When planing a day in nature that includes food (Picnic, Barbeque, Camping) you should have in mind that during spring and summer bees and wasps are very active in gathering nectar and food.
The smell of BBQ, meat, fruit, and sweet beverages will bring them to you. Also, know that even perfumes and clothing is something you have to choose wisely to avoid being targeted by these insects. As a preparation for my next picnic, I have looked up for all tips on how to enjoy your day outdoor without bees and wasps.
Here are the suggestions on how to keep away wasps and bees from your picnic (including BBQ) or camping area
How to handle food outdoor (Disguising and covering the food smell with mint)
Food outdoor is an open invitation for wasps and bees. So when you are bringing out the food on the table place some natural repellent such as mint leaves or even marigold flower. They will not just repel the insects but it will also mask the scent of the food. An additional bonus is that in this way you will mask your own perfumes as well.
Place some dryer sheets around the place you are sitting and even hang them inside umbrella or on back of the chair (make a hole on the end of the sheet and pull a string through it to make a hanger)
The table cover or picnic blankets should be in simple colors, make sure not to use floral prints and bright colors that will bring wasps and bees to check it.
For the napkins and plates, white is the best but boring I know so if you use them in different colors or even floral print make sure you have done all other precautions to avoid bees detecting it. It sounds like a secret mission but better to be prepared than your day outside ruined.
When making the BBQ make sure to keep the meet covered as much as possible.
Use containers with lids for fruit and vegetable and all ingredients that has a scent that attracts bees and wasps.
Use only clear plastic cups for sweet drinks in case some bee or wasp find their way inside you will be easier to spot it an avoid being stung (if you are able get cups with lids)
Avoid wearing strong scents
I have found many examples of people attached by bees and wasps because of their perfumes and body lotion. Even sun cream can be irresistible for the insects looking for nectar.
So here is the list of things that can help you to avoid that.
First, you have to know that they have the ability to pick up a scent from large distances and for that, you should avoid strong deodorants, perfumes, fruity and floral body lotions, scented sun crème. Even fabric softener or scented detergent will make your clothes appealing for bees and wasps.
And here is the advice what to use on the body instead of perfume
Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association although recommends wearing insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient like DEET or Picaridin to protect yourself from mosquitoes and ticks. People found out that this products works on bees and wasps as well
After reading this i did some research about this products and found that a lot of people like Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin has a nice smell for us but will keep away not only bees and wasps but also other insects like mosquitoes. In case you need stronger protection you can use either
Ben’s 30% DEET Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula, or
REPEL Plant-Based Lemon- Eucalyptus Insect Repellent or
Light or pastel-colored clothing (Avoid flowered designs, avoid black and colors with strong contrast)
Avoid wearing shiny objects earrings and jewelry that reflects the sun
Wearing a hat will also help because bees natural predators are hairy and bees mistakenly consider our hair as a sign that the enemy is after their nest. So wearing a hat reduce the possibility of detection.
If possible avoid flip flops because you can stamp or stumble on wasp or bee by accident
Another advice not so popular if it is too hot outside bur wear long sleeves and
As a repellent use dryer sheets just put one in your pocket or purse but make sure it sticks out a bit to create an invisible barrier around you
Make a decoy away from you
Before you start taking out the food prepare the bait that will attract the wasps and bees away from you.
Most popular home maid bait that i found on-line is a mixture or natural ingredients.
Take a bowl and start pouring soda, sugar, fruit juice and maple syrup. Mix it well and the bait is ready so no wasp or bee can resist it due to it sweet sent. When you set it up away from your picnic or camp area wait for a while. Usually, it takes up to half an hour for the bees and wasps until they detect it and start gathering around it. Now you are ready to bring your own food out to enjoy a picnic without unwanted guests.
In the case of wasp encounter keep calm
In case you find yourself face to face with a bee or a wasp try to stay calm and do not try to make them go away by swinging your arms at them. It will only make them more aggressive. I found from my personal experience the best way is to ignore them and move away till they are gone. I know this is not easy especially for my wife that has a strong urge to fight them off but I always ask her to cover her eyes and I will make them go away (it worked so far)
Do not kill waps because they release pheromones that are a signal for other wasps to come and rescue so that way you are attracting more wasps to your location.
Choosing Your Picnic or Camp location
Before you set up your picnic area check if there are any trash cans nearby. That will attract all type of insects that will also visit your picnic table and potentially ruin your day.
Check for nests in the area or just look for bees or wasps flying back and forward in the area, if you see them most likely it is their main highway to the nest so avoid it.
In case the grass is tall you should avoid because bees like to nest there and also a usual spot for thick so 2 problems you should avoid
Also, look for abandons structures that is a favorite spot for nesting
Repellents for Wasps and Bees
One of the effective ways to keep them away is to either make natural repellents or buy them in the local store just make sure you have it with you.
Most popular natural bee repellent are Mint, Eucalyptus and Citrus oil and you can find recipes for homemade sprays online. Here a suggestion for repellent based on Essential Oils
Herbalist Karen McGeorge Sanders suggests this recipe for the spray
You will need 1⁄2 ounce citronella oil,1⁄4 ounce lavender oil,1⁄8 ounce pennyroyal oil,1⁄8 ounce tea tree oil,1⁄8 ounce jojoba oil and for the base use 16 ounces rubbing alcohol or vodka and you have the spray you can spray on clothing, tents, you can also spray it on the paper strips or rags and hang it around.
I have also found out that very effective and easy to make is mothball deterrent. You should take a couple of pantyhose and cut off the feet. Place some mothballs inside and tie it up. Place them around the area where you picnic or camping even hang it on the trees and you are set.
Another natural repellent can be the maid of lemongrass, peppermint oil, and citronella. Due to it natural ingredients, it can be used on children and even pets. Apply it on hair, wrists, collars and socks
Keep the space around you clean
Make sure you cover all the food that you are not eating
Clean all food leftovers immediately and remove all plastic cups that are not in use and especially ones that contain sweet drinks.
Make sure that the bins are sealed to prevent smells from attracting unwanted visitors.
How to prepare your backyard for BBQ free of wasps
In case you are planning a BBQ or picnic in your backyard and do not want to have bees and wasps as guests, you should due to a few things
Check for nests around your backyard, pay attention to secluded places sheds, playhouses for kids that is not in use,
In case you locate one call professional to properly remove it because if you have honeybees they will relocate them because they are vital for our ecosystem and currently endangered so you will be helping your planet.
Cut all the tall grass you have on your property because bees love to nest there.
Remove all the garbage and close bins properly to avoid smells that will attract unwanted guests
Place repellents that will make your backyard unappealing for insects (Suggestions for repellents are in section repellents for bees and wasps)
Start a campfire
If camping or making a barbecue you could start a campfire to make smoke. For the bees smell of the smoke is very stressful and they start to run for their life so it will make them stay away. Make sure your fire is well protected if you are not experienced check the instructions for making a safe campfire.