9 Scents That Bees Hate (And How To Use Them)

Close up of honey bee on the clover flower in the green field. Good for banner. Green background.

Bees are vital for the environment, but that doesn’t mean we should share our homes with them. If you’ve noticed an uptick in the bees around your yard, you might be wondering if there are effective yet simple ways to deter them from getting too close.

Bees have a much better sense of smell than humans, which they use to find pollination sources. You can use this trait to your advantage by utilizing scents that bees hate such as lemon and lime juice, citronella, cinnamon, peppermint, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, almond oil, smoke, and vinegar.

Before we explore the scents that bees hate, it’s wise to understand why you should deter bees away from your house. Keep reading for some reasons on why and how you should keep bees away using scents!

Just to add – when you shop using links from Pest Pointers, we may earn affiliate commissions if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Why You Should Keep Bees Away 

Bees flying

It’s no question that the world needs bees. Bees are responsible for pollinating crops that produce some of the food we put on our plates at night. We depend on bees for over half of the world’s food production.

Bees are considered the most vital insect pollinators and rely solely on nectar and pollen for food. Unfortunately, bees are vulnerable to extinction, so it’s crucial to be cautious while taking the necessary steps to deter bees from your home.

However, they don’t serve the same benefits when they begin to invade our homes. Bees can cause significant damage in and around our property, so it’s vital to understand keeping them away from these areas. 

Unlike wasps, bees usually are only aggressive if they perceive a threat. If you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. So as you try to defend your home, remember, they are trying to do the same.

You can read more about the main wasp and bee differences here.

If a swarm of bees finds its way into the interior of your home, they will do everything they can to build a nest. Unfortunately for you, they can cause significant damage to your insulation.

There are many ways in which bees can get into your house, however usually there are a few main entrances that they like to use!

According to the Congressional Research Service, a hive can contain up to nearly 50,000 bees, which is terrible news for the inside of your home. Not only will their hive building cause damage, but so will the honey they begin to produce.

While the bees may decide to up and move, they can leave behind plenty of damage that will be pricey to fix. For example, if you suspect you have a hive in your walls, it’s essential to immediately address the issue to prevent significant damage.

But, how do we balance keeping bees away from our home while letting them do their job? We break it all down for you.

Deter Bees With These 9 Scents

Now onto the good stuff. We recommend the ten scents because bees hate them, but we don’t always mind having them around.

While a few essential oils are listed below, we have a complete list of 10 essential oils to keep bees away if you want to go that route.

Using items found around your house is a great, convenient way to deter bees. However, they do not entirely solve your problem. Therefore, consistency is critical when treating your property for any pest, so keep at it until the situation begins to dissolve.

Our recommendations are based on scents bees do not like, and while there is evidence to show they are effective, it’s not 100% foolproof. If you ever feel overwhelmed by the process of eliminating bees, reach out to a pest professional who can best access the situation.

Without further ado, here are the ten scents we suggest using when trying to deter bees from your premises.

A quick note, if you have wasps, the smells that repel them will be different from what repels bees slightly. You can take a look at our guide on scents that wasps hate for more info.

Lemon And Lime Juice

three sliced lemons and limes with mint isolated on a white background

If you are frustrated with bees, take a look in your fruit bowl. You can help keep bees out of your backyard by slicing up lemons or limes. Bees do not enjoy the pungent smell of lemons and limes and will avoid it.

You can simply slice the fruit in half and place them around the areas you know you have bees to use this method. You can also add some of the additional scents that bees hate listed in this article. For example, stick garlic cloves into a sliced lemon as a way to deter bees.

In addition, you can add the juice from the fruit to a spray bottle and cover the area surrounding the bees. For example, rather than squeezing many lemons, pick up a bottle or two of Lucy’s Lemon Juice to make your life easier.

While bees might be turned off by lemon and limes, they will undoubtedly enjoy a taste of your soda or juice. So, if you are outside and know bees have been around, keep a watchful eye on your drink. A bee may just find its way inside!

Citronella

You’re probably no stranger to citronella if you spend any time outside. The intense fragrance is popularly used as a deterrent for mosquitoes but can also be used to prevent bees from taking up residence in your home.

The most common method of using citronella to deter bees is burning a citronella candle. The Cutter Citro Guard Candle burns for up to 30 hours and does an excellent job repelling any flying insect that wants to ruin your outdoor fun.

If you have detected where the bees are coming from, light the candle as close as possible without causing a fire hazard.

Citronella is one of the safe, non-toxic scents that bees hate, so you can feel comfortable using it around your house.

