If you have a pool, you want to keep bees away from it so you can cool off during warm weather, but this is easier said than done. After all, bees need water, too.
To keep bees away from your pool, you'll need to learn a little bit about what makes the bees tick. Why are there always bees around your pool? How do you keep them away so you can enjoy a sting-free summer?
If you see a bee in the pool, try and give it some space. A bee drowning in the pool is more concerned with getting out and drying off than stinging you, but it might sting if you try to touch it or remove it with your hand. Bee stings are painful and can cause severe reactions in certain individuals, so be careful.
What Do Bees in the Pool Look Like?
Bees prefer to land next to a water source and drink from the edge with their feet securely planted somewhere solid. In the wild, they sometimes land on aquatic plants in the water. If there isn't somewhere ideal to land, they sometimes end up in the water by mistake and start to drown, creating a miniature bee-sized racket complete with buzzing and flapping galore.
The 'bee' in your pool could be a honeybee, bumble bee, wasp, or hornet. If you wish to identify it, start by looking for fuzz on the insect's body. If it's a beneficial pollinator, it will appear slightly fluffy, but if it's smooth and sleek, it's probably a hornet or wasp.
Be especially careful around stinging pests that are drowning—they'll be agitated and stressed. Don't scoop them from the pool with your bare hand, and instead, use a pool net or cup to avoid stings.
Signs of Bees in Your Pool
Finding bees in your pool is the most surefire sign that you have bees in your pool, but where they're coming from may not be as clear. If you continually find bees in your pool, try to identify what species is present, as this will help determine if there's a nest nearby. The term 'bees' is often used as a general label for anything yellow and black that flies and stings. The problem in your pool could be due to bees, wasps, or hornets.
If you want to keep these pests out of your pool, start by identifying which pest is present and ensure there aren't any nests in your yard or around your home. Look for a distinct flight path or 'bee-line' coming and going from one particular spot.
Seeing insects buzzing around a specific plant isn't necessarily the sign of an active nest. It could be foraging behavior. Wasps and bees need to eat, too! When looking for an active nest or hive, you're looking for a distinct hole or spot with insects coming and going from it. This is likely the entrance to their nest.
What Attracts Bees to the Pool?
Bees have fine-tuned sight, perfectly designed for spotting flowers where they can drink nectar and pick up pollen, but they aren't very good at spotting water sources with their eyes. They use their smell for that.
Pool water is pungent. Whether chlorinated or salt-treated, your pool emits a strong smell that appeals to the bees' water-detecting sense of smell, telling them that a drinking source is nearby. Unfortunately, this attraction to your pool is largely unavoidable. Focus on providing alternative water sources, give them space when possible, and most importantly, try to appreciate the beneficial work bees do.
How to Keep Bees Away From Your Pool
If you have a pool, you're likely to see bees around it. This may not be what you want to hear, but it's important to be realistic when it comes to pest control.
Like us, bees like to cool off near the water on a hot day, and they need reliable sources of water to drink from. Your pool provides both of these things, and to top it all off? Chlorinated and salt-treated water attracts bees because of the smell.
A pool is not an exceptionally safe place for a bee to drink from. It's too easy for them to end up drowning. Consider providing them with a safer and more secure water source so they'll (hopefully) leave your pool alone. The more ideal and alternative water sources you can provide, the less likely bees are to be frequently landing in your pool.
Since it's hard to deter bees from a water source, aim to provide the bees with some safer, more discreet places to find water instead. Fill a bird bath with the pool water that attracts the bees. This will give the bees somewhere to land and safely drink (and hopefully deter them from drowning in your pool).
Bees vs. Wasps, Hornets, and Yellow Jackets
When trying to keep bees and other stinging pests away from your pool, start by identifying them. This will tell you whether you should try to live at peace with them or locate and eliminate their nest.
Bees (including honeybees and bumblebees) are fluffy and tend to nest in places like hollowed-out stumps, ground nests, and birdhouses. This can make their nests challenging to spot. Luckily, these fuzzy little pollinator friends are mostly docile, preferring to go about their daily work without being bothered. Leave them be when possible, and seek to give them alternative water sources to try and get them away from your pool.
Paper wasps are sleek and smooth with varied coloring, dangly legs, and a long body. They are not as aggressive as hornets and yellow jackets. They're likely to leave you alone and go about their (mostly) beneficial business. If you're seeing them around your pool, keep your eyes open, especially when it comes to your roofline and eaves.
If you see a hanging, open-faced nest shaped like an umbrella, this indicates a paper wasp nest. Small nests can easily be knocked down earlier in the season, but larger nests can present some challenges, especially if you're sensitive to stings. Consider calling in the pros if you don't feel comfortable removing and treating the nest yourself.
Bald-faced hornets are white and black and also build paper nests, but their nests are closed balls and typically have a more conical shape near the bottom where there is a hole for them to enter and exit from. They prefer to build their nests around the limbs of trees and shrubs.
Bald-faced hornets are known to be aggressive, especially if you get too close to their home. If you find their nest, be sure to give it space and don't get in their way. There are DIY treatment options for bald-faced hornet nests if you want to save some money, just be sure to treat from a distance, stay out of their sight, and keep away from their direct flight path.
Yellow jackets are smaller than paper wasps and bald-faced hornets, with smooth sleek bodies and yellow and black markings. They are generally aggressive. They don't typically just up and attack people, but they like to build their nests in wall voids and underground holes. They are very sensitive to vibration. A lawnmower passing by or someone running through the yard is often enough to agitate them, and if you accidentally stick your foot through their nest, you're going to want to run somewhere out of their sight! Due to their aggressive nature, many homeowners opt for professional treatments when they find a yellow jacket nest on their property.
Where do bees in the pool come from?
Bees in the pool probably came from a nearby nest. The nest could be in the landscape, or, if they're honeybees, maybe you have a neighborhood beekeeper nearby! As annoying as this may seem, honeybees are generally pretty docile, and they won't hurt you if you don't hurt them.
Will bees in the pool go away on their own?
If bees are nearby and you see them in your pool, they're unlikely to go away on their own. Bees are very attracted to pools, so they're likely to be around. Focus on providing them with alternative water sources to try and deter them from using your pool to cool off.
Do bees in the pool sting?
Avoid scooping bees and wasps out of the pool with your hand. If you scoop one up and it feels like it might get squished, this could prompt it to sting. If you wish to remove the bee from your pool, use a cup or pool net instead.
Bee sting, Mayo Clinic
Prevention and Treatment of Nuisance Honey Bees around Your Home | Mississippi State University Extension Service.
- How Do I Keep Bees Away from My Pool?, Backyard Beekeeping