What is the best way to get rid of sweat bees?
Sweat bees, also known as Halictidae family bees, are a type of solitary bee. They live all over the world in the form of thousands of different species.
Because they are highly attracted to human sweat for our salt content, they are considered pests. During certain times of the year, they will incessantly fly around and land on people trying to enjoy the outdoors.
This article discusses how to get rid of sweat bees using three highly effective methods.
Sweat bees are usually recognizable by their behavior and small size.
Sweat bees are generally small, ranging in size from about 3 to 10 millimeters in length, and they can be found in a variety of colors, including metallic green, blue, and bronze.
They are typically solitary bees, meaning they do not live in large colonies like honeybees. Instead, they build individual nests in the ground or in small cavities in wood or rock.
Like other bees, they still collect pollen to feed their young and even consume nectar from flowers, but they don’t make honey. They are important pollinators of many types of plants, including fruits, vegetables, and wildflowers.
Some species of sweat bees are also used as bioindicators of environmental health, meaning that changes in their population numbers or behavior can indicate changes in the quality of their habitat.
How to Get Rid of Sweat Bees
Unfortunately, because sweat bees like to hang around and land on people to mine them for salt, they are often unwanted.
While sweat bees are generally not aggressive and will only sting if provoked, they can be a nuisance to people who are particularly sensitive to insect bites.
If you find that sweat bees are landing on you and you would like to avoid getting stung, it’s best to wear light-colored clothing, avoid wearing perfumes or scented lotions, and move slowly and calmly when around them.
There are 3 ways to get rid of sweat bees:
- Repel them
- Trap them
- Kill them
We always recommend using non-lethal methods first. It’s better for everyone, including the environment, the bees, and you, so if you can repel sweat bees, this is preferable.
You can also do certain things to discourage them from hanging around. Many people wonder ‘Do LED lights attract bugs?’ They can do, and this could be part of the reason sweat bees are pestering you. Removing things that draw them in is a great first step toward getting rid of them.
Trapping sweat bees may also be better than some methods of killing them. Killing sweat bees often requires poisons. Insecticides can cause a lot of collateral damage to other beneficial species in your garden. That said, here are the different products and methods you can use to get rid of sweat bees.
How To Repel Sweat Bees
Using a repellent is the most humane way to get rid of sweat bees that are annoying you.
Repellants based on dichlorvos – a toxic compound with a short residual action – are the most effective against sweat bees. Alternatively, you can use a universal repellant that’s proven effective to keep away wasps, moths, and other pests.
If you’re on board with the repellant idea, why not give the Hot Shot No-Pest Strip a try?
This versatile repelling strip works on:
- Flies and moths
- And various other pests
You can hang it up in garages, attics, sheds, patios, porches, and so on.
The controlled-release technology provides continuous protection for up to 4 months. This strip releases odorless vapor, and it doesn’t take up much room. With dichlorvos as an active ingredient, this strip will help you get rid of annoying sweat bees.
Other natural products can be used as a deterrent for sweat bees. The scent of patchouli is one such example. Patchouli is a flowering perennial herb that can be bought as an essential oil. Diffusing this oil can help get rid of sweat bees, gnats, and other flying insects.
Another option is to use a natural insect repellent that contains ingredients like citronella, peppermint, or eucalyptus. These oils are known to have insect-repelling properties and may help to deter sweat bees from landing on you.
You could also try a natural insecticide like neem oil, which is derived from the neem tree and has been shown to be effective against a wide range of insects, including bees.
Neem oil can be mixed with water and sprayed on areas where you are experiencing a lot of sweat bee activity.
Sweat Bee Trap
Using a sweat bee trap is an alternative to a repellant.
Traps are a popular method, especially when numbers start to increase. If sweat bees nest on your property and become intrusive, traps will help. The downside of using traps to get rid of sweat bees is that they a non-discriminant. They will capture other insects as well.
To eliminate bees this way, you need to look for traps designed for regular bees or wasps. Don’t necessarily pick a unique sweat bee trap.
The W-H-Y Wasp Trap, for example, is a reliable choice for catching sweat bees.
It features double-entry yellow jacket traps to increase the chance of attracting more bees inside the trap. Just fill the container with a sweet solution (such as syrup or sugary water) and hang it outside where the bees are most active.
How To Kill Sweat Bees
As a last resort, some may need to kill sweat bees.
Keep in mind that killing sweat bees is an extreme solution that should be avoided unless the situation is dire. Killing sweat bees on contact requires using insecticides that contain prallethrin. This chemical compound belongs to the pyrethroids group, and it’s highly toxic to bees.
The BASF Wasp-Freeze II can effectively kill bees and wasps on contact within 15 feet. This spray’s active component is prallethrin, which is very toxic to bees, as well as other insects in the environment (nor is it good for us to inhale)!
These methods should only be used outdoors rather than inside. That’s one of the benefits of a sweat bee infestation over a gnat infestation, getting rid of gnats can be harder because the use of sprays indoors isn’t recommended.
Where do Sweat Bees Live?
Similar to many bee species, sweat bees are found all over the world.
However, they are in large numbers in North and Latin America. In fact, there are over a thousand different identified species in the United States and Canada alone.
Unlike honey bees or carpenter bees, sweat bees are ground nesters and can be considered a type of ground bee like Bumblebees and Mining bees.
Ground bees prefer to build their nests in sunny, dry soil areas, which is why they can nest in your backyard. However, if the conditions aren’t ideal, they can still use trees for nesting.
Do Sweat Bees Sting?
Sweat bees generally won’t sting a human, as they’re not an aggressive species. However, they will sting if necessary. If you disturb or threaten a sweat bee nest, they will try to attack with stings as a form of defense similar to regular honey bees.
However, their stings aren’t harmful and won’t transmit any dangerous diseases to you or your pets. They may cause some allergic reactions if you’re hypersensitive to insect bites.
They can be a major annoyance at times. For example, hammock campers are at a higher risk of being exposed to sweat bees because their shelter doesn’t seal around them completely.
A hammock with a mosquito net can prevent this from happening, keeping both the camper and the bee safe.
What Attracts Sweat Bees?
It’s our sweat that attracts sweat bees to our BBQs, picnics, and sports events.
If you can persevere through the periods when they’re at their worst without resorting to killing them, that’s great. Remember that these insects help pollinate our gardens, so resort to lethal means when there’s no other option.
We want to attract bees into our gardens. However, less annoying species, such as Mason bees, are preferable!