Last Updated on September 20, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
Halictidae-commonly referred to as sweat bees are regarded as the second largest family of bees, and occur all over the world.
This group of solitary or eusocial bees species lives alone in underground nests, and usually aren’t a threat to humans, but in fact, are important pollinators.
What Are Sweat Bees?
Sweat bees are aptly named for their attraction to human sweat, and some species can resemble bumblebees or honeybees, and others look similar to wasps.
Their similar appearance to other harmful insects is perhaps one of the reasons many people want to learn how to get rid of sweat bees.
There are over 1,000 species of sweat bees in the United States, Central America, and Canada.
Just like other bee species, sweat bees live in colonies with each bee given a different role, depending on the species.
Both solitary and eusocial sweat bees live underground and dig holes below the soil. However, eusocial sweat bees live in individual cells that are closer together, whereas solitary sweat bees live in cells that are located further apart from each other.
What Do Sweat Bees Look Like?
Sweat bees are known for their different shades of bronze, blue, green, and some are dull metallic black.
This bee species range anywhere between 0.125 to 0.5 inches in length, and male bees are more slender than females.
Furthermore, they feature hairy hind legs that carry the nectar and pollen from the flowers to the hives. Male sweat bee species do not carry pollen on the back of their legs, only female sweat bees do.
Sweat bees have short tongues, which come in handy for sucking up sweat.
Unlike hoverflies, sweat bees will pollinate every type of flower in your home and garden, but their favorite flowers are stone fruits, alfalfa, and sunflowers.
A sweat bee also has a more complex digestive and detoxification system than honey bees or any other bees, which helps them handle and process the different types of pollen they collect.
Where Do Sweat Bees Nest?
Sweat bees are sometimes called soil nesting bees, because the colony burrows into dry soil in dry sunny areas. This bee species also creates nests in softwood.
Given that they are attracted to human sweat and water, you will often find sweat bees hovering around people outdoors, such as near a pool.
Sweat bees appear in very large numbers in humid jungle climate conditions, as well as in the orchards or in meadows.
Adding to this, sweat bees are most active from March to the end of summer, but certain species can be active until October in some states, such as Georgia.
What Attracts Sweat Bees?
Sweat bees are mainly attracted to the pollen and nectar of flowers, but sometimes they do need to supplement their diet with salt and moisture found in your sweat, which is why they end up lapping up human sweat.
Are Sweat Bees Dangerous?
For the most part, sweat bees aren’t dangerous, but just like all other bees, can sting if disturbed. Once stung by a sweat bee, you will feel the stinger pierce your skin, and it will stay there, which is why you need to act quickly to pull it out.
After you pull the sweat bee sting out, apply ice to the area to reduce swelling and pain or an over the counter pain reliever to help with the swelling and itching.
You can even make your own homemade sweat bee pain solution with baking soda, meat tenderizer, and water.
Seek medical attention immediately if the sweat bee has stung you on your neck, head, or in your mouth, has stung you multiple times, if you have difficulty breathing, or if you have known bee allergies.
Sweat bees aren’t usually aggressive until disturbed, so things you don’t want to do to avoid a sting include creating vibrations in the ground near their nest, casting dark shadows over their nest, and getting between a sweat bee and its nest.
Are Sweat Bees Dangerous to Dogs?
All dogs even your indoor lapdog are at risk of sweat bee stings. If your dog has been stuck by a sweat bee or even a honey bee, it may limp, yelp or whimper, run in circles, or lick the site of the sweat bee sting.
The good news is the physical symptoms of a sweat bee sting in dogs are usually swelling, redness, and discomfort. But you need to find the sweat bee stinger, and remove it by running your nail or a credit card over the skin to locate the stinger.
Do not pinch the stinger with your nail or tweezers, as it may inject more venom into your pet as you pull out the stinger.
If this is your dog’s first bee sting, you will have to monitor it closely for signs of a much more severe allergic reaction such as increased swelling, collapse, vomiting, pale gums, diarrhea, and/or difficulty breathing.
Are Sweat Bees Beneficial Insects?
We often think of bees as being great for our yard, and sweat bees are no different.
Sweat bees are extremely productive pollinators, and favor an extensive range of plants, and will happily move from flower to flower in your garden.
Sweat bees will not sting you unless they are stimulated, and even those that do sting you are craving your perspiration, which is on the outer part of your skin, so they are disinclined to sting you.
If you leave them alone, sweat bees are a beautiful addition to your home garden landscape.
In most gardens, sweat bees aren’t present in large enough quantities, therefore don’t pose a problem. You may feel the occasional bee buzzing longing for a drink of sweat annoying, but the sweat bee will drink and go away if you don’t swat at it.
What Is The Best Pest Control Approach For Sweat Bees?
Even though sweat bees are highly beneficial for your ecosystem, there are several reasons you may want to get rid of these bees such as if you’ve got a sizable colony in your yard.
Another reason to get rid of sweat bees is if you’re suffering from a severe allergy, because the last thing you want to do is put your health in jeopardy.
