Learn how to make your summer picnic a bee free event


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Does the smell of barbecued chicken, veggies on the grill and fresh-squeezed lemonade have you salivating this season? Well, it also appeals to some unwanted guests of the stinging variety, too.

Bees like what you like.

“These enticing aromas often attract bees and wasps, which may become aggressive as they try to take a bite out of your burger,” said Susie Coelho, lifestyle and gardening expert.

Coelho’s solution to annoying bees at your family barbecue: “Share your feast. Put out a small plate of whatever you’re serving before the human guests arrive, particularly something sweetened with barbecue sauce.

“Once the bees discover this snack, carefully move the plate to a location away from your entertainment area,” said Coelho.

Social insects.

“Bees and wasps are highly social insects and communicate with each other, relaying direction and distance of nectar and pollen sources, and yes, whatever you’re serving.

“Once they spread the word, these stinging insects will flock to your ‘decoy’ plate, leaving you, your guests and your feast alone,” she adds.

Why go to this trouble? “Although these stinging insects are essential for pollination and pest control, their stings can cause skin irritation, swelling and itching – even death in individuals allergic to their venom,” said Dewey Caron, professor of entomology at the University of Delaware.

Bee free tips.

Coelho and Caron offer these additional tips to keep outdoor entertaining bee free:

* Before entertaining outdoors, be sure to check the area for possible nests.

* To prevent yellowjacket and bee infestations near where you entertain, keep holes and entry spaces in wood decks and siding caulked. Each nest can grow to more than 2,000 insects.

* Stinging insects are fond of the same foods you are. Be sure to keep any food containers outdoors tightly closed to avoid giving off an inviting scent.

Use cups with lids when serving sugared drinks, such as soda, iced tea or lemonade. Never drink from an unattended can, as bees sometimes venture inside.

* Avoid wearing bright colors and using perfume/cologne, scented hairsprays, scented deodorants, scented candles, etc., when outdoors.

Citronella candles may be effective on mosquitoes, but they do little to repel bees or wasps.

* As the summer months progress, the bee/wasp population grows and their natural food supply dwindles, making your barbecue or picnic lunch even more appealing.

Late summer and early fall is actually the worst time for possible bee and wasp stings, so opt for outdoor gatherings earlier in the summer season.

* Those people who have systemic reactions to bee or wasp stings should carry an Epi-kit at all times. Epi-kits contain the drug epinephrine to counteract the allergic reaction, allowing more time to seek immediate medical attention.

* If you experience shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and other abnormal symptoms after a sting and do not have an Epi-kit available, seek emergency medical attention immediately.


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