Simple Tips To Keep Bees Away When Eating Outside!

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Enjoying a meal outdoors on your patio, in your backyard, or at a picnic in the park is something we all enjoy with friends and family. Uninvited party crashers, such as bees, can quickly destroy the mood of the occasion! How can you keep bees away from your outdoor meals and avoid them from causing you and your guests to head indoors?

The best way to keep bees away when eating outdoors is to select your outdoor location carefully, prevent using colors that attract bees, and keep scents that attract bees to a minimum. Using homemade repellents to create smells that bees dislike is a useful deterrent to keep the bees away.

Bees are a necessary part of our environment, but we don’t always want these creatures around for our special outdoor occasions. We have some do’s and don’ts you can use to make your outdoor meal less attractive to bees and other critters that make outdoor eating a challenge.

Keeping Bees Away When Eating Outdoors

Eating outdoors, particularly in the summer, is an experience that many people enjoy. Getting outside and sharing a meal with friends and family is part of our habits that we enjoy as a social species.

Unfortunately, we are not very sociable when other species try to include themselves at our gathering and help themselves to our meal or bother our guests!

Bees buzzing around our picnic table or poolside patio drinks is frustrating and increases the risk of someone getting stung.

We have some practical advice you can use to limit the word getting out to the insect world that free food and drink are available at your next outdoor meal!

1. Pick Your Outdoor Eating Location Carefully

Some pre-planning is essential when selecting your outdoor spot to enjoy your meal. Certain areas are more attractive to bees than others.

Scouting ahead and being a little selective about your outdoor location will be the starting point to reducing bees from interrupting your meal. Check the bee activity near the site where you want to enjoy your meal and avoid areas of high bee activity.

If you are at a public location, stay away from trash cans. Trash cans in public places contain open soda cans, ice cream wrappers, and other trash items with remnants of sweet treats that can attract bees.

Selecting an area with more trees than flowers around will make it less likely that passing bees will be attracted to your meal.

2. Don’t Wear Strong Fragrances When Eating Outdoors

Bees use their sense of smell to find flowers that could potentially be a source of food. Strong floral perfumes, fragrances, and deodorants may keep you as fresh as a daisy, but they also invite the bees to investigate your perfume.

Unscented deodorants are a good option, and possibly consider forgoing perfume for the occasion to remain under the bees’ radar.

If any of your guests arrive wearing a strong fragrance, offering them a spray-on insect repellant may help to camouflage the scent from the bees.

3. Use Dryer Sheets To Ward Off Bees Around Outdoor Meals

Dryer sheets emit a smell that bees don’t like and emit more aroma as the sun heats up the sheet. Place a few dryer sheets around the picnic blanket or clipped to the back of outdoor chairs with some clothes pegs.

The dryer sheets emit an odor that is pleasant for humans but keeps the bees away from your immediate vicinity.

4. Don’t Wear Brightly Colored Clothes That Attract Bees

Bees use their vision and their sense of smell to seek out potential food sources. They are attracted to colors that typically represent flowers that provide them with pollen and nectar.

If bees see these colors, they may come to investigate, which can spell disaster for your outdoor meal.

Avoid wearing blue, purple, violet, and yellow clothing, as these colors attract bees the most. White, red, neutral green, tan, and brown colors do not act as a flag, prompting the bees to investigate.

Likewise, when you select tablecloths, bowls, plates, and other items to hold the food you are serving, choose similar colors that won’t attract the attention of any bees in the area.

5. Spray A Homemade Bee Repellent

A homemade bee repellant spray is ideal for keeping the bees away while you eat outdoors. Spraying a bee repellant around the area where you will be enjoying your meal will let bees know that there is nothing of interest here and they should keep their distance.

There are several recipes for bee repellants that can be made from common household ingredients that work effectively to keep bees away.

One such recipe we can recommend is filling a plastic spray bottle with a mixture of water, Castile liquid soap, some cinnamon, peppermint oil or citronella oil, and cayenne pepper.

Check out our article, “How To Keep Dees Away With These Simple Home Remedies,” for some other ideas to create unattractive aromas for bees.

As already mentioned, bees use their sense of smell to locate potential food sources. If they detect an odor offensive to them, they will veer off and find a different location with more attractive aromas.

6. Don’t Squash Any Bees Around Your Outdoor Meal

If a few errant bees do find their way to your outdoor meal, don’t try to swat them away or try to squash them to get rid of them.

Swatting at bees could provoke a sting. A pheromone is released when a bee stings or is squashed, which tells other bees there is a threat in the area.

This action could backfire and result in more bees being attracted to the area to find out what threat is around. The demeanor of the arriving bees could also be aggressive if there is a hive nearby.

7. Keep Food And Drink Covered When Eating Outdoors

Bees are attracted to the smell of food and drink that could represent food resources for them. They are particularly attracted to the brightly colored food that they could mistake for flowers. The smell of sugary drinks, which could represent nectar for the bees, is another attractant for any bees in the vicinity.

Keep your food sealed in airtight containers until you are ready to eat. This will limit the time that the food is exposed to the air and the possibility of attracting bees.

Once the food has been dished up, re-seal the food to avoid an overwhelming scent the bees cannot ignore.

Avoid serving food with fresh bananas as an ingredient. The aroma of fresh bananas is known to attract bees.

Limit the exposure of sugary drinks to the air that can attract bees. Use jugs with lids to prevent the smell of sugar from escaping and also prevent bees from getting into the drink.

Soda cans can be protected by using specially designed bee-proof lids to assist in preventing bees from smelling the drink and accidentally getting inside the soda can. A bee sting to the inside of the mouth or throat can be a harrowing and dangerous situation.


Keeping bees away while eating or entertaining outdoors requires a multi-faceted approach to be successful. Using a single strategy, such as a bee repellant, may not be enough if other factors are attracting the bees and causing them to ignore the repellant.

Use as many of our suggestions as you can to ensure the bees keep away from you when eating outside!


About Grampa Beekeeper

Having spent a lifetime tending to bees, I now want to pass my knowledge onto the next generation of beekeepers. Beekeeping may not be fashionable, but it is my life long passion! From entrance excluders to packaged bee handling, I've got you covered! I'm not the best at writing, though, so bear with me!!

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