A sunlit afternoon, the sound of children laughing, the aroma of barbecued delights – picnics are the epitome of leisure and fun. Yet, there’s one uninvited guest that often threatens to ruin the mood: bugs! And if you’re particularly concerned about buzzing bees, you’re not alone. Learning how to keep bees away from picnic areas is a skill every outdoor enthusiast should have. In this guide, we will delve deep into methods, strategies, and answers to the most common questions about keeping our picnic sites bee and bug-free.

Location, Location, Location

Before diving into tactics, let’s begin with the basics. The location of your picnic can determine the level of bug attention you receive.

Prime Bug-Free Locations:

  • Elevated Areas: Bugs, especially mosquitoes, are often found in lower-lying areas. Choosing an elevated location can help reduce their presence;
  • Away from Water: Bodies of water are breeding grounds for many insects. Stay clear of stagnant water sources in particular;
  • Open Spaces: Trees and shrubs can house bees and bugs. Picnicking in open spaces minimizes the chances of them coming over.

The Power of Scent

In the realm of outdoor leisure, especially during picnics, leveraging these olfactory preferences can make the difference between a peaceful meal and a pesky intrusion. There are several natural repellents that can help in ensuring the former:

  • Lemon & Cloves: A delightful and refreshing scent for humans, the combination of lemon and cloves has an opposite effect on bees. Simply slicing a lemon in half and studding it with cloves produces an aroma that bees find unattractive. By scattering these fragrant lemon halves around your picnic spot, you can create an area that’s less inviting for these buzzing guests;
  • Mint: Beyond its well-loved culinary applications, mint carries another mantle as a natural insect deterrent. Its crisp and invigorating scent is less than appealing to many bugs. For those looking to harness its repellent properties, spreading fresh mint leaves around the picnic area or brewing a pot of mint tea can be effective strategies;
  • Citronella Candles: These are a popular choice for many outdoor enthusiasts. Emitting a scent that’s overwhelmingly pleasant to human noses, it surprisingly acts as a repellant for bugs. Strategically placing lit citronella candles around a picnic spot can keep those unwanted insects at bay.

However, while certain scents can repel insects, others can attract them. It’s equally important to be aware of these, especially when dining al fresco:

  • Sugary Drinks & Foods: The sweetness that humans often crave is also a magnet for bees and wasps. When picnicking, it’s wise to opt for closed containers for sugary beverages. This not only keeps the drink fresher for longer but also ensures that it doesn’t become a beacon for unwanted insect attention;
  • Raw Meats: Flies, in particular, have a penchant for raw meats. If on the menu, these should be kept well-covered and stored in a cool place until it’s time to place them on the grill or cook. This precaution ensures that the meat remains fresh and fly-free.

Gear Up

picnic blanket

A picnic can be a serene escape, but not when bugs decide to invade. Investing in specific anti-bug gear can elevate your picnic experience by keeping these unwelcome guests at bay. Let’s explore some of these game-changer tools:

  • Mesh Food Covers: These are a picnic enthusiast’s best friend. They are not only lightweight and easily portable but serve as the first line of defense in keeping bugs off your carefully prepared spread. Just drape them over your dishes, and they’ll provide a barrier against any insects attempting to share your meal;
  • Portable Fans: Ever noticed how a gentle breeze can keep flying bugs away? Portable fans mimic this effect. By setting a few small battery-operated fans around your picnic area, you create a gusty environment that’s less inviting for airborne pests;
  • Picnic Blankets with a Waterproof Base: Dampness is an open invitation for many bugs. To ensure your seating area doesn’t become a magnet for them, opt for picnic blankets that feature a waterproof base. This design ensures the ground’s moisture doesn’t seep through, providing a dry and bug-free seating area.

Stay Clean

It cannot be emphasized enough: cleanliness plays a pivotal role in your picnic experience. Maintaining a clean environment can drastically reduce the likelihood of bugs encroaching on your space.

  • Clean As You Go: Once you’re done enjoying a dish, it’s prudent to clean up immediately. Wiping down surfaces and promptly packing away leftover food can significantly reduce bug attractions. This method is especially effective for keeping bees away from sweet or sticky picnic residues;
  • Garbage Management: Bugs are adept at locating garbage. Ensuring you use sealed bags or bins for waste, and disposing of trash as soon as possible, can make your picnic spot less alluring to them;
  • Avoid Sticky Spills: Accidents happen, but immediate action is crucial. A spilled drink or sauce can quickly become a bug magnet. Swiftly cleaning any spillages can prevent a minor accident from turning into a bug feast.

Post-Picnic Precautions

Packs of food

The end of a picnic doesn’t mean the end of bug vigilance. Taking a few steps can ensure you don’t inadvertently transport bugs back to your living space.

  • Shake Out Everything: Before packing up, take a moment to shake out all your belongings – be it blankets, clothes, or bags. This simple act ensures you dislodge any critters that might have hitched a ride;
  • Pack Foods Tightly: Leftovers are a delightful reminder of a picnic, but they can attract bugs if not stored properly. Ensure any leftover food is sealed in airtight containers, keeping both the food fresh and bugs out.


Knowing how to keep bees away from picnic outings is a combination of location selection, scent management, the right gear, cleanliness, and post-picnic precautions. With these strategies, you’re set to enjoy a delightful, bug-free picnic!


Q: Why are bees attracted to picnics?

A: Bees are primarily attracted to sweet smells, which are often abundant at picnics due to sugary drinks, fruits, and desserts. They’re also drawn to strong scents and floral patterns on clothing.

Q: How to keep bees away from picnic drinks specifically?

A: Use drink covers or lids. If you’re using cans, cover them with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and poke a straw through. This will prevent bees from diving in.

Q: Can I use bug sprays to keep bees away from my picnic?

A: While bug sprays can deter mosquitoes and some other pests, they’re not as effective for bees. Natural repellents like lemon and cloves or mint are better choices for bees.

Q: Are there any colors I should avoid wearing?

A: Yes, bees are often attracted to floral patterns and bright colors like yellow or blue. Opt for neutral or light pastel colors.