How To Keep Bees Away From Your RV
Many RVers love to be outside enjoying nature. Bees are an integral part of nature, doing the huge job of pollinating plants and trees. As they travel from flower to flower, bees collect food to take back to their hives.
Of course, it’s hard to enjoy the natural world when you get stung or your campsite is being swarmed. Bees can be a very real and pervasive problem at many campsites, especially in late summer and fall. Being armed with the knowledge of how to keep bees away from your campsite will help you enjoy nature. It may even save your camping trip from disaster.
Are bees out to sting us?
Honey bees make delicious honey that can be spread on morning toast when we camp. Bumble bees just bounce and bumble clumsily around, collecting nectar from flowers. They’re actually trying really hard to not get in anyone’s way. Most of the time, neither of these types of bees will sting unless they are provoked.
Honeybees and bumblebees only sting when they perceive a threat to themselves or their hives. However, there are honeybee hives in the southern US that have cross-bred with aggressive African bees. These hives are often far more aggressive than regular honeybees. The honeybees that mix with African bees are more likely to swarm people and sting them aggressively. At the end of the day, honeybees and bumblebees aren’t out to hurt anyone. They just want to collect their nectar and go home.
Do bees remember faces?
In 2006, scientists at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England discovered something fascinating: Honeybees can recognize and remember the faces of people that are nice to them. Not only that, but bees also perceive people who try to harm them as possible threats. Bees communicate such information to one another until the entire hive either considers you harmless or a potential threat that needs to be dealt with. So, always be nice to the bees you encounter. You can read more about the published study on Science.org.
How to keep bees away while camping
1. Avoid camping in campsites that have a lot of bee activity, a hive, or a lot of flowers.
When looking for a campsite, check for these things. Usually, honeybees will nest in hollows in trees. Bumblebees nest in the ground or in decaying logs. In both cases, a lot of bee activity will tip you off to a nearby hive.
2. Avoid wearing bright colors.
Bees are always keeping an eye out for flowers to collect nectar from. Accordingly, bees will be drawn to you when you wear bright colors.
3. Don’t smell like a flower by wearing floral or sweet scents.
Wearing fragrances with floral or fruity scents is sure to attract bees. Shampoos, soaps, lotions, and deodorants are all products that sometimes contain floral or sweet scents. Any of these products can attract bees.
4. Keep sweet or sugary foods like fruit, candies, or cookies covered.
Bees love these sweet scents and will come to investigate them.
5. Trick them with fake nests.
Bees don’t like to challenge others of their kind. Hanging four or five small air-filled paper bags around your campsite post can trick bees into thinking your site is already taken.
6. Keep all trash put away and securely stored in an airtight container.
Bees can be attracted to a single apple core discarded in the trash. Keeping trash in an airtight trash bin will ensure that the little guys keep away from your campsite.
7. Use repellent scents around the campsite.
Honeybees and bumblebees dislike certain scents. For instance, vanilla can be a really pleasing scent to us humans, but honeybees think it stinks. So, a few dabs of vanilla extract on the pulse points (wrists, under the chin near the ears) will help keep them away.
Bees also don’t like the smell of eucalyptus or camphor. To keep bees at bay, try sprinkling these essential oils around the campsite.
8. Don’t invite them with food.
Bees will accept the scents of barbecue sauce, sugary sodas, energy drinks, and watermelon as an open invitation to visit you. Keep these items (and their containers) stored inside the RV.
9. Keep a campfire going.
Bees instinctively stay away from smoke. They’ll be persuaded to go elsewhere when you have a campfire going at your site.
10. Use sugar water to entice them away from the campsite.
A feeder gives honeybees an easy food source so they don’t have to travel as much to find food to take back to the hive. You’ll be happy to know that a bottle feeder is very simple to make. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Start with a 1-quart soda bottle.
- Cut up bananas, apple cores, peaches, apricots, and/or cherries. Use whatever you have on hand, with the exception of citrus fruit. Bees don’t like citrus smells.
- Add 1 cup of sugar.
- Add water halfway up.
- Tie the soda bottle from a tree. Be sure to hang it away from your camp. It doesn’t have to be many yards away to be helpful because that’s a long distance for a honeybee to fly.
Bees are a really important part of the ecosystem. Flying many miles each day, these fuzzy little insects do most of the work of pollinating flowers so that fruit can grow.
However, this can be hard to appreciate when they are swarming your campsite. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to keep bees out of your campsite without harming a single one.
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Lynne lives, travels and works full time in the R-Pod 180 with 3 pointers and 1 small but vital corgi mix named Alice. Lynne began full time RVing as an experiment in 2019, but she quickly fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full time RV living. Lynne is a professional dog trainer, offering mobile and online dog training services through her website at www.mydoggeek.com. You can read about her travel adventures on her blog at: https://rpodadventure.wordpress.com/