Ever noticed how some little bees seem to follow you everywhere you go when working outdoors?
And the problem is even worse during the humid and hot days or months of the year. These little bees are the sweat bees, and they are one of the most common types of these pollinating insects. In fact, you can get them in all continents except Australia.
But what makes them different from other bee types?
The answer to this age-old question is simple and it because unlike many other bee species, the scent of sweat seems to attract them.
Sounds odd, doesn’t it?
As weird as it might seem it is a fact and they can be very annoying. No one wants to have some pesky insects clinging on to their clothes. However, once you understand how to get rid of sweat bees on your own, they will never be a problem. But first, it is essential to know what they are and the danger they pose.
So let’s get started.
What is a Sweat Bee?
You have probably seen a sweat bee when working outdoors as they are quite common. But do you know what sweat bees are or how they look? For one to be able to exterminate or repel them, it is vital to understand what sweat bees are and how to tell them apart from other well-known bee species like the honey and killer bees.
The most distinctive feature of the sweat bees is that they are smaller than most of the other bee types. You can see these bees flying around flower and vegetable gardens with the hind legs loaded with some pollen that they carry back to their underground nests.
These bees get their name from the fact they have an almost insatiable craving for human sweat. But, what attracts them is the salt in the sweat because they need to eat it to keep an active lifestyle.
These little bees love sweat so much that they can even crawl under your clothes when they smell it. And although most people do not know this, their real name is Halictid bees, and they only come second to the honeybees when it comes to the common bee types.
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How Do Sweat Bees Look?
Sweat bees or the Halictid bees are a collection of up to 3,500 species. The bees in this category come in different colors, but all are small in size. In many instances, they will not be associated with bees since they do not come with the typical yellow bee coloring. Most of the sweat bee species will have a dark to metallic black shade, but there are also some species that are blue, purples or metallic green.
The sweat bees have a short but sharp tongue, and their hind legs are long and quite hairy. But, the males are the most recognizable since they spot a black abdomen with some yellow stripes. When it comes to the size, they range between 5 and 11 mm in length, but in some rare instances, some species can grow longer (but just slightly) than this.
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How Dangerous Are Sweat Bees?
Well, now you know what sweat bees are and how they look. So what’s next?
Before we get to the crucial part of how to get rid of them, first we highlight the dangers they pose if at all any. You would not want to spend a fortune to exterminate or repel something that might not even be dangerous, would you?
So are sweat bees dangerous?
No, they are not. In fact, only the females will develop stingers. However, like most other bees the females can sting when they think they are in danger or feel threatened. But, they are not very aggressive, and in most cases, they will only react when you squeeze them against the skin.
These bees will only land on you to collect the sweat drops, and if you do not touch them, they will just fly away.
Although the sweat bees are not dangerous, it is important to note that the female sting also carries some venom. If you have a bee sting allergy or you get stung by many of them (which is quite unlikely since they rarely move in swarms) you can be in significant danger since there will be a lot of venom in your system.
But, for the occasional sting by one or a couple of sweat bees applying some ice is just enough to reduce the swelling and ease the pain.
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How to Get Rid of Sweat Bees
In most circumstances, you will only get one or a couple of sweat bees following you around. And so you can always ignore them or find something to brush them off your clothes or kill them.
But what do you do when you keep seeing the sweat bees or discover their nest in your yard or garden?
Well, this means that you have a sweat bee problem and you need to find a solution. Luckily there are many ways of tackling the problem. Let’s jump straight into the three main ways of dealing with sweat bees.
Different bee types will have different nesting behaviors, and so you cannot use one particular trap to deal with all of them. If you are facing a sweat bee infestation, you need something that can attract them and contain or kill them.
An example of one such trap is the Aspectek Yellow Jackets Trap for bees and other insects. This fantastic trap will lure the bees inside with a sweet mixture of water and sugar (which by the way is irresistible for most sweat bee species), and so it will make trapping them almost effortlessly.
It is also possible to make a homemade bee trap with materials that you already have around the house. But, building one that can trap these little insects will require a lot of inventiveness. Remarkably, some innovative individuals can make some impressive sweat bee traps with a bottle for containing the bees.
However, why should you go through all this trouble when you can buy a simple and efficient trap for a few dollars?
Repelling these little bees provides the most humane way of keeping them out of your home.
But what exactly repels sweat bees?
