click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Buzz Off

Buzz Off

Sukkot is coming and you know what that means – bee season!


Everyone has a weakness. For Superman, it’s Kryptonite. For Vampires it’s garlic. For my wife, it’s chocolate.

And for me, it’s bees.

Everyone has a weakness. For me, it`s bees.

Yes I am a grown man with a job, a family, a community that mildly respects me yet I am still afraid of bees.

And this isn’t any normal fear mind you. This isn’t like, “oh there’s a bee flying in my direction and I am feeling a little uneasy.” This is more like. “I SEE A BEE DOWN THE STREET, GET OUT OF MY WAY! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES PEOPLE! TAKE COVER! SAVE YOURSELVES!”

The source of my irrational fear dates to my childhood. I was five years old and a bee landed on my nose and my sister said, “Gideon, freeze! If you move, that bee will sting you and then you are gonna DIE.” And this bee must have thought my nose was a Lazy-Boy because it curled up, and made itself comfortable for hours. And then it invited some friends.

So as you can imagine, the High Holidays are a confusing time for me. On Rosh Hashanah we have the widespread custom of dipping the apple in the honey. I am not opposed to this custom per se, and will even dip the odd apple in the occasional jar of honey, but I can never do it at ease. I always feel like I am going to be the victim of a revenge attack by a gang of bees angry that I stole their yellowy goodness. Kind of like a bee drive by shooting.

But in general, bee-wise, Rosh Hashanah I can handle. It’s Sukkot that is the problem. We all know Sukkot as this beautiful holiday where we sit in the Sukkah that we (or our handyman) worked so hard to build. We invite friends over. We have beautiful meals together. That is, until the bees show up.

Because as it turns out, bees also love Sukkot! They love to fly around your Sukkah and eat your food and generally taunt you and ruin your holiday. Well, I for one won’t stand for it any longer! We need to take our streets back! Or sukkahs -- you know what I mean. That’s why as a public service I have culled the internet for the greatest in anti-bee weaponry and present them to you, as a pre-Sukkot gift.

Dryer Sheets

Judith Bronwyn writes on Yahoo about cruelty free ways of keeping bees away. Why someone would not want to be cruel to bees is beyond me. But Judith suggests that you “Simply fold a fresh dryer sheet and put it in the pocket of whatever clothing you are wearing… you can even rub one across your skin before going out to keep the bees away.” Yes that’s right. You can scare the bees away and smell like a towel all at the same time.

Bee Repellant

There are some general insect repellant products on the market that may work to ward off bees as well. Alternatively, writes that you can actually make your own repellant. The recipe is as follows, “Use lemon peels or orange, mint leaves or sage leaves, rubbing alcohol or witch hazel. Make a strong tea with the peels and leaves, strain it, add alcohol and add the spray spritzer, and apply to skin. ” The good news is you have successfully repelled the bees. The bad news is, you`ve successfully repelled your family and friends as well. You can try to win them back by putting yourself into an oven for 15 minutes at 450 degrees because you are now a lemon meringue pie.

Remove Bee Attractions has various recommendations that involve removing things from your property that might attract bees including flowers, trees, pollen and water. Congratulations. You no longer have bees but your property value has crashed. Oh, you also now live in the Mohave Desert.


I know there`s a difference between wasps and bees, but to me, they`re both scary, so it`s best to cover everything. There`s something called a `Waspanator` that you can hang up around your Sukkah that to a Wasp apparently looks like a nest belonging to another wasp family. This will result in the wasp thinking that this room is taken and if he knows what`s good for him, he should move on. This is kind of like what my parents did to me when I came back from college and they rented out my room and I was forced to sleep at my friend`s house for the summer.


There are commercially available traps like this one from Home Depot. Alternatively, you can also make one yourself if you are up for a DIY project. has an interesting one:

“Take a banana peel, cut it into thin strips and then insert the strips into an empty 2 liter bottle. Combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of vinegar, stir it up, and then pour the mixture into the bottle. Now fill the bottle with water up to 2 inches below the neck. Tie a piece of string around the neck of the bottle and hang it from a nearby tree branch. What makes this one of the most effective of all home remedies to keep bees and bugs away is the fact that the bees and bugs find the contents of the bottle more attractive than anything else. They get caught in the sticky concoction when they fly into the bottle and they end up drowning. ”

Ya! I especially like that last part – they end up drowning!

