Selective focus of ammonia solution or ammonium hydroxide in glass amber bottle inside a chemistry laboratory

Will Ammonia Kill Bees?

A common question household owners might face is: Will ammonia kill bees?

The short answer is no; not on its own. While ammonia is highly toxic, it isn’t effective in killing bees alone. That said, ammonia is still rather harmful for bees upon ingestion or inhalation. 

But why does ammonia kill bees and what other chemicals should you avoid spraying them with? Are there more natural ways to fix your bee infestation problem? Read on to learn all the answers!

How Does Ammonia Kill Bees?

Ammonia, a chemical blend of nitrogen and hydrogen, is widely employed in various industries. In its gas form, it emanates a potent, toxic odor, proving harmful to bees and other insects.

The toxicity of ammonia to bees is two-fold: ingestion and inhalation. Exposure to excessive amounts can be lethal, jeopardizing their respiratory systems and overall well-being. 

Utilized as a deterrent or elimination method, ammonia disrupts the natural patterns of bees as well. When strategically sprayed, its pungent scent creates an unwelcome environment, prompting bees to steer clear of treated areas.

Note that while ammonia is effective in repelling bees, it may not necessarily lead to their immediate demise. The impact unfolds gradually, affecting their foraging and pollination capabilities.

Dead bees on wooden boards. Death of bees

How Ammonia Can Affect Bees

As beekeepers, it’s crucial to grasp the multifaceted impact of ammonia on our industrious pollinators. 

When bees encounter high levels of airborne or waterborne ammonia, the consequences can be severe. It affects their physical and psychological well-being.

Physically, exposure to elevated ammonia levels breaks down the protective wax coating that shields a bee’s body. This breakdown opens the door to infections, often leading to a grim outcome—death. 

The respiratory and digestive systems of bees also bear the brunt of ammonia exposure. It results in a range of health issues and reduces their lifespans.

Psychologically, the effects are equally profound. Bees exposed to ammonia may become disoriented and confused, disrupting their usual navigation abilities. This disorientation can lead to a loss of direction, causing bees to struggle finding their way back to the hive. 

Moreover, ammonia can interfere with bees’ communication methods and may even incite aggression.

Starvation becomes a looming threat too, as ammonia reduces a bee’s ability to locate food sources effectively. Absorption through the skin adds another layer of risk, leading to serious health complications and, ultimately, death.

When is It Okay to Use Ammonia on Bees?

While ammonia isn’t a direct method for eliminating bees, its potent odor can serve as a deterrent, potentially steering them away from specific areas. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution and explore alternative, bee-friendly methods for addressing bee-related concerns. 

After all, using ammonia around bees is generally discouraged due to its potential toxicity. The strong smell can be unpleasant to bees, and its fumes may have harmful effects. 

Beekeepers, and those dealing with bee infestations, should prioritize the well-being of their colonies. Remember: take precautions when considering the use of ammonia near hives.

What Chemicals Kill Bees?

When it comes to beekeeping, steering clear of certain chemicals is crucial to ensure the well-being of our essential pollinators. Here’s a breakdown of chemicals that can have harmful effects on bees:

1. Neonicotinoids: A Buzzkill for Bees

Neonicotinoids, commonly used insecticides in agriculture and urban settings, pose a significant threat to bees. Absorbed by plants, these chemicals find their way into pollen and nectar, making them toxic to bees. 

The exposure to neonicotinoids has been associated with adverse effects on bee populations, including impaired reproduction and foraging behavior.

2. Borax: A Last Resort with Risks

Borax, also known as sodium borate, possesses toxic properties effective against insects, including bees. While it can be a last resort when other options are not feasible, its use should be approached with caution. 

Borax has the potential to impact non-target organisms and the environment, making it a choice to consider sparingly.

3. Bee Sprays with Caution

Various bee sprays on the market may contain harmful ingredients such as carbaryl (Sevin), chlorpyrifos (Dursban), or synthetic pyrethroids (e.g., permethrin or cyfluthrin). 

While designed as preventive measures to control bees in specific areas, these liquid sprays should be used with caution to avoid unintended harm to our buzzing companions.

Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Bee Colonies

When faced with unwanted bee colonies in your yard, consider these natural and humane remedies to encourage relocation without causing harm:

1. Vinegar Spray: A Bee-Friendly Deterrent

Spray white vinegar solution

Create a simple yet effective vinegar spray by mixing equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle. 

Applying this mixture near the hive acts as a deterrent without resorting to harsh insecticides or toxic chemicals. This environmentally friendly approach encourages bees to find a new location.

2. Gentle Bee Cluster Removal: A Beekeeper’s Technique

Experienced beekeepers often employ gentle methods, such as brushing or shaking bees into a cardboard box. 

After transporting the box away, placing it in the shade until nightfall allows flying bees to join the captured group. Sealing and removing the box after dark ensures a safe relocation.

3. Citronella: Nature’s Repellent

Known for its mosquito-repelling properties, citronella can also encourage bees to leave when sprayed around the hive. This non-toxic method provides a natural way to address bee colonies while respecting their importance in the ecosystem.

4. Non-Toxic Bee Traps: Safely Relocating Bees

For those seeking to avoid harm, non-toxic bee traps with attractants can be purchased. These traps safely capture bees, allowing for their secure relocation without resorting to lethal measures.

To Sum Up

So, will ammonia kill bees? Not on its own, but it’ll still pose a significant threat on the bees’ lives in the long run. 

Humane alternatives, like vinegar sprays and gentle bee cluster removal, offer effective solutions. Embracing non-toxic approaches, such as citronella and bee traps, ensures a pest-free environment without compromising our essential pollinators.