Does Vinegar Kill Bees?

There have been a lot of concerns about the bee population, given their standing as the ever-important free pollinators of flowers and crops while also producing the sweet honey that we love. However, there is also concern about the danger of commercial pesticides that are available on the market, so a lot of backyard gardeners are resulting to the more “natural” remedies to pests and weeds, and one of the more common remedies around is using vinegar.

But is vinegar safe to use around bees, or are they potential bee killers?

Vinegar, especially horticultural vinegar, has a high concentration of acetic acid. It is commonly used in the garden as a substitute for the chemical herbicides available on the market. However, vinegar and vinegar-based sprays are harmful to bees and can kill them. Even the smell of vinegar can disorient bees and drive them away.

Now, let us learn more about the relationship between vinegar and bees and how they impact our busy pollinators.

Does vinegar kill bees?

Vinegar is one of the most common condiments and preservatives found in our kitchens. It has a sour smell and taste that we love to add to our foods. But aside from its cooking uses, vinegar is also often used as a natural pesticide.

Regular household vinegar contains 5% acetic acid, while horticultural vinegar contains four times as much, or almost 20% acetic acid. The remaining fluid in the vinegar is commonly water [1]. Since vinegar is considered more natural, it is also commonly used as a pesticide to repel or even kill insects, including bees.

While bees are generally considered to be an essential aspect of our food production, some people are allergic to bees and can have severe allergic reactions if they ever get stung. So, vinegar is an easy way to repel bees and a good and cheap alternative to the more dangerous pesticides [2].

Different types of vinegar can be combined with water to form a concoction that is used as a spray. You can simply add one part of vinegar to four parts of water to a spray can and spray it directly into the bee or the hive to repel and kill the bees you want to go.

When applying the vinegar solution to a bee hive, it would be best to do it during the night when they are resting to avoid any unnecessary aggression. Since this solution will likely kill the bees, it would be best to remove the dead bees from your yard because they can still sting you even if they are dead.

However, if you don’t intend to kill the bees, you may opt for a more bee-friendly solution or repellant.

What types of vinegar are dangerous to bees?

There are various types of vinegar that you can use to repel or kill the bees that you want to remove, but the common distinction between the types of vinegar used as a pesticide is between household and horticultural vinegar.

What makes vinegar as it is is a compound called acetic acid that gives it a sour smell and taste. The typical acetic acid content per volume of vinegar is usually around 4-8% but can be higher depending on the application [3]

Vinegar is toxic to the bees, and whatever type you use will likely work to kill or repel bees.

1. Household Vinegar

Ordinary household vinegar like white vinegar, rice vinegar, and apple cider vinegar have at least 4% to 8% of acetic acid and can all be used to get rid of the bees inside your house or inside your yard. When using your household vinegar in your spray, follow the one-part vinegar and four-part water solution. 

Vinegar solutions are also used as an effective herbicide to kill weeds in your yard. So, if your primary target is only the weeds and not the bees, you can spray your yard later in the afternoon, so the bees are already in their nest resting.

2. Horticultural Vinegar

Another type of vinegar is what is called horticultural vinegar. The main difference between this type of vinegar is its acetic acid composition, which is four times that of regular household vinegar, reaching up to 20% acetic acid per volume.

Horticultural vinegar is often used as a potent herbicide to kill weeds in the yard because of its high acetic acid concentration of 20% [4]. So if you’re going to use horticultural vinegar in your bee solution, it can be more potent in killing the bees.

However, also because of the high acetic acid, there is a danger for the user and can cause a chemical burn on your skin and eyes, so use proper protective gear like gloves and goggles when handling this type of vinegar for your solution.

What species of bees can vinegar kill?

While vinegar is becoming one of the go-to solutions for some backyard gardeners when dealing with weeds in the yard, thinking it is safer and more natural. However, this solution can be disastrous for the bee population that has been threatened for some time for various reasons.

Vinegar solutions are harmful to all bee species, like honeybees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, and sweat bees. This typical herbicide alternative can drive them away because of the strong scent or even kill them.

Why you should get rid of bees

Though we always have our concerns regarding the bee’s welfare, there are also times when we need to move and take action to get rid of them, especially if our family and house are threatened. Here are some reasons why you should get rid of bees using various methods, including vinegar sprays.

1. Bee Allergies

Different people with bee allergies will have different body responses. However, for the younger kids with bee allergies, getting rid of the bees is more crucial, especially if they are in your house. A vinegar spray can be a safer choice of pesticide inside the home, but the odor can linger a little longer.

2. Bee Stings

Another common concern of people towards bees is the danger of getting stung. And while only the worker bees or the female bees have stingers, the risk of getting stung only goes higher if there are swarming bees.

When this happens, and the danger posed by bees to the people living in the house becomes apparent, there is no other choice but to repel them. Hopefully, they would leave peacefully and not get sprayed directly.

3. Aggressive and territorial bees

During the swarming season, the risk of bees making a hive inside your house or in your yard is higher. If this happens and the bees are aggressive, it can pose a danger to your family or pets. You can use your vinegar spray to push them back.

Why you should avoid using vinegar on bees

Now that we have already established that vinegar can kill bees and are an effective repellant using your everyday condiment, we also talked about the reasons to get rid of bees. However, there are also reasons to avoid using vinegar which can kill them.

1. It is lethal to bees.

Vinegar can be used to kill bees, so if your intention is only to drive them away, there are other ways to do that without killing them. You can use other repellants that are not deadly to these excellent pollinators.

When dealing with hives inside your house or yard, you can contact local pest control or beekeepers to relocate them instead of killing them.

2. We need bees on our flowers

Bees are excellent pollinators of plants and flowers, not to mention they are also free. So if you need to drive them away, you can try other solutions that will not kill them. It is also better if they can find their way back to your plants to ensure they are well-fed.

3. Bee population is already declining

The population of bees around the world has been declining, which causes concern to many people, so it is better for the environment if we can co-exist with the bees and avoid killing them.


Vinegar is a household ingredient we commonly use on our food for its sour taste and is also often useful as a cleaning product. However, a little-known application of vinegar is as a pesticide, particularly an herbicide and an insecticide.

One part of vinegar added with four-part of water can create a concentration that can be used as a spray that can drive bees away or disorient them. It can even be enough to kill them.

However, since bees are an essential part of our ecosystem, it is important to preserve them as much as possible, so it is best if you can try other bee-friendly alternatives that won’t kill them.


[1] – Oregon State University, 

[2] – United States Environmental Protection Agency, 

[3] – Wikipedia – Vinegar, 

[4] – University of Maryland,