Many of our favorite herbs and flowers can be beneficial partner plants in the garden. Some repel bad insects, others fix nitrogen in the soil and still others attract pollinators necessary for fruit to develop. If you have a bad and annoying bee population that you wish to repel without chemicals, searching among plant companions may be a good idea. Do marigolds repel bees? Marigolds emit quite a stench and may have the potential to deter some bees from hanging around, at least in high numbers.
Do Marigolds Repel Bees?
Honeybees are beneficial insects that drive pollination to many of our plants. However, there are other insects that we lump into the classification of “bees,” which can be irritating and even down-right dangerous. These might include hornets and yellow jackets, whose swarming behavior and vicious stings can ruin any outdoor picnic. Using natural methods to repel these insects is smart when animals and children are present. Planting marigolds to deter bees may be just the right solution.
Marigolds are common companion plants, especially for food crops. Their pungent odor seems to ward off numerous insect pests, and some gardeners even report they keep away other pests, like rabbits. Their sunny, golden lion-like heads are an excellent foil for other blooming plants, and marigolds bloom all season.
As to the question, “will marigolds keep bees away,” there is no proven science that they will, but a lot of folk wisdom seems to indicate that they can. The plants do not repel honeybees, however. Marigolds and honeybees go together like beans and rice. So increase your marigolds and honeybees will come flocking.
Bees see light differently than us, which means they also see color differently. Bees see colors in the ultraviolet spectrum so the tones are in black and gray. So color isn’t really the attractor for honeybees. What attracts the bees is scent and the availability of nectar.
While the scent of marigolds may be rather repulsive to us, it doesn’t particularly bother a honeybee who is after the nectar and, in the process, pollinates the flower. Does it repel other bees? Wasps and yellow jackets aren’t after nectar in spring and summer when they are most active. Instead, they are seeking protein in the form of other insects, caterpillars, and yes, even your ham sandwich. Marigolds are, therefore, unlikely to be of any interest to them and they won’t be drawn to their scent or need their nectar.
We haven’t really got a definitive answer on whether marigolds can repel invading bee species. This is because even bee keepers seem to differ on whether they can prevent carnivorous bees. The advice we can give is that marigolds are lovely to look at, they come in a wide array of tones and forms, and they bloom all summer long so why not put some around your patio.
If they do double duty as insect deterrents, that is a bonus. Many longtime gardeners swear by their use and the flowers do seem to repel many other pest insects. Marigolds are widely available and economical to grow from seed. In the battle against picnic pests, their attributes seem to add up to a winning experiment with many other advantages.