When you’re opening your pool for the season or preparing to take a refreshing swim, the last thing you want to worry about is bees (and other flying insects). Luckily, there are several easy solutions to keep bees away from your pool.
Natural sprays, plants, cleaning tricks, and DIY methods are four potential solutions for homeowners with unexpected pool guests this summer. These are all non-lethal methods that are risk-free for both insects and people.
As bees as one of the most important native pollinators, the goal isn’t to kill them. Rather, you just want to redirect them away from your pool.
Ways to Keep Bees Away From Pools
Chlorine and saltwater pools commonly attract bees, wasps, and other insects. To keep them away from your pool, homeowners can take one of two methods: repelling them or attracting them.
That is, you can either take steps to make them avoid the pool or make another section of the yard more attractive than the pool. Both solutions create a bee-free swimming environment.
In this article, we’ll cover ways to keep bees away from your pool. (Though there are one or two tricks to create a more bee-friendly area elsewhere.)
Here’s the four main areas we’ll talk about:
- Using natural scents or sprays to deter bees and wasps
- Growing bee- and wasp-repellant plants
- How to clean your pool area and make it unattractive to insects
- DIY tactics to get rid of bees without killing them
Scents and plants are two of the most popular methods of insect control. But they aren’t necessarily the most effective depending on your circumstances and how long your pool has been hosting bees.
What Attracts Bees to Pools
The size of your pool and the strong smell of the water, produced by chlorine or other chemicals, is what attracts bees and other bugs to your swimming space.
Let’s start with the first point: size.
Obviously, bees are just like you and every other creature in that they need water to survive. And you’ve oh-so-conveniently gathered a large amount of it in one easily-accessible area.
Besides drinking it themselves, bees also take water back to the hive. They use it to dilute honey, which is then fed to their larvae, and cool down the combs and other bees.
Beyond the fact that your pool offers what seems like an endless supply of water, bees are also drawn to it because of the smell.
Treating your pool with chlorine, salt, and other chemicals creates a smell that acts as a beacon for bugs. It overpowers the smell of other water sources and makes yours seem more attractive.
Unfortunately, you can’t do anything about the size or smell of your pool (short of taking it down, but no one wants that). But there are steps you can take to encourage bees to go elsewhere.
How to Get Rid of Bees Without Harming Them
Using natural sprays or plants are two of the most effective ways to get rid of bees without harming them. Concerned homeowners can also clear their pool area of other attractions, such as leftover food, and create DIY deterrents with household materials.
Spraying harsh chemicals into your pool upsets the pool’s chemistry and can pose a serious danger to any swimmers. To avoid this, implement natural solutions to get rid of bees.
The methods below create a bee-free swimming zone without hurting any bugs or people.
Sprays & Scents to Keep Bees Away
There are several natural scents that effectively repel bees without harming them. Mint and variants of this (spearmint, peppermint, etc.) and lemongrass are the scents most often cited, but these aren’t the only ones that will deter flying insects.
Here’s a list of scents that you can spray or add to your pool area for the best success:
People have had great success with using these essential oils and extracts to get rid of bees, wasps, and other flying insects.
One study specifically looked at the effectiveness of these oils against social wasps, such as yellowjackets and paper wasps. It found that 17 oils worked to repel these insects, including the ones listed above.
Two mixtures in particular successfully blocked the attraction of all wasps:
- Clove, geranium, and lemongrass
- Clove, geranium, lemongrass, and rosemary
People have also had limited success with garlic, lemon, and lime.
Dilute them slightly with water or keep them potent. Spray or otherwise add them at periodic intervals around your pool.
For stronger scents, such as mint variants, you may only need to do this once or twice. But for weaker scents, you may have to apply daily for a week or more for it to take effect.
As an extra benefit, these scents will repel bees and wasps— but smell great to you!
Natural Plants That Repel Bees
The same scents that naturally repel bees are just as effective in their original plant form. Mint and lemongrass are both commonly used, but aren’t the only gardening option for homeowners.
If you’re looking for a more aesthetically pleasing option that you can easily find in your local nursery, we suggest investing in citronella or geraniums.
These plants are easy to grow and maintain, will add a pop of color to your poolside, and will keep winged visitors away.
If you’re up to the task of creating a herb garden, you’ll also be able to harvest fresh ingredients for your cooking. Sage, thyme, rosemary, mint, and basil go well in many dishes and repel bees.
Other plants that will get the job done include:
These don’t flower, but do have interesting textures and appearances that still create a beautiful landscape while still deterring bees.
For any homeowners looking for a more unique plant that serves the same purpose, pitcher plants are renowned for their ability to control insect populations. However, they do this by trapping and eating bees, not repelling them.
Keep in mind, cloves and lavender are two plants that you should avoid. While their concentrated scent drives bees away, flowering plants will draw them in.
Alternatively, you can add natural plants that attract bees— but plant them far away from your pool. Plants that bees like include:
- Borage/ Starflowers
- Black-Eyed Susans
- California Poppies
- Bee Balm (i.e., Monardas)
Adding a source of water around these plants is also helpful, since it directs them towards water that’s not your pool. A birdbath or fountain are popular choice and look nice when surrounded by flowers.
If you have any of these already planted near your pool, we suggest moving them to a more ideal location. Similarly, don’t spruce up the area around your pool with these plants.
Other Tactics to Get Rid of Bees
Besides using sprays and natural plants, there are several actions you can take to keep bees away from your pool. These involve cleaning the area around your swimming space, so that you’re not adding more attractive sources of food or water for bees and other flying insects.
Here are some ways to keep your space bee-free:
- Clean up spills and residue from sugary drinks (soda, lemonade, etc.) and food
- Throw away unused or old drinks and food into a covered receptacle
- Keep your trash can and garbage and recycling bins covered and away from the pool
- Move any hummingbird feeders away from the pool and add nectar guards to them
There are also some DIY methods you can try. Though they’re not guaranteed to repel bees, people have reported varying success:
- Fake Wasp Nests – Bees are about as fond of wasps as you are. If you create a faux wasp nest, they’ll avoid the area it’s hung in. Crumble up a brown paper bag and place it in another, then hang it from a branch, porch beam, or other area near the pool.
- Water/ Dish Soap Mixture – Combine one part water with one part dish soap and spray it at the bees. Though this won’t kill them, it soak their wings and deter them in the future. But be warned: it can also make them angry (and more prone to stinging.)
- Sugar Water Mixture – Instead of dish soap, mix sugar with water and place it in bowls or other containers. Bees will be more attracted to this than your pool, despite it having a less strong scent.
- Dryer Sheets – Though no one is quite sure why, bees hate the scent of dryer sheets. If you have some spare sheets on hand, try placing them around the pool. You can add them to poolside furniture and objects or weigh them down with rocks.
If you have a pollinator area in your yard or space geared towards wild insects or animals, make sure it’s as far away from the pool as possible.
You should also make sure to securely cover your pool when it isn’t open for swimming, such as during fall and winter. Additionally, keep water from gathering on top of the cover.
These steps will help repel bees and keep them away from your pool.