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I hate wasps. I like bees. I live in southern England, so we're talking about plants that can grow in a maritime climate. Any ideas?

  • You might plant plants that simple attract bees without attracting wasps (rather than ones that repel wasps). – Shule Aug 1 '18 at 1:18
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I, too, live in Southern England, and a simple answer to your question is no, there aren't plants that repel wasps but attract bees. I don't like wasps either, but they aren't usually a problem until August through to October, at which time they will hang around clumps of cut grass (especially if you use a hover mower), be present on fallen fruits such as apples, are very attracted to the colours orange and yellow, and appear almost instantly should you try to eat outdoors. They are more attracted by foodstuffs at that time of year than they are plants -in the days when there were greengrocers with displays on the street, wasps were always hanging around the grapes and other fruits on display.

There is some evidence to suggest wasps don't like red flowers much, but avoiding other plants they might like also means you'll lose other pollinating insects like bees. Flat headed, flowering plants with yellow flowers (Achillea for instance) are more attractive to wasps, but also to bees. Some information here that might be helpful http://www.pest-control-north.co.uk/blog/how-to-stop-attracting-wasps-to-your-garden.html

To sum up, buying special plants that they may not like isn't necessary - daring to eat an ice cream in the garden wearing yellow clothing in late August may be something you want to avoid though.

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Both wasps and bees are attracted to dilute forms of sugar. Plants that depend on insect visitors (flying such as bees or wasps or terrestrial such as ants) provide that dilute sugar in the form of nectar. So if the nectar is easy to get at then both wasps and bees will come. Sugar is sugar, so the idea of repelling with sugar A and attracting with sugar B will be quite hard to achieve. It might have happened, I don't know, nature is very creative.

What is more likely is that the sugar might be only available to certain insects for mechanical reasons; that is the sugar is locked away unless the insect has the right adaptation to get at it. An example is red clover. Normally the clovers are pollinated by bumble bees since they have the equipment to get at the nectar (see an in-depth discussion here). So you could live in the middle of a field of nothing but red clover, see lots of bumble bees but wasps will not be present because it will be too much work to get at the nectar.

A counter example is that of figs, which are adapted to be pollinated by certain wasps, not bees; again this is mechanical, the door to the nectar is closed to large insects.

  • thanks. I understand that certain plants like mint repels both wasps and bees, even though they presumably have flowers with nectar – Ne Mo Jul 29 '18 at 13:43
  • What is your source of information? See storey.com/article/five-plants-to-help-pollinators under the mint section where they claim mint is good for both bees and wasps. Are we talking the concentrated mint oil or just plants? – Colin Beckingham Jul 29 '18 at 14:01
  • Huh, maybe I got that wrong then. Will research more and report back – Ne Mo Jul 29 '18 at 15:11
  • Flowering plants that rely on pollination of bees, wasps...will never be a repellent. Mother Nature ain't stupid. If you are worried about wasps, lets ID what wasps you have. There are a few types, one is just not aggressive at all. Otherwise, wasps are a backup plan for pollination. Keep an eye out on your property for nests. – stormy Jul 30 '18 at 23:30
  • Our mint attracted bees, and our catnip does. Russian sage does, too. They don't seem to repel them at all. Flies like them, too. – Shule Aug 1 '18 at 1:21

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