There are a few things that can keep them away from you and your home. While some will counter the smell of sweat, others produce a scent that the bees do not like or associate with insect-eating predators. So what are some of these useful sweat bee repellants?
- Mint Rub
The mint rub is a fast, easy and cheap method of repelling the sweat bees. In fact, in most instances, you will not need to spend any cash to make this rub. The mint rub counters the smell of your sweat and hence making it hard for the bees to detect and they also just seem to hate the smell of mint.
Although you can also buy some mint soap or lotion, the cheapest idea is to make it at home.
And to do this, you will only need to fill a small water bottle about half way with clean tap water. Next, add a few drops of peppermint extract and finish by shaking the bottle to mix the two compounds. Now the sweat bee repellent is ready and the only thing left is for you to spray it on your skin.
NOTE: Chopped fresh mint is even better, but remember to make a new bottle of solution every 3-4 days.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Yes, it is just that straightforward.
- Commercial Sweat Bee Repellents
Let’s face it!
You will not always have the time to make a mint rub, and sometimes you might not feel like doing it. We all have that lazy day when something simple as adding peppermint to water seems like a lot of work. And so a commercial sweat bee repellent can come in handy.
But, it is also a cheap and quite efficient method of keeping the bees out of the house. For a few dollars, you can have a potent bee repellent.
There are many insect repellents out there that can keep these pesky bees away from your home, but the wise idea is to go for something without harsh chemicals. Remember that you only want to repel them and not kill them. Some of the ingredients to watch out for when buying the commercial repellants include eucalyptus, lemongrass, soybean oils and citronella.
Extermination is the other method or the last resort when everything else fails. Here you can use the services of a professional if you are willing to spend the extra cash to buy commercial pesticide. But since a colony or nest of sweat bees will only contain a few dozen bees you may not even need to call in the professional for extermination because with the right pesticides and some free time you can do it yourself.
Whether you are doing the extermination on your own or calling in an expert, the nest size is always the primary factor that determines the cost. Again, total annihilation should be the last option because the chemicals can be harmful to the plant life around the sweat bee nest and also to your pets.
We strongly recommend using this method in the severe or extreme cases. Remember about bees extinction!
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Sweat Bees Prevention
Wouldn’t things be easier for you if you never hard to deal with the sweat bees at all? Although they are one of the simplest pests to control, prevention is always better for you and also for the insects as it ensures that you do not have to harm them.
But how do you keep the pesky bees out of your home?
The most effective method of prevention entails creating an environment that is not suitable for the sweat bees. When the humidity levels are quite low, you will not see a lot of these pesky bees. But what can you do about this since you cannot control the weather? Simple, make the ground unsuitable for them to build a nest.
One of the best methods or tricks to do this is adding several layers of mulch near their nesting area. Since they prefer to nest on dry and thin soil, they will move on to a more suitable place away from your compound.
Even as you make the ground unsuitable for nesting, it is crucial to keep in mind that the sweat bees can also look for alternatives. Dead trees and stumps are one of the favorite nesting alternatives for sweat bees. And so it is also essential to remove them to make sure that they do not have anywhere to settle.
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Additional Tips for Protection from Sweat Bees
- Try to keep stress levels in check because too much worry can trigger sweating and hence attract the sweat bees.
- As obvious as it might sound you need to take a shower regularly. But, when you are dealing with sweat bees this is a golden rule because the less you sweat, the less attractive you will be for the bees you come across.
- Cover your head and wear closed clothes when possible to make it hard for the bees to crawl into the hair or reach your skin.
- Drain any standing water in your compound and eliminate all unnecessary sources of water because they can also attract sweat bees.
- If you must exterminate or hire someone to do it make sure that the chemicals or pesticides that you use do not contain any harsh compounds.
- Do not wear a lot of perfume and avoid it entirely when spending a lot of time outdoors because like many other insects sweet scents will also attract sweat bees.
Dealing with sweat bees is that simple if you need to clear them from your home. But, the good news is that you will rarely need to do anything since in most cases you will only come across one or a couple of them. Since they are not as dangerous as the killer bees, you will not have a lot to worry about when getting rid of them.
However, it is also important to know that their stings can still trigger an allergic reaction to those with allergies. And being stung by too many of them can pose a significant danger. All in all, sweat bees are one of the easiest insects to exterminates or repel from your house.
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