Sweat Bees & Pest Control
For many people around the Bryan and College Station area, sweat bees are a problem. Not only can these little and usually metallic bees sting, but they are also active pollinators and that is where the bulk of the problem arises.
Sweat bees are not only pest, they are beneficial and those roles collide around pest control. In this blog, we look at the nature of these small bees and some of the things you can do to avoid attracting them to you.
Small Bees with a Funny Name
Sweat bees are in the family Halictidae – Hal – ick- tid- aye and they get their common name because they are attracted to human sweat. It is the salts in the sweat that drive these little bees to us. Halictid bees are native bees that are small and solitary. In comparison to the honey bee, these little hairy bees are often slender (long and lean) and not quite as long as a honeybee. They are also not social bees such as are honey bees.
Social bees live in communities that are controlled by a queen. Solitary bees are a single female with a nursery chamber for laying eggs and storing food – pollen bread. These little bees do not make honey – instead that make an odd form of dough made from pollen, nectar and bee saliva. As such, sweat bees are very active pollinators. Also, in contract to honeybees, they do not have pollen baskets on their hind legs, instead, their tiny bodies are covered in hairs that trap the pollen from each flower they visit.
Tiny Bees with Tiny Stings
Sweat bees can sting and they will sting you. Generally, they sting because they become pinched by our body as they drink our sweat of if they are strapped in a wrinkle or crease in our clothing. They do not set out to attack humans. Unlike honey bees, which swarm when aggravated, sweat bees are singles. They do not swarm. Their sting, while sharp is not as severe as that of a honey bee or most wasps. It is a light prick that is sharp and gone almost instantly.
What You Can do to Avoid Sweat Bees
- Use a Barrier Spray or tonic – Sweat bees do not like things that are minty so if you are not allergic to mint, try mint-scented lotion or balm. If you are in an outdoor living area and are pestered by sweat bees, you can try a mint infuser, which as it warms emits a minty aroma. Peppermint is one of the better “flavors” of mint to use. Some store-bought bug sprays may work too. Be sure to read the label to make sure they are rated to repel bees.
- Baits and Traps – both kill bees, but if your yard is overrun with sweat bees, then you can “thin” down their population with a trap.
- Make your yard less habitable to sweat bees. In agriculture we use hedgerows to cultivate native bees because most native bees are ground-dwelling. Sweat bees make tiny nests in the ground and you can make your yard less of a target for their nest building by adding things like wood chips under shrubs and plants. No nests mean fewer sweat bees around your yard.
For more information about how to control sweat bees in your yard, reach out to our team. We can help with bee traps, and repellents that make your yard less of an oasis for sweat bees.