Are Bees Really Attracted To Perfume?

Bees are attracted to perfume, but not all varieties. In nature, bees prefer some flowers over others, and it’s not only the smell that attracts them. It’s a number of other factors as well, all combining to draw the bee in. The color and shape of the flower and whether the flower is a good source of nectar are all important.

Does perfume attract bees?

Certainly in nature bees are attracted to flowers by their perfume. The question is, are they attracted to the perfume you wear too? Let’s look at nature first.

A bee has two antennae on its face that are covered in thousands of tiny sensors that detect smell. Because of these sensors, bees have a very good sense of smell. They can detect the smell of flowers, water, the colony or even you. Some people even think bees can smell fear!

Flowers combine both perfume and color to encourage the bees to visit. Flowers of the same color have been found to give off the same perfume, even if they are not in the same family. This combination of color with fragrance makes it easier for bees to find the flowers in different weather conditions.

If it’s windy, bees can locate the flower by color, because the fragrance has been dispersed into the wind. If the flowers are hidden by taller vegetation, then the fragrance will be the signal that attracts the bee.

Most people believe bees will likely be attracted to the perfume you wear, particularly if it’s a floral scent, because they think you’re a flower and there’s going to be a nectar reward. For this reason, I don’t wear perfume when I inspect my hive.

I have noticed that, if I have residual sugar syrup on my gloves or clothes, I soon have bees attracted to the sweet scent. It’s the same with leaving a frame of honey behind after a hive inspection. When you return, bees are all over it because they’ve been drawn to the sweet smell and are getting the nectar bounty.

So what happens when the bees reach you and there is no nectar to be had? You probably don’t want all that attention because you may be stung.

One study I’ve read suggests that bees soon learn to discriminate between real flora scents and fake ones by the nectar rewards they give. If the reward was not to their taste, the bees soon stopped coming and went only where the reward was best.

The bees also communicated this information to the other workers in the colony to prevent them from wasting their energy visiting scents that didn’t offer a sweet result.

Are bees attracted to deodorant?

Bees can be attracted to deodorant, particularly if it’s sweet smelling. The same is true of colognes, after shaves and scented hairsprays.

It’s probably a good idea to avoid using these when you inspect your hive, or even when you’re in the garden or area where bee hives are located. Bees will be attracted to you and you’re more likely to get stung.

Are bees attracted to body odor?

Bees will be attracted to strong body odor, particularly if you’ve been exercising heavily and then decide to inspect the hive without showering first. Once again, you may get too much unwanted attention from the bees.

Shower first and use a soap and deodorant that doesn’t smell too strong because this may attract many bees to you. Use products that have a neutral fragrance and save sweet smelling products for when you go out.

Summing up…

Bees are attracted to perfume because it signals that there’s usually a nectar reward to be had. Studies suggest bees soon learn to avoid those that don’t, and visit only those that do.

As well as keeping yourself clean and not smelling too sweet, remember to launder your suit and gloves often to remove any residual honey or sugar syrup so bees aren’t going to be attracted to them when you next look in the hive.

After each inspection, your tools should also be cleaned to remove wax or propolis. Having clean tools means they do their job more efficiently and the chance of spreading disease is reduced or eliminated.

These tips will help you to have a more satisfying hive inspection experience.

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