OK maybe my anger is a little misplaced. After all, I`ve never even been stung before. Maybe getting stung isn`t that bad. Maybe I should just get over this childhood fear of bees.

Or better yet… let`s get out the Waspanator! Hasta la vista, bees!

Wishing you a happy and bee-free Sukkot!

If you have any bee-repelling advice of your own, by all means, please post it in the comments section below.

September 27, 2012

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Chanah, October 9, 2012 11:17 AM

bees are not wasps

I used to call all stinging flying insects bees. My husband corrected me, as he helped a family member with his beehives. Bees are usually called honey bees because they're the ones who make the honey. Wasps do not. In Israel and Europe, we have smaller bees called Italian bees. They are totally different from the honey bees I knew in the US as they're not aggressive at all. I'm not afraid of these bees. But the US must have the Africanized bees which are much more aggressive and threatening. I would kill wasps but not the honey bees. We need honeybees for pollination, even if we decided honey wasn't needed. Bees are threatened with colony collapse in our time, so they must be treated like endangered species. Do not kill them, but a beekeeper will come and collect unwanted bees and start a new hive, so if you have bees in your attic etc., call a beekeeper, not a pest exterminator. And if you have unwanted wasps, try spraying them with vodka- in the nest at night after they have all been tucked in for the night. They will at least die happy.

(3) James Brown, October 6, 2012 5:23 AM


I work with honey Bees all are girl bees and in the hive are called drones have NO stinger they are the largest in the hive and the Queen No stinger. Honey bees dont want to die and don't want to stingonly to protect the Queen or protect them self but they will die for that only. I very seldom use all the crazy things used in bee keeping and when working in the box with the bees they won't bother me move slow they will ignore you move fast they will bother younot only that. They do Not like dark clothes! So if you love black bees will go after YOU! JIm

(2) ruth housman, October 5, 2012 11:58 AM

stars and "stripes"

There is in the word "bee" certainly the aural connectivity with "be" as in to be, or not to be. In this case, you are afraid of bees, and yes they do sting, and some are deathly allergic to bees and can go into anaphylactic shock. And no one wants bees and wasps hovering around one's special Sukka celebrations. So I honor your fears and admit to not wanting myself, to be stung. Beekeepers are amazing, and some of them develop a tolerance and I have seen them covered with bee stings. Once in Israel this happened, as I was working among the orange trees a man came into the kibbutz so covered. But bees are wise and wonderful. They have deep communication skills, and they live in hives, and make amazing symmetric housing, that is a marvel. And they have a really interesting social organization. Maeterlinck's The Children's Life of the Bee was a book I have always cherished from my childhood. Look to "his" name: Master LInk, because bees are, important to our lives, as in how they pollinate, just as mushrooms with their spreading mycelia, nourish the roots underground and connect to many trees, bringing water. Honor the environment of which we are part, as we are part of Nature. In deep ways, They are US. I know it. I see it. I write about this. I see in words themselves a story. Mystery, can be split if you listen, into My Story. The bees, these little marvelous striped insects, are so integral to life itself. Honor them. Dispel them when you must, but realize, how important they are, to your very sukka. As in without them, there would be no such fruits, no such flowers, no such celebrations.

(1) Tova Saul, October 5, 2012 6:33 AM

another method

Once I was eating at a pancake restaurant and there were lots of bees around people's plates, trying to sip some maple syrup. A waitress came out with a tiny paper cup filled with maple syrup and placed it off to the side on the ground. All the bees sat on the edge of the cup and sipped the syrup, like African animals at a watering hole. Humans have so successfully created a hell on earth for domestic and wild animals; We should start thinking of humane ways to deal with the relatively minor problems animals cause us.

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment