Sweat bees are the second largest family of Apoidea bees, and they live all over the world. They are often dark and metallic in color; however, some are green, and a few are red. No matter the color, if you encounter them regularly, you probably want to know how to get rid of sweat bees.
Sweat bees get their names because they have a prominent liking to human sweat because of the salt contained within it. Therefore, if you have an active job outdoors, you have likely been annoyed by them many times before. Construction workers and outdoor athletes are the most common groups of people to have issues with sweat bees and want to get rid of them. However, there are many more people in the world with a dislike for them.
Sweat Bees Reputation
Although sweat bees have a pretty bad reputation, they seldom pose a threat to humans. The only time that they can become a nuisance is in the summer when people are sweating and outdoors a lot. Here are a couple of facts that may help ease your worry about them:
- They are not usually aggressive
- A sting will only occur if you press the bee against the skin
- Their sting is the least painful of all stinging insects. Classified as: “Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.” According to the Schmidt pain index.
- The only thing that they want is your sweat.
I know that you are probably still thinking; I don’t like them. However, as you can see here, they are virtually harmless in comparison to some of the more aggressive insects in the world.
Where Do Sweat Bees Get Their Name?
Sweat bees get their name from their constant longing for human sweat. However, it is the contents of the sweat that they want, water, and salt. If there were any more accessible and readily available sources of those two elements nearby, they probably wouldn’t bother humans at all. As humans need high protein levels for extreme activity, sweat bees require salt. The fact that humans sweat both of their nutritional requirements out has given them the name.
What Do They Bees Look Like?
Sweat bees are pretty small in size, ranging from 1/4 of an inch up to 1/2 of an inch. The males are only usually distinguishable from the females by being slightly more slim than the females. Their metallic coloring does give the species as a whole an unmissable appearance, and it can range through the shades of blue, green, bronze, and black.
What Is Their Habitat?
You will find sweat bees throughout the world, with over a thousand species in total. The majority of those species are in the United States, with 44 of them in Florida alone. Depending on the bee, they can be solitary insects, or they can live in colonies of thousands. Even so, both types of bees live in the ground in networks of burrows made by the queen bee. However, solitary bees will live in sections of the den isolated and away from the rest of the colony.
Sweat Bees Activity Peaks
The sweat bees activity will peak in the summer months – whichever they are in your country. However, in the United States, the beginning of a new year for a colony of bees is often between September to December. The state of the colony at this time will be a great indicator of the success of the next year. That is the most common time you will want to know how to get rid of sweat bees.
Do Sweat Bees Sting?
Although sweat bees are not aggressive insects, the females do sting. However, unlike some species of flying, stinging insects, they do not attack humans to sting. The only reason that you may find a sweat bee on you is to collect your sweat for nutrition. Although, if you attack them, try to catch them in your hand, or attack their nest, they will sting you. If you leave them to do their job, they are no threat at all to humans.
Are Their Stings Dangerous?
Anaphylactic reactions to the sweat bee are infrequent, but there have been reports. So, if you are prone to anaphylactic reactions, then yes, they can be dangerous. However, they can hurt to a slight extent. Slight being the operative word. It is the lowest sting pain rating on the Schmidt pain index with a rating of 1.0.
Are Sweat Bees Beneficial?
Yes, in the same way, that all bees are beneficial to nature. All bees, sweat bees included, are responsible for many wildflowers and crops worldwide. The quality of foods, including various meat products, depends on the pollination of bees in general. Therefore, in a word, yes, sweat bees are beneficial.
How To Get Rid Of Sweat Bees
Before we get into how to remove sweat bees, we need to understand the options that you have. Depending on the severity of the problem they are causing, you have three options:
- Kill them
- Catch them
- Repel Them
Let’s now look at the three ways of getting rid of sweat bees in a little more detail:
Killing sweat bees comes in two forms.
- The mass killing of a colony
- Killing a single bee
Killing a colony
Now I would like to hope that, during the rest of this article, you have come to realize that mass killing any bee is terrible news for the whole world. Therefore, you should only use this method in the most extreme and dire states. If you feel like you have an issue that is big enough to warrant such an action, please seek professional guidance and help.
Killing a single bee
Pests are pests. However, when it comes to bees, I am still very wary of the ecological impact that killing a bee a day could create. In my opinion, I see it like this:
One thousand people kill one sweat bee a day for a year, which is 365,000 bees killed in one year. I bet many more people kill many more per day. However, I do know that there are times in which you may need to get rid of one or two. For example, if you are allergic, you will not take any risks. Now, with that said, I would like to move on to the next two options that you have.
Catching Sweat Bees
Catching sweat bees is a more difficult task than killing them. However, trying to catch them to relocate them is much better than catching them to kill. There are many bee and wasp traps that are on the market, all with a single goal – to kill.
You do that by providing enough bait in them so that the bees drown. However, if you have frequent visitors to your home, and intolerance to them, but no intention to harm the population, you can use the same traps but with less bait.
Using only a small amount of sugary liquid will attract the bees to the trap instead of you. After you have caught a few of them or finished outside, you can release them back into the wild to continue.
Alternatively, if you are un/lucky enough to see a whole swarm of the sweat bees, you can attempt to catch them all to relocate.
Catching A Swarm
Getting rid of sweat bees by catching them in a swarm in extremely difficult. However, it is possible if you get the timing right.
Bees will often swarm for only an hour or two at the most. Fight off the urge to frighten them away, and instead, quickly cover yourself up as much as possible. While sweat bees pose no threat to humans, they will sting if they feel threatened. However, one good point about a swarm of bees is that they have no home yet, which means they will not be protecting anything.
- Use a container large enough to contain the whole swarm. Swarms can be anything from the size of a baseball to the size of a basketball or more.
- If the swarm is on a branch, you can cut the branch and lower it into the box.
- Cover the box. Providing you have the majority of the bees inside the box, it is likely that you have the queen, too. That is because the queen is usually in the center of the swam. Most bees will follow the queen, so if you have the queen in the box, the others should follow.
- If you can, leave the box for a little while to allow the other bees to follow the queen into the box. If they are fanning the opening to the box, you have caught the queen too.
- You can now try to move them carefully away from your home. To do this, you have to be relatively quick while trying not to disturb them too much. That is more difficult than it seems.
If you have any concerns, you should call for professional assistance.
Repelling sweat bees is, by far, the most humane and recommended way to reduce the problem that they cause to you. The issue is that it is challenging to repel them. Due to their nature and love of sweat, the best preventative method is to shower often. However, here are a few other options for you to try:
- Rub your exposed skin with peppermint oil. Make sure that you use it in a carrier oil, so it does not burn your skin. Sweat bees no not like the smell of peppermint.
- Keep your yard maintained well enough not to have exposed soil for them to create their nests:
- Higher lawn cuts
- Flower beds surrounded with mulch instead of uncovered soil
- Grow mint plants.
- Use fans to circulate the air. Either indoors or outdoors, bees prefer hot, humid, and moist environments. If you keep these to a minimum bu circulating air, you are likely to see less of them by you.
Sweat bees may be a nuisance, but unlike fleas, they are precious to the whole world. Killing them should only be a very last resort. Please try to use the repelling methods before doing anything else. If you have any doubts about what you should do with bees, you are much better to call professionals.