11 Reasons Why Bees Won’t Usually Leave on Their Own
Just like picnics, ice cream, and days at the pool, bees are a regular part of any summer day. Buzzing around flowers, these winged creatures may not pose a problem at first. But what about when you see many of them – will those bees leave on their own?
Bees generally won’t leave if they have food sources, they’ve built a nest, or if it’s the wrong time for them to be active. They also might be particularly attracted to your property due to the type of plants available or if there are safe places for them to make a new home.
Interested in learning why bees might hang out in your yard or home? Let’s get into the main 11 reasons as to why bees may (or may not) leave on their own!
Bees Generally Stay in One Place
Bees don’t travel as much as people think.
More specifically, researchers from Fordham University and Oregon State University found that bumblebees in New York City were more likely to stay and forage in their original gardens, rather than move to another garden.
Taking that down a few levels for our sake, instead of visiting various lawns and gardens, bees tend to stick to one yard, especially if there’s plenty of food to eat and they can build their nest nearby.
So what does this mean for you? Unfortunately, once a bee moves in, it’s unlikely to move on unless you give them a convincing reason to do so. Especially if you have some delicious flowers out there!
Why Bees May (Or May Not) Leave On Their Own
The answer to this question is “Sometimes!”. A lot depends on whether you see an individual bee or a swarm. Individual bees are likely coming from a colony.
They will stick around wherever they can find resources (a fancy way of saying blooming flowers), returning to their nest to bring pollen and support their queen.
If you see a large group of bees in the area, however, you’re likely spotting a swarm instead of a solitary worker. This happens when a colony gets too big, and a group of bees (and sometimes the old queen) splits from the main group. Whether the swarm leaves by itself or not depends on a few different factors.
Here are some of the main reasons bees won’t leave on their own once their on your yard:
The Bees Are Swarming In Search Of A New Colony
According to Clemson’s Home & Garden Information Center, when a bee colony grows too big in numbers for their home (specifically honey bees), this signals to the entire colony that it’s time to swarm!
When they do swarm, bees will depart their colony, often landing in trees or other protected areas. Then, one scout bee will search for a new place to build their home.
Although scary, swarms don’t typically pose a huge threat, and often they’ll only stick around for a short amount of time before moving on. If the scout bee decides your home or property looks like a good place to start over, though, you may be in for a long-term bee problem that needs to be taken care of.
You’ve got A Lone bee Scouting Your Yard
It’s not just swarms of bees that hang around, however. It’s also not unusual to find solitary bees around your home and in your yard.
Simply put, these are bees that have left the hive and are pretty much loners!
Otherwise, these solitary bees could be searching for food, a scout bee looking for someplace to build a new home, or non-colony type of bee that naturally lives its life in solitude and without a large group nearby as support.
If you do find a solitary bee and your yard has whatever the bee is looking for (namely, a safe place to live or flowers that they can feed on) – you can be sure the bee won’t be in a hurry to move on anytime soon.
You may just find that this is just the start of your bee problems!
They’ve Found Someplace to Build
Although you may have seen traditional honeybee hives hanging from trees, the truth is that bees will happily live anywhere they can find a safe, protected space.
Honeybees and solitary bees often build their homes in abandoned buildings, inside walls or crevices, in unused cars, or inside barbecues and grills. They also may build in protected areas in hollowed-out trees or inside playground equipment.
Bumblebees are a little different than other types of bees and choose to make their nests or burrows in the ground, meaning they can build just about anywhere.
This means that if you have any of these spaces on your property, you risk a bee finding it and making it their new digs. And once they move in, these tenants are often hard to evict!
If this sounds like your situation, take a look at our guide on what to do if you have bees in your wall!
New Bees Are Finding Signs Other Bees
Even if they haven’t started to build, you might find that bees are hanging around your home because they’re on the hunt for a new place.
