Bees and humans have a lot in common. Bees are attracted to plants that have light, floral smells while they are repelled by strong and/or unpleasant smells. Many commercially produced insect repellents use this concept. Citronella oil is made from a lemongrass variety called Cyboposon nardus. Dried wormwood has also been used for centuries as an insect repellent inside the home and in the garden.
No Bee Zones
Creating bee-free zones in the garden requires some strategic planning. A border of strong smelling plants needs to be created around the garden space. The plants' leaves and/or stems will need to be crushed or bruised so that the oils are released into the environment every time the gardener is in the garden. A bee-free zone is not limited to the garden but can also include patios or anyplace where bees are not wanted. Just place a plant with a strong smell in a container and put on the porch, patio or display in window boxes. This will repel bees from areas where humans relax.
An alternative approach is to dry strong smelling herbs in a bundle. Then place these bundles around the garden on the ground. To release the aroma, crush the dried leaves in the bundle while gardening.
Bee Repellent Spray
A bee repellent spray is made from wormwood. This wormwood tea is made by combining 8 oz. of wormwood leaves with 4 pints of water. Bring this to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Let the solution cool and strain. Combine this liquid with 1 tsp. castile soap and place in a spray bottle. Do not spray this solution on young plants. The absinthe in the wormwood will drip off the leaves and into the soil. Absinthe causes the stunting of young plants. Also do not use on plants that are going to be consumed by humans. The absinthe can be toxic to humans and animals. To apply wormwood tea, spray the unwanted insect directly.
Strong Smelling Herbs
There are several different plants that produce a strong smell. This includes lemongrass, eucalyptus and wormwood. The aroma from these plants are strong enough to discourage bees from the area.
Unpleasant Smelling Plants
Plants that are repulsive to bees include the carrion flower and the dragon arum. The carrion plant (Stepelia flavirostris) produces a flesh colored flower that smells like rotting meat. There are other plants that produce this type of aroma and include different orchids and the male flowers of the carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua). The dragon arum (Dracunculus vulgaris) is a plant that produces a bloom that is blood red and smells like feces.