Honey Bees have taken over my salt water pool

bigpaws12December 22, 2010

First, let me just clarify- these ARE honey bees, not sweat bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, mason bees, Cicada killers or anything else that might try and trick me in to thinking it's a bee. I've unfortunately killed enough of them to examine them up close and personal, and they are, indeed, bees. They are also Wild bees (or domestic bees that took off). Here's the crux of the problem. I never noticed bees much in my yard (they are here, just not a probem) until last year, when we installed an inground heated salt water pool. The pool was finished mid-spring and my kids were swimming May 1 Or rather, they WANTED to swim, but hoards of honey bees behave like the pool is THEIR PERSONAL water supply and NO ONE, not person, not dog, is allowed near it. Now, I've read things like "don't have flowers around your pool" and that's a big roger... actually I DO have flowers but it's a shrub, doesn't bloom til fall, and is NOT part of the problem, plus it's mainly visited by the bumblebees in particular, and it's staying. This particular group of bees shows up with the sun. They are not lured by my vegetable garden or roses or english garden on the other side of the yard. I am sure they are nesting in the woods behind us which are not very navigable, filled with venomous snakes once it's warm enough (see: Vet bills from copperhead strikes) and I have not been able to find any "path" the bees take other than "somewhere in the woods behind the neighbor's in the protected preserve area". I am not really interested in killing bees (I'm a gardener. I plant everything, hope it grows and even leave my garden open for foraging critters through the winter... the deer and squirrels love me!). Unlike the wasps that come dip down for a harmless little sip, these bees literally patrol the area and aggressively try to remove you from "their" area. Only it's MY area! I want to rid myself of them, preferably by deterring them, but will happily poison the bejesus out of them if it means my children can swim, and I can swim instead of standing on Bee guard. Killing them does no good because of course more just come, and they smell their dead little friend, and they know the crazed woman with the pool skimmer net is out to get them, and it's game on!

Again, because I know I'm going to hear it, these are NOT wasps, yellow jackets, sweat bees, bald-faced hornets, mud-dawbers, paper wasps... they are indeed your classic, mildly furry, striped but muted honey bee. I have had many experiences with bees and this is not at ALL like ANY bee behavior I have ever witnessed. There are no nests on my property. It's like they drop out of the sky just to harass us.

I'm kind of a tree hugger most of the time, I plant things i know the wildlife will enjoy, and I actually just adore bumblebees and have taught my children to get up close and personal to watch them, but these honey bees will have NONE of it, and their attitude lasts for most of the summer. They seem to chill out come fall when I then have to be vigilant about the wasps! Oddly enough, they are less bothersome than the bees.

I've seen ideas like a "bee bath" which won't work. I know this, because I already have alternate water sources on site, and perpendicular to the pool is a natural wet-weather creek where they have plenty of fresh tasty water. They are preferring my pool which is why I thought they might be sweat bees at first, but they are not. Just plain old honey bees.

Can I lure these bees away with something more attractive? I really don't want to kill them, I just really do NOT want them at the pool area. I am thinking if I can lure them once it warms up, perhaps I can get a beekeeper to come get them, and I can go back to talking to the bumblebees who are much nicer company. HELP!

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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

First, if they are using your pool for water, they are probably close by, which you probably already know.
You mentioned alternate water source, that seems to me the best thing. Remember, it has to be there 100% of the time. If it goes dry even once, they may stop using it. I don't know if putting a feeder right by the alternate water will attract their interest, but may be worth trying. Then you may want to try a barrier to make it hard to get to the pool. They make pool covers out of heavy duty pool grade vinyl that are a little like bubble wrap. These can be cut to fit the exact shape of your pool. You can cut yours so that it is a little snug by say, 1/2 an inch and the edge rides on the side of the pool, making it very difficult for the bees to get to the water. Once they are forced to take up a different source, they should show far less interest in your pool. Added plus of the cover, it keeps the pool cleaner and you should be able to start swimming 6 weeks earlier because it will warm up more. Covers run about $150 to $400 depending on the size of your pool (maybe only $40 for a hot tub)
Maybe some who knows more about it could comment on whether or not they are going after the salt and if you should consider salting the alternate source??
Ultimately, you may have to call your county and see if they have a bee removal program for bees that are a problem.
Just a note that I have never had my bees be the least bit aggressive around their water source. They get water in one of my nursery pots, and I work all the pots right beside and all around that one and they never give me a notice. Makes me wonder if you have africanized which are much more aggressive and swarm/attack in dangerous numbers, and should be removed anyway.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2010 at 1:38PM
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I am also having a problem with bees swarming our pool. Does anyone know a beekeeper in Scottsdale AZ

I love bees and don't want to jeopardize them but my family is getting very scared because of the number of bees.
Thank you

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 9:18PM
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I would pour a gallon or two of Vinegar in the pool.

Here is a link that might be useful: removing bees

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 9:02PM
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Bigpaws - Did you ever come up with a solution?
We have three bee hives. We had a standard hot tub and rarely had any bees on it. This winter we replaced the hot tub with a salt water tub, and now the bees are all over it. Thinking it must be the salt drawing them in. Going to try putting a salt block out by the hives, but wondering if you came up with any solutions?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 7:37PM
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Pretty powerful stuff!

Here is a link that might be useful: Insectacide

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 8:35PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I don't think poison is the way to go, ...you might have killed off some hives.
Cyfluthrin is highly toxic to bees with an LD50 of 0.037 mg / bee

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 12:29AM
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It's the salt/minerals they want. Bees use it to cure the honey. Put salt licks out or a bird bath with salty water and cover the pool to make it inaccessible and force them to go to the alternative source.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 6:45PM
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