Of course, we’ve already covered that scout bees are responsible for finding where to start the next nest. However, even if they don’t find somewhere suitable, you still may have a future bee problem on your hands.
When swarms land, they tend to leave behind small bits of beeswax. Unfortunately, this will attract other bees in the future, meaning that you’ll have repeated (and unwanted) visitors to your home for some time to come.
Even worse, if it’s late in the season or the scout bee has failed to find a safe location, the swarm may simply choose to build wherever it currently is.
According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, bees that don’t find new nesting locations start leave these small bits of beeswax and combs in odd places. Then, they become essentially an open colony without an actual hive.
This can include tree limbs, house and porch corners, and other places close to your home! Ultimately, this may be where the NEXT colony takes place on your property.
The good news is that predators such as birds and poor weather will often take care of these colonies for you. The bad news is that this typically doesn’t happen until later in the fall, meaning you may be stuck with a yard full of bees in the meantime.
Bees Move Hives Or Leave During The Spring
Swarms tend to depart the hive early in the spring, so if you suddenly find new bees in your yard, this may be why.
You may see another surge in the late summer as they can have a secondary transition season. However, these late bloomer swarms typically do not survive long-term due to a lack of resources and protection from the elements.
There Are Lots of Things for Them to Eat
Bees are attracted to flowers that may offer them pollen or nectar to harvest. The more flowers in one location, the more likely it will be to find bees, as their goal is to expend as little energy as possible in the hunt for resources.
Even if you don’t have flowers in your yard, you may have something else the bee finds enticing. For example, some species of bee are drawn by the chemicals released when wood rots or certain types of fungi.
If you have a large property filled with different types of vegetation, your yard might look a little too tasty for any bees to move on.
The Weather is Influencing Them
Changing weather conditions are highly reflective of a bee colonies likeliness to swarm, according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
Simply put, this means that the weather may be encouraging bees to be on the move into your yard, or it may be discouraging them from leaving.
Also, most bees have some type of wintering process. Although not a true hibernation, bees may gather in hives or nests to stay warm or continue their natural life cycle through the winter, with new pupae arriving in the spring.
Although you may not see any of these bees, they will still be present and won’t leave their homes (or yours) willingly during this time.
It’s The Wrong Time of Day
Bees are most active on warm, sunny days in the late morning and early afternoon hours (sometime around 10-2 PM in the spring, summer, and early fall).
So if it’s early in the morning, in the evenings, or at night, bees won’t be as active, meaning they won’t be interested in leaving on their own.
You Have a Ground-Level Garden
If you live in an urban area and you have a home on the ground floor, studies show that bees will prefer your space over any rooftop garden options.
So even though there may be plenty of flowers and plants available, bees will want to hang out in your home rather than traveling up high.
You Have a Lot of Green Space Around
Bees prefer big farms, yards, or other areas with plenty of green space.
This may be due to the better availability of plants, places to live, or for other yet unknown reasons.
If you have a big yard and property, bees might prefer your home over more densely populated areas, especially if you have the only (or biggest) greenspace in the neighborhood!
You Have a Variety of Plants
Although it depends on what type of bee is hanging around (honeybee, bumblebee, etc.), there may be some evidence to suggest that bees like a mix of native and non-native flowers, and plenty of diversity in each of these categories.
So if you have a lot of different flowers to choose from (as well as different flowering times and lengths), there may be more pollen and nectar available to bees, encouraging them to hang around your yard more than your neighbors.
Bees Can Survive on Their Own
If they have the resources and an established colony, an average honeybee lifespan lasts around a month.
Even without a queen nearby to support them, individual bees can survive 4-6 weeks. This means that even if a hive collapses, individual bees will continue with their work!
Swarms are different, lasting 24-36 hours, depending on the weather and time of day (although the bees themselves will last much longer than this). At that point, they’ll either move on or choose to remain and begin manufacturing a new nest.
