Bees loving the pool

Uncle Salty

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2017
223
South Carolina
#1
Our pool has been completed since early February and we haven't even used it yet but the bees apparently think it's pretty great! I noticed them a couple weeks ago hanging all over my ladder and sitting on the solar cover, probably 75-100 at a time. I pulled the ladder thinking that would deter them but they continued to hang on the solar cover so I pulled it for a few days and just resulted in a tree debris filled pool. They've started hanging on the walls around the coping and just kept coming. I called a bee guy and they said if you can't find the source/hive there's not much he could do. I did a little reading and found that mixing Dawn dish soap with water would eliminate them, not what I wanted to do but I also can't have hundreds of bees in our pool when the weather finally warms enough so we can enjoy the pool. I filled up one of those generic spray bottles with 1/3 cup Dawn and 1 qt water and headed out, it works but it was like taking a knife to a gun fight. I then picked up a 2 gallon weed sprayer and filled it up, I should also mention what I read was the key to getting rid of them was to stop them from returning to the hive to bring others back with them. It took me 2 good days of bee patrol and running Mrs Salty out of Dawn but I'm happy and somewhat saddened to say they're gone, I didn't have one single bee around the pool all day today.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
14,653
Tucson, AZ
#2
Bees will seek out a source of fresh water (chlorine and moderate levels of salt doesn't bother them) because they need it for the hive. Pools are perfect for that. Unfortunately, killing them is not the best thing to do as we, humans, need bees to pollinate. Now killing a couple of hundred of them isn't going to amount to a hill of beans, but it would be better to track down the hive and then have a local apiary take them away and give them a better home.

My pool water has borates in it for pH control. The side benefit of borates is that it is quite good at killing bees. So bees don't come to my pool because the scouts never return to the nest....


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Uncle Salty

Uncle Salty

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2017
223
South Carolina
#3
Bees will seek out a source of fresh water (chlorine and moderate levels of salt doesn't bother them) because they need it for the hive. Pools are perfect for that. Unfortunately, killing them is not the best thing to do as we, humans, need bees to pollinate. Now killing a couple of hundred of them isn't going to amount to a hill of beans, but it would be better to track down the hive and then have a local apiary take them away and give them a better home.

My pool water has borates in it for pH control. The side benefit of borates is that it is quite good at killing bees. So bees don't come to my pool because the scouts never return to the nest....


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Yeah I didn't want to kill any but I had no idea where the hive was and couldn't get anyone out to help. I also have 100 lbs of Boric Acid waiting to go in my pool, I need to get the TA down first and haven't had the chance to do that as as of yet.
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
9,216
Evans, Georgia
#4
Would it help to locate a bird bath out far from the pool yet near where you suspect they *might* be hiding a nest?

Bee numbers are so diminishing for unknown (and some known) reasons that I would hesitate to kill *any* bees at this point.

Yippee :flower:
 
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Uncle Salty

Uncle Salty

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2017
223
South Carolina
#5
Would it help to locate a bird bath out far from the pool yet near where you suspect they *might* be hiding a nest?

Bee numbers are so diminishing for unknown (and some known) reasons that I would hesitate to kill *any* bees at this point.

Yippee :flower:
I did locate a bird bath a little further back, but they were having no part of it. I even filled it with pool water.
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,845
Grand Rapids, MI
#6
So, uncle Salty, I am very sad to tell you I suspect you won the battle but may be in for a war ;) I say this as someone who lives across the road from a bee keeper. Bees will truly PREFER your water source, especially with salt. Chlorine is like alcohol to them. My bee neighbors have the entire Grand River at their disposal and yet they come in hoards. And I have borates at 50 ppm.

I have literally begged the bee keeper to mist them in dry spells to prevent them from foraging for water etc. but he doesn't get the nature of the problem (or get that as someone with an allergic sib why I am opposed to sharing the pool.)

I have consulted with more conscientious beekeepers on this and even talked to an entomologist so I'm happy to share what I've learned.

Since I am unwilling to risk poisoning the hives by using Tempo, I too have a Dawn Death tank at my disposal. But I also have some other tips that might help cut down on the discovery of the pool and the number of summer days you spend toting around te Dawn of Death as we call it ;)

1. I'm assuming you've determined that they're honey bees...be certain about this part because if they're sweat or carpenter bees there are completely different approaches and with wasps, some of this would be downright dangerous ;) Bees are social and signal distress but unless Africanized will not be aggressive with you.

2. The next time a bee shows up, bee line it, meaning at dawn and dusk, observe the direction of flight And try to triangulate it. There is the chance that using bee lining tricks you a discover a feral hive which you could then convince a local beekeeper to possibly relocate and domesticate. Given that you had hundreds, this is my suspicion in your case.

Here's an article on how to bee line to find a feral hive... Bee Lining: The Oldtimers Way to Find Wild Beehives | Summer 2010

3. Conceal bright colored pool noodles when not in use. Bees don't actually like open water...they far prefer sucking chlorine from wet spongy things. I now keep a tall cabinet and deck box that all pool toys go into immediately after use.

4. Once you know the general direction of descent, place that bird bath somewhere in the path before the bees can see/smell your pool. Fill it with saltwater from the pool, put a bright sponge in the center, and top up the salty chlorine water daily. You will deceive some this way if you are vigilant.

5. This sounds crazy and came from the entomologist, but a show of extreme violence early on with initial scouts CAN help word get back to the hive that you are hostile territory. We call my husband "Bam Bam" given his ritualistic bee-bashing-with-pool-noodle routine he's developed with theatrical flair. If not too drunk (chlorine really does make the bees drunk) the odd survivor of the death dance will phone home. Be sure to leave a survivor for this purpose.

6. Lastly, since I know personally how much it sucks to have to kill bees, I want you to know that there's a good chance many who show up to your pool are on their last days anyway. Prior to death, bees wander off from the hive to forage for water. Many of these guys are retired and literally are out for a last hurrah. So it might help to consider you are giving them a soldiers death ;) At least, that's what I tell myself...

I hope you are able to locate your hive before late summer and are able to find a beekeeper to relocate it. I had no idea I had a bee keeper across the road until I beelined it. In my case, the news wasn't great, because he's old school and feels the bees know best and that "we all need to share" my pool. In your case, based on the numbers, I believe you may have a hive nearby, possibly feral, so will need to remain vigilant.
 
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Uncle Salty

Uncle Salty

Gold Supporter
Feb 3, 2017
223
South Carolina
#7
Thanks for the info, yes they're definitely honey bees which is why I didn't really want to wage war and kill them. I'll keep the birdbath going and add the sponge as you suggest, hopefully if any return they'll head for it instead of the pool. The bee line article was a good read but there's no way I could do all of that, it's a shame no bee keepers are interested in helping. So the borates aren't working for you? I was planning on using borates anyhow and thought the bee deterrent would be an additional benefit.

Salty
 

Swampwoman

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
3,845
Grand Rapids, MI
#8
The borate may eventually kill them but when I have ten thousand across the road its hard to tell who makes it back to share the news ;) They die if they drown but I've seen just as many sip and zip if the suns setting...

The borates are worth it for different reasons....water silkiness, better stability, sparkle, etc.