How to Get Rid of Sweat Bees — 6 Ways
If you’re wondering how to get rid of sweat bees, we’ve got 6 different proven solutions to choose from! When trying to get rid of sweat bees, you should always try and use natural solutions first, before getting into pesticide and chemical solutions.
1. Creating an Inhospitable Landscape
This is possibly the easiest way to get rid of bees, and requires little or no investment. Whereas with most other types of pests, you want to remove certain forms of shelter such as plants and debris, sweat bees build their homes in bare earth, so simply fixing bald patches can move entire colonies.
A few deterrent options include:
- Adding mulch between garden rows or under shrubs, will help deter them as they are ground nesters.
- Lay down some landscape fabric to prevent the bees from creating their earthen burrows.
- Extending your lawn or plant flowers in a barren area, the bees will help with the pollination of plants.
- Use the right ground cover such as clover or baby’s breath.
- Plant a new garden.
2. Luring the Sweat Bees Away
This method takes a bit longer, but is highly effective at driving sweat bees, and other sweat-loving insects away.
You will need a container and some mangoes to get rid of sweat bees with this method. Chop up the mangoes into medium-size chunks, and place them in a container.
Suspend the container where the sweat bees are most active. It will take a day or so for the sweat bees to identify the container, and use this sweet solution as a source of food.
Be sure to replace the mango occasionally, and repeat the process until the bees move a safe distance away. This method is effective against sweat bees, as well as horseflies and other stinging insects.
3. Use a Sweat Bee Trap
When shopping for the best bee trap for the minuscule sweat bee, you will be spoilt for choice due to the many options available. But most are large in size, hence not a good choice for small sweat bees.
However, the Pic’s Yellow Jacket & Wasp Trap is a great choice for trapping sweat bees, and even wasps, fruit flies, and hornets.
It features six entry funnels to attract bees from all directions, and traps insects without the use of any harmful chemicals.
Best of all, the Pic’s Yellow Jacket & Wasp Trap is durable and usable, so it will come in handy for future insect problems in your garden.
4. Essential Oils Make An Effective Repellent Option
Commercial options aside, there are several types of essential oils you can use to get rid of sweat bees, including lemon oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, clove oil, and citronella oil.
Choose any one of the above essential oils, dilute a few drops with water, and rub them onto your skin. You can even place an essential oil burner in the area to be treated.
5. How to Get Rid of Sweat Bees Using a Sweat Bee Repellent?
There are several commercial repellents available, but most of them don’t work on all types of bee. Repel, however, has some great user reviews claiming it works great at getting rid of sweat bees.
It offers long-lasting protection, and can be used whenever you need it.
Some commercial insect repellents are available in the form of a strip that you can hang in a strategic position.
You can also find a natural repellent in the form of herbal repellent sprays.
6. Homemade Repellant to Get Rid of Sweat Bees
You can make a homemade natural repellent to eliminate a sweat bee nest. Peppermint is a wonderful herb with myriad different uses.
Simply dilute a few drops of peppermint extract in water, and spray it on yourself, so that the sweat bees don’t smell the salt in your sweat.
How to Get Rid of Sweat Bees Around a Pool?
Covering your pool is a great way to keep most pest insects away, but sweat bees are more interested in you than the water in your pool.
As mentioned earlier, there are several repellant sprays available, but most will wash off when you’re in the pool.
A simple homemade method to get rid of sweat bees around a pool is by mixing 1/4 cup of dish soap with one cup of warm water, pouring the mixture into a spray bottle, and spraying the sweat bees.
This mix will only suffocate them, and will prevent sweat bee stings.
How to Keep Sweat Bees Away Naturally?
There are a few precautionary measures you can take to keep sweat at bay naturally.
1. Wear long sleeves and pants
Try covering up if the weather permits when outdoors. Long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants are effective choices for protective clothing.
If you’re gardening outside, and it’s hot and sunny, you may want to put on some long-sleeved gardening gloves rather than a long-sleeved shirt.
2. Maintain good personal hygiene
If you’re going to spending a lot of time outdoors in your garden, you should practice good personal hygiene to keep sweat at a minimum.
Remember, it’s the sweat that draws sweat bees towards you, so reducing your sweat build-up can minimize the issue.
3. Use mothballs
Mothballs are easily available online and at your local hardware store, and produce a smell that bees detest.
Make sure to hang the mothballs near the sweat bee nest to prevent them from returning.
4. Selective planting
There are certain plants sweat bees prefer to pollinate than others including poppies and wisteria, so moving these plants to a different location where you don’t mind having the bees is a great way to prevent them from coming in contact with you.
Sweat bees and beneficial insects are unlike other types of bees, but sometimes they can become a big problem. We’ve given you several solutions to get rid of sweat bees, but if none of them work, or you have an extreme sweat bee problem, your last resort is to call a professional pest control service.
There will be costs involved, but don’t forget that sweat bees do sting, so you may be better off paying to get rid of sweat bees for good than putting yourself in harm’s way.