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Springtime Stings… Dealing with Bees and Wasps

I was on Facebook the other day and saw a post from a long time friend, Sara, and her battle with some wasps in her yard. You would think wasps would be a drab topic, but this lady has so much spunk and attitude that it I was enthralled with her battle! After two stings from some wasps, she turned into a badass wasp killer… she has some inspiring gusto!

I also posted a quick note to her about how to treat the wasp sting. I guess I envisioned her dumping some baking soda on it like you would a bee sting, then cussing out the homemade cure for not working as expected. You see, wasps and bees have different venom. One is alkaline, and the other is acidic.

Natural Remedies for Bees and Wasp Stings

With either bee, wasp, or hornet stings first make sure to remove any stinger (if the pest left one). Grab some tweezers, or anything you have around, to pluck (or dig) that stinger out!

Then, wash with soap and water (handmade soap would be my preference, of course!). If you don’t wash first, the natural oils in your skin will repel the remedies and you’ll have germs from whatever you used to dig out the stinger all over your sting.

Next, apply either baking soda OR vinegar, but not both as they neutralize each other.

  • Wasp and Hornet Venom is Alkaline so combat them with something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice. Just soak a rag or bandage in vinegar and apply to the sting for about 15 minutes.
  • Bee and Yellow Jacket Venom is Acidic so you can neutralize it with baking soda. You can make a paste of baking soda and water (I always have a jar of coconut oil and baking soda around the house that I use too). Just apply to the area and let sit for 15 minutes. After that, you can apply chamomile to help relieve residual itching or swelling. I have a roller bottle of diluted chamomile essential oil that I keep on hand, but in a pinch, a wet chamomile tea bag will work too.

If you are allergic – seek medical attention immediately! The venom can cause you to have difficulty breathing, cause nausea or dizziness, hives, and… well, just get your butt to the hospital!

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Killing Wasps Without any Chemicals

On to the gusto part… I had to actually look up a few ways to tackle killing these critters. I tend to just stay away from them and cheer heartily when I see them buzzing around the garden (my best harvest years were always ones with a hornet nest in the garden). But here’s what I found:

Soapy Peppermint – Pest Be Gone Spray

Apparently, my tried and true soapy water spray should work on these guys. I use this on slugs and any other garden pest that tries to eat my tomatoes!

  • One spray bottle
  • Soapy water (about 1 tsp soap to 1 cup water)
  • Peppermint Essential Oil (about 20 drops per cup of water)

Just mix, and spray! The oils from the soap will help the peppermint stick to the bugs as well as dehydrate them.

Traps… and a Vacuum?

Wasp traps work well if you have a lot of the pets around, and need to keep them from stinging your pets and kids. A wasp trap is basically a simple container that they can fly into, but not out of. Here’s a tutorial on how to make one with an empty soda bottle.

This one got me laughing…. use a vacuum to suck them up! I can just imagine Sara running around her yard with a vacuum cleaner sucking up wasps! She ended up spraying them, and then found the nest, and destroyed it.

If you find a nest or hive…

I also found out that you can detach a wasp nest (at night when the wasps are least active), drop it into a plastic bag, and then leave it out in the sun for a few days to kill the wasps. Hrmmm. I think I’ll pass on that and just go the route of leaving them alone and letting them tend to my garden for me.

If you find a bees hive, don’t kill them or hurt them! You can call a local bee removal service that will come and relocate the hive for you. That will keep everyone from getting stung, and allow the bees to live and pollinate for us.

What Good are Wasps and Bees?

Just in case you were wondering… despite the potential for them to turn into annoying jerks when you’re having a backyard party, these critters do serve a purpose. Wasps prey on other insects and help keep pest insect populations under control. Bees pollinate about one-third of everything we eat as well as grains grown to feed cattle, heck even the seeds that birds eat would be in short supply if we didn’t have bees.

And remember, they will leave you alone as long as you leave them alone. If you are stung they weren’t trying to be jerks, they just thought you were a danger to them (i.e. you were too close to their home).

Want to keep yellow jackets away from your home? Here are a few tips you might want to try!

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The remains of Sara’s wasp tribe – those jerks!
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