you can spray the vinegar on the bees in their nest, but you will have to make use of protective gear and be cautious of protective or agitated bees!

However, it would be good to note that a vinegar mixture is lethal to the bees, and the process may have to be repeated several times to remove the entire swarm of bees. It would be best to try other repellents before resorting to vinegar spray.

Bees are essential to our environment, as well as our quality of life, so killing them might not be such a considerable idea!

Did you know that a smoker could help calm the bees? If you are interested, I have written an article on “Do bee smokers and suits work on wasps” that you can read here.

The article will open in a new tab so you can continue reading this one.

Conclusion

Now that you know what smells bees hate, you are sure to never have an unwanted bee problem in your home, backyard, or garden ever again!

However, if you are a bee lover such as myself, you will also know why bees tend not to visit your garden. You can simply move certain plants that bees don’t like or remove them altogether.

Jaco Stander

My name is Jaco Stander. I’m from Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a registered beekeeper with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development in South Africa. Registration number WC808. I live on a small holding where I keep my 16 beehives. Taking care of bees is a very rewarding feeling, contributing to keep our bee colonies growing and thriving, and as a bonus, enjoying that sweet pure raw honey!

You may also like...