Finally, if you are looking for another method of using citronella, you can use tiki torches around your deck to keep bees away. You want to ensure you purchase Citronella Tiki Torch Fuel to confirm it does the job.

Cinnamon

cinnamon powder and sticks isolated on a white background

Cinnamon is a popular spice in kitchens, making it easy to grab and use as a deterrent for bees. The strong scent of cinnamon is enough for any bee to turn its nose up and fly off. 

For the record, bees don’t technically have noses and use their antennae, mouth, and the tips of their legs to smell.

Now that we cleared that up, let’s discuss how you can use cinnamon to deter bees from your premises. All you need to do is sprinkle cinnamon in all areas where you have seen evidence of bees. You can also use cinnamon sticks if you don’t have any ground cinnamon available.

It’s vital to sprinkle the cinnamon daily for at least a week to get optimal results. In addition, if there has been a rainstorm, you want to ensure you reapply for the cinnamon.

Finally, if you have any underground hives, sprinkle the cinnamon around the hole in the ground. You can place cinnamon sticks around the spot as well.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is a safe, non-toxic way to effectively remove bees from your property. The oil won’t harm the bees, but the smell is strong enough to send them on their way.

You can spray peppermint oil around any entryways the bees have used or apply it directly to a bee-ridden spot. In addition, you always want to proceed with caution before you get near a hive. While peppermint oil is one of the scents bees hate, you need to be cautious.

If the bees become agitated, they may become aggressive. So, it’s better to spray areas around the bees and not spray the bees directly. Mighty Mint Peppermint Oil Spray is a good option if you don’t want to go the pure essential oil route as it sticks for a bit longer due to the soap and other inactive ingredients in the product.

Finally, you can also plant peppermint in your yard to protect bees. It will keep the bees away, but it will add a lovely fragrance for you to enjoy.

Garlic Powder

Garlic isn’t just for repelling pesky vampires; it also does a stellar job at keeping bees away. Bees don’t like the strong smell of garlic, and all it takes is sprinkling some garlic powder around your yard to deter the bees from coming closer.

You want to ensure you don’t put the garlic powder directly on the bees, as it could have lethal consequences for the insect. But don’t worry, the smell of garlic is strong enough to scare them off, even if it’s placed around the hive.

In addition, you can also use garlic cloves to deter bees. For example, you can take the cloves and spread them around where the bees have nested.

Cayenne Pepper

Pile of red paprika powder isolated on white background

If you are a fan of spicy food, you know cayenne pepper has a strong fragrance. While it goes great with Taco Tuesday, it also does a stellar job at keeping bees away.

To keep bees away, sprinkle cayenne pepper in the areas where you have seen bees. The strong smell will deter the bees from coming back to their hive or building one in the first place.

You can also mix it with cinnamon to make a more potent odor to deter bees. There’s no doubt the combination of the two spices is one of the scents bees hate.

Cayenne pepper is also very effective for underground hives. Sprinkle around any spot where you have seen evidence of bees.

This is actually quite a good method to use when you have bees and wasps near your bird feeders, as birds can’t taste spice. This method will be a double whammy and can work to repel other animals as well!

Bitter Almond Oil

Another one of the scents that bees hate is almond oil, in particular bitter almond oil. It might not be the almond oil you have in your spice drawer.

Benzaldehyde is the artificial oil of almonds and can be highly effective in deterring bees from your yard. The easiest method of using almonds as a deterrent is to purchase True Oils Bitter Almond Oil.

You can apply almond oil directly to any wooden areas where bees have been present. The oil can be sprayed around the surface or wiped on any spot the bees are building a hive.

Since bees have an excellent sense of smell, they will fly off as they get closer. You can also use any extra almond oil the next time you bake. So it’s a win-win situation.

Smoke

Beekeepers often use smoke to remove the bees from their hives to obtain honey. Smoke is a non-toxic solution that won’t harm the bees but effectively scares them off!

You want to ensure you only use the smoke in small intervals, and you can use an outdoor campfire as a means of smoke.

You should start the smoke as close to the hive as possible. The goal is to smoke the bees out but not to agitate them enough that they attempt to swarm you.

Please note, I’m not saying to go light the hive on fire. But if you want to keep the bees at bay for an afternoon or two, just have an outdoor fire.

Interestingly, when smoke is released near a hive, bees cannot release pheromones used to alert other bees of danger. So, while you still want to be cautious, the smoke will help reduce the defensiveness displayed by bees.

Distilled White Vinegar

Composition with vinegar and lemon on table.

Vinegar works wonders for a multitude of issues around the house, and that includes keeping bees away. Bees do not appreciate the strong smell of vinegar.

