How to Get Rid of Bees While Camping

bee on kettle over campfire

Are you headed out to go camping soon? There are many, many things that I love about camping, but I’ll be honest with you. There are some things that I don’t like as well. When we started regularly camping, our family needed to figure out how to get rid of bees while camping. You see, our oldest son is deathly allergic to bees. On his fifth birthday, he was stung by a bee, went into anaphylactic shock, and had to spend his entire birthday in the hospital. Of course, we didn’t know this at the time, but he has a life-threatening allergy to yellow jackets and hornets. Needless to say, finding the best way to keep these pests away was a very important goal for us.

Of course, he has been through a massive amount of allergy treatments and shots, and yes, we always keep an epi-pen on hand, however, we wanted to do more than just be prepared for the aftereffects, we wanted to do what we could to prevent bee stings altogether. When learning all about creating a bee-free campsite, we have found recommendations for insect repellent, natural bee repellents, and even essential oils and other natural remedies. Trust me, we’ve tried them all and now we are going to share with you the ones that we have had the most success with.

How to Get Rid of Bees While Camping

man and woman dealing with bees around campfire

I am not a professional by any means, and I am certainly no pest control expert, but as a bee allergy family trying to find an effective way to avoid an allergic reaction, we do know a thing or two about how to minimize bee exposure during your camping trip.

Carefully Choose a Camping Site

Before setting up camp, make sure that your campsite doesn’t show signs of bee activity. Look out for the following:

  • Honey bees often nest in hollow trees
  • Wasp nests are often found underground
  • Bumble bee hives can often be found in rotten, fallen trees
  • Yellowjackets like to nest in wood piles, in dense vegetation, or underground
  • Carpenter bees can be found in loose wood on picnic tables or structures

Avoid Sweet Smells at Camp

Avoid having sweet-smelling foods or other items at camp. Bees are drawn to citrus smells, as well as lavender and other sweet-smelling foods and plants. Fragrant products are a big draw for bees so it is important to avoid having them at camp. Making sure to pack up or dispose of sweet foods, leftover foods, and especially sugary foods is a great way to keep the bees away. If you are still curious, here is a list of commonly found things at a campsite that create sweet scents that attract bees.

  • Flat Soda
  • Citrus fruits
  • Maple syrup and other sweeteners
  • Sugary drinks
  • Other sweet beverages
  • Food scraps
  • Some hair products
  • Fruit juice and soda should always be closed and stored properly. Empty cans and bottles can be a major attractant for bees (have you ever noticed the strong smell that comes with old soda cans and bottles?). Be sure to keep them stored properly and away from camp.

Keep a Clean Campsite

Keeping a clean campsite will make a huge difference when it comes to keeping those pesky bees away! We have found that a clean campsite is hands down the best solution to avoiding bees while we are camping.

Bees aren’t your only concern. Food, trash and food containers also attract wild animals so it’s always a good idea to keep your space clean!

Avoid Floral Prints and Bright Colors

Bees are attracted to floral prints and bright colors, so be sure to wear more basic, muted colors while adventuring in the great outdoors.

Bring Yellow Jacket Traps with You

Yellow jackets are the bees that my son is most allergic to so we take great care to keep them away! We always bring yellow jacket traps along with us whenever we go camping. We always keep them in our yard and have found them to be really useful, so we decided to always keep them on hand when camping as an added security feature.

You can also bring wasp traps too, depending on what bees are most common in the area where you are camping.

Fill Up Some Paper Bags

Okay, that probably sounded weird but if you fill up a few paper bags with air and place them randomly around your campsite, you can trick other bees into thinking that your campsite is already occupied by bees and they might just pass you by.

We have done this at camp before, but never solely this so I can’t say if this one works specifically, but I know it does in combination with other bee-repelling tricks we have used.

Use a Repellent

If all of the preventive measures aren’t quite working to their potential, consider using a bee repellent. You can use a commercial bee repellent, natural products or even some essential oils that many claim to be a great option for repelling these pesky insects.

Here are some products that we have found to be useful in our battle against bees:

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

We think natural products are our best option, but we also recognize that they aren’t always the best option. That being said, we have found lemon eucalyptus oil to be a great choice for a natural repellent. Bees hate the smell of eucalyptus so diluting this oil in a spray bottle does a good job of repelling them.

Store-bought Repellents

While I definitely prefer to keep it natural, I will admit that we always keep store-bought bug repellent on hand. Again, my son has a life-threatening allergy to bees and I will do anything to keep him safe.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is great for repelling bees! We spray it around our campsite and it works wonders.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla may seem like a yummy scent to us humans, but not so much to bees. Dabbing this on your pulse points or keeping some on the picnic table may help you to repel bees.

These are all pretty simple steps, but they have done wonders for keeping bees out of our campsites.

Before you head out on your next camping adventure, here are some other great posts for you to check out:

Free Camping Planner and Printable Food List

Camping Gear for Beginners

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