Some bees, though, are solitary types and don’t need any buddies. They build their nests in cracks and crevices and can live up to six weeks, laying plenty of eggs in that time.
This all means that if you spot a bee in your yard, it may be one of many, or it may be a bee used to living alone. Whatever it is, it probably won’t be leaving anytime soon.
What Can You Do to Get Bees to Leave?
The first step in convincing bees to leave is to remove the reason they’re staying!
This may mean removing their home, eliminating food sources, or using a combination of techniques and products to discourage them from hanging around.
Here are a few ways you can help get bees to leave:
Remove Their Nest
First, if you need to remove a large number of bees, you can contact a Pest Pro rather than attempting this on your own. Someone who regularly deals with bees will know the safest and most efficient ways to remove them.
Although it’s highly recommended you contact a professional to remove any nest, colonies, or swarms you might find, there are a few options if you’d like to attempt removal yourself
One of them is this Honeybee Swarm Trap, which essentially traps the swarm inside! You could set this up in discussions with a beekeeper as well.
Remember though, honeybees are important for the environment and help us out quite a bit by pollinating. Try giving a local beekeeper a call to remove them first.
Prevent Them from Leaving
If you cannot remove their hive, nest, or burrow due to location or safety reasons, you can also seal the bees in, preventing them from accessing outside resources.
If you do go this route, be aware that the bees will attempt to escape. If you find any loose in your home, deal with them at night when they’re less active, vacuuming up any loose bees and dealing with them accordingly.
While we don’t prefer this method, it’s ideal if you have bees in a room or attic where you can’t have them coming into your home.
While they’re less active during the night, you can read more about what bees do during the day to know where you’re most likely to find them!
Discourage Them from Coming Back
If you grow a big garden, bees will likely hang around.
But, you can help limit the number (and how long they stay) by planting flowers with short blooming times or varieties that bees don’t particularly like.
If you’ve identified somewhere bees like to live, you may want to take preventative measures once you’ve dealt with any nests: Caulk or screen over holes into buildings, regularly inspect abandoned areas, and thoroughly cover equipment.
You may also want to use scents like citrus, citronella, or cinnamon to keep them away! These natural scents disrupt their scent patter and thus, keep them away.
Check out our guide on the scents that bees hate to learn more!
Take Care of Stragglers
If you find bees in your home or you can’t get them to leave you alone outside, there are a few products you might want to consider. First, you may choose to use any of the scents we listed in the last section.
You may also want to try Exterminator’s Choice Bee & Wasp Defense, a great non-toxic option for dealing with bees inside or out.
You also may want to place a few Flying Insect Traps for Bees around places you frequent, like decks and patios.
These traps can help catch single bees that may be scouting your yard, or searching for food, helping discourage other bees from following behind. You may even want to use these traps near entryways, garages, or mudrooms to stop bees from entering your home.
And, if you keep finding bees inside your house, you may want to check out our article on the reasons why you keep getting bees inside your house here!
That’s a Wrap!
Bees may hang around because you have resources around your home that they are interested in or because it’s the wrong time of year or day for them to move.
But the good news is that you can take steps to get them to leave and stop them from coming back in the future. With a little bit of knowledge, you can confidently deal with any bees you run into in your yard or home!
Batra, Suzanne WT. “Solitary bees.” Scientific American 250.2 (1984): 120-127.
Jay, S. C. “Spatial management of honeybees on crops.” Bee World 67.3 (1986): 98-113.
Rahimi, Ehsan, Shahindokht Barghjelveh, and Pinliang Dong. “A review of the diversity of bees, the attractiveness of host plants and the effects of landscape variables on bees in urban gardens.” Agriculture & Food Security 11.1 (2022): 1-11.
Whitten, W. Mark, Allen M. Young, and David L. Stern. “Nonfloral sources of chemicals that attract male euglossine bees (Apidae: Euglossini).” Journal of Chemical Ecology 19.12 (1993): 3017-3027.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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