Grab a spray bottle and add four parts water to one part vinegar. Spray the mixture around the hive or where you have seen evidence of bees. Do not spray them directly with the vinegar solution to ensure you don’t hurt the bees.

Vinegar is toxic to bees, so you want to ensure you mix the substance with water, so the spray isn’t as potent. So you can start with smaller amounts of vinegar to ensure the bees aren’t harmed and only scared away.

In addition, adding a bowl or cup of vinegar in the area where bees have been seen can also be effective. This method also reduces the chance of accidentally hurting the bees.

Finally, since the bees may become agitated when the solution is sprayed around them, ensure you take your time and don’t rush things.

Vinegar is also a good alternative to use around your car if you have bees near it.

How To Keep Bees Away Long-Term

Close-up photo of a Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) gathering nectar and spreading pollen on a young Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta).

While using scents bees hate is an excellent way to keep them away, it likely won’t solve any problems long-term.

For that, you’ll want to review our guide the reasons why you keep getting bees and wasps in your house.

If you want to help keep the bees away with natural methods, it’s vital to be consistent and ensure you are actively trying to eliminate the issue.

If you spend a lot of time outside and know you have a bee issue, make a point not to wear bright colors. Bees are attracted to bright colors like blue, purple, and yellow, so avoid wearing that outside until you know the bees have vacated your property.

With that being said, there are additional steps to help fix the problem once and for all. As with any pest problem, sometimes it’s best to leave it up to a professional equipped to tackle these situations.

Look For Cracks In Your Foundation

If you’ve recently had a bee problem, you will want to inspect the exterior of your home for any cracks or holes in the foundation.

Bees can fit through tiny crevices and build a hive inside your walls. In addition, they can find their way into attics and the basement and go unnoticed for a lengthy amount of time.

Take the time to fill in any gaps you find, and pay close attention to any spot where utility wires enter your home. Bees can use the same entry point as a way to get into your house.

If you have bees coming in from the outside often, take a look at our guide on what do if you find bees and wasps in your house

Keep Lids On Trash Bins

Bees are attracted to sweet smells, so if your trash is uncovered, they may stop by to see if you have anything good to eat. 

Open trash bins are an invitation to almost any type of pest, big or small, so it’s always advisable to keep any outside trash secure. It’s even better to bring your bins into the garage when they aren’t used.

Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers Away From Your House

bee collecting pollen on a dandelion macro

If you are okay with bees doing their job in your yard, but don’t want them too close, ensure you plant their favorite flowers away from your house.

Bees are big fans of lilacs, honeysuckle, poppies, sunflowers, and black-eyed Susans. (Just to name a few). Plant some sunflowers if you are trying to entice the bees to your yard. Bees are most active during the day when they pollinate these flowers!

If you want to plant quickly and effectively, consider getting something like this Bee Friendly Wildflower Seed Mix!  

Sunflowers have been known to increase bees’ pollination and are very attractive to have in your yard.

The wonderful thing about planting a bee’s favorite flowers is that you can still see the benefit of having bees while keeping them close to your house.

Wrapping Things Up!

That wraps up the ten scents that bees hate. Hopefully, these tips have helped you deal with your bee issue.

Bees can become a nuisance if they create a home in or around your house. However, you can help repel bees using these scents.

  • Lemon and Lime Juice
  • Citronella 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Peppermint 
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Bitter Almond Oil 
  • Smoke 
  • Distilled Vinegar

You must stay on top of any method you decide on, as consistency is key! Regardless of which avenue you choose, ensuring your home is free of any attractors to bees is vital.

Bees are necessary for our environment, but they aren’t needed at your backyard BBQ. Hopefully, this advice will help keep the bees at bay and enjoy being outside again!

References 

Greenleaf, Sarah S., and Claire Kremen. “Wild bees enhance honey bees’ pollination of hybrid sunflower.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103.37 (2006): 13890-13895.

Lim, H. C. “Mothballs: bringing safety issues out from the closet.” Singapore medical journal 47.11 (2006): 1003.

Tepedino, Vincent J. “The importance of bees and other insect pollinators in maintaining floral species composition.” Great Basin naturalist memoirs (1979): 139-150.

Townsend, G. F. “Benzaldehyde: a new repellent for driving bees.” Bee World 44.4 (1963): 146-149.

Visscher, P. Kirk, Richard S. Vetter, and Gene E. Robinson. “Alarm pheromone perception in honey bees is decreased by smoke (Hymenoptera: Apidae).” Journal of Insect Behavior 8.1 (1995): 11-18.

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