honey bees and my horses/dogs

Asked April 4, 2019, 2:50 PM EDT

I have had nearly two weeks with an enormous amount of bees in my horse corral, horse shelter, and around my dog kennel. The horse area is the worse. A large area is covered in a layer of bees from about 10am to 6pm each day with many many many more flying around. I have had two savvy bee people out who say there isn't anything to do. One hung a swarm trap from the tree right in front of the horse shelter and just in front of the bees favorite landing area. I have tried garlic powder, peppermint oil, a electric flying insect buzzer, all to make my area not where they want to hang. The black on the ground is ashes from our tree pruning burn as I thought the charcoal would soak up any odors that are attracting them. All failed. Have a video but it wouldn't load. Getting desperate. Need some help please. Kim Grist

Clackamas County Oregon bees

1 Response

The first step is to determine that these are honey bees and not yellowjackets. The photo was too indistinct to discern. But given the time of year and that yellowjacket queens are just starting to build nests, honey bees are the probable culprit.

Bees collect water to dilute honey to feed the baby bees and when the weather gets hot, they collect water to help cool their hive. Honey bees prefer smelly water, most likely because it is easier to “give directions” to a distinct tasting water than it is to a clear source. They especially like salty water and in this case, any excreted minerals from urine.

Since most likely they are collecting water, the answer is to dry the source. Once a source is dry, the bees go elsewhere and are unlikely to return since their lifespan and memories are short.

On the other hand it doesn’t look like the weather is going to be dry for some days, so another option is to turn on a sprinkler to see if diluting the water source helps. But then again, who in their right mind tries to make their horse paddocks muddier than they already are?

Since the bees are not swarming, they will not be attracted to the swarm hive.

Bees sting to defend their hive and they sting when pinched, grabbed, stepped on, etc. They are unlikely to sting while collecting water simply because they are going about their business, which just happens to be water gathering. None the less, it is unnerving to walk fearlessly among a multitude of buzzing bees. We instinctively shy away from those situations. If you move calmly, they should ignore you. It is a temporary situation that should resolve itself as you change the environment of the area.

Good luck and may the bees find water elsewhere.