Bees are essential to the survival of hundreds of plant species, but these beneficial pollinators can become a nuisance when they show up at your Memorial Day cookout. Bee stings also present a serious danger to young children and those who are allergic. Because worldwide bee populations are in decline, it is important to avoid harming these important insects while protecting your guests.
Commercial bee repellent is a very effective method to keep bees away. Repellent spray can be applied to most surfaces, such as clothing, table clothes and folding chairs. Attach clip-on repellents to clothing or sun shades to keep bees away without the risk of getting spray in food and drinks. More cost effective alternatives are dryer sheets and moth balls.
Chemical-based insect repellents come with a few health risks, but there are many natural ways to shoo bees away from your barbecue. Cloves and clove oil are very effective at deterring bees. Cut lemons in half, dot them with cloves and place them around your picnic table, or fill reed diffusers with clove oil. Bees also hate the scent of cucumbers. Slice a few and use them to garnish your favorite dishes.
Challenge the Bees' Territory
Another option for deterring bees is to put up hive decoys. Bees are territorial insects and will not visit an area with an existing hive. You can purchase a hive decoy, but objects that mimic a hive can be just as effective. Filling a brown paper bag with air, tying the end and hanging it from a tree will convince most bees that they are trespassing on another hive's territory.
Attract Bees to Another Area
If you can't repel the bees away from your get-together, try attracting them to another area. Bees love sugar water, and it's easy to make. Beekeepers use different ratios of sugar and water to encourage different behaviors in their bees, but for simply attracting bees a 1:1 ratio works great. Place the mixture in shallow jars or hummingbird feeders 10-20 feet away from your picnic area.
Professional Hive Removal
The most effective way to deal with a bee problem is to have the hive relocated by professionals. Never try to remove or relocate a hive yourself. Bees can injure or kill a person when defending their hive, and you also risk damaging or destroying the hive. Call a trusted pest control service, such as Gibson Pest Control, if you see a beehive near your home.