So you finally have the backyard of your dreams. Maybe it's the pool you always dreamed of, a fully outfitted outdoor kitchen, or just the perfect patio set. No matter what it is though, this Summer, you're ready to enjoy your backyard. The simplest thing that could get in the way of your new backyard haven is stinging pests. Wasps and bees are unpleasant, make you and your guests feel uncomfortable, and can be extremely dangerous if any of your family or friends have allergies.
This Summer, take proactive action against bees, wasps, hornets and other stinging insects with a few simple steps:
1. Avoid "Attractive" Plants
Avoid planting lots of flowering plants, bushes and trees that attract bees who will come to pollinate. Some sweet species attract more bees than others. Talk to an expert at a garden centre near you when choosing your plants to find out which are most attractive to bees.
2. Natural Plant Deterrents
Also consider planting feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) in your garden, which is an herb that repels bees. It's small, daisy-like flowers emit a bitter odour. It's not strong enough to be offensive to humans more than a foot away, but honeybees are especially sensitive to the off-putting scent.
3. Don't Leave Food Outdoors
The worst thing you can do to attract bees, wasps, hornets and all manner of other insects is to leave sugar-rich foods and beverages outside. This includes pop or soda, fruits, and alcoholic drinks. Don't leave pits, peels, cups or glasses outside. When you're done with them, bring them in.
4. Standing Water
Standing water, like dripping hose faucets, empty planters, pet water bowls, or bird feeders, are attractive to insects, which all need water to survive. Keep these dry or indoors.
5. Soapy Spray
After all of your attempts to deter these insects from making your backyard their home, there's still only so much you can do. If a colony decides to make your backyard their home, they'll start building a nest. Look in common areas for nests regularly: roof overhang, garages and sheds, bushes and tree branches. Check these areas on (at least) a weekly basis. Prepare a spray bottle with a soapy water solution; any dish soap is sufficient. (WARNING: If you have a mild or severe allergic reaction to wasp, bee or hornet stings, do NOT perform this step. Have someone else spray the nest for you.) When a nest starts to appear, spray it thoroughly with the soapy solution. The best time to do this is in the late evening when the bugs are least active. Avoid rattling or shaking the nest as you will quickly upset the insects and they will attack. The soapy water makes the insects heavy, making it more difficult for them to fly and breathe, so they will eventually die. Repeat this for several nights, until you stop finding alive or dead insects around the nest, before you try to remove the nest and dispose of it.