Do Marigolds Repel Bees: Learn About Marigolds And Honeybees

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Many of our favorite herbs and flowers can be beneficial partner plants in the garden. Some repel bad insects, others fix nitrogen in the soil and still others attract pollinators necessary for fruit to develop. If you have a bad and annoying bee population that you wish to repel without chemicals, searching among plant companions may be a good idea. Do marigolds repel bees? Marigolds emit quite a stench and may have the potential to deter some bees from hanging around, at least in high numbers.

Do Marigolds Repel Bees?

Honeybees are beneficial insects that drive pollination to many of our plants. However, there are other insects that we lump into the classification of “bees,” which can be irritating and even down-right dangerous. These might include hornets and yellow jackets, whose swarming behavior and vicious stings can ruin any outdoor picnic. Using natural methods to repel these insects is smart when animals and children are present. Planting marigolds to deter bees may be just the right solution.

Marigolds are common companion plants, especially for food crops. Their pungent odor seems to ward off numerous insect pests, and some gardeners even report they keep away other pests, like rabbits. Their sunny, golden lion-like heads are an excellent foil for other blooming plants, and marigolds bloom all season.

As to the question, “will marigolds keep bees away,” there is no proven science that they will, but a lot of folk wisdom seems to indicate that they can. The plants do not repel honeybees, however. Marigolds and honeybees go together like beans and rice. So increase your marigolds and honeybees will come flocking.

Planting Marigolds to Deter Bees

Bees see light differently than us, which means they also see color differently. Bees see colors in the ultraviolet spectrum so the tones are in black and gray. So color isn’t really the attractor for honeybees. What attracts the bees is scent and the availability of nectar.

While the scent of marigolds may be rather repulsive to us, it doesn’t particularly bother a honeybee who is after the nectar and, in the process, pollinates the flower. Does it repel other bees? Wasps and yellow jackets aren’t after nectar in spring and summer when they are most active. Instead, they are seeking protein in the form of other insects, caterpillars, and yes, even your ham sandwich. Marigolds are, therefore, unlikely to be of any interest to them and they won’t be drawn to their scent or need their nectar.

We haven’t really got a definitive answer on whether marigolds can repel invading bee species. This is because even bee keepers seem to differ on whether they can prevent carnivorous bees. The advice we can give is that marigolds are lovely to look at, they come in a wide array of tones and forms, and they bloom all summer long so why not put some around your patio.

If they do double duty as insect deterrents, that is a bonus. Many longtime gardeners swear by their use and the flowers do seem to repel many other pest insects. Marigolds are widely available and economical to grow from seed. In the battle against picnic pests, their attributes seem to add up to a winning experiment with many other advantages.

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17 Plants to Control Pests October 26, 2014

One of the great things about gardening is that in some ways your garden can take care of itself. Now I’m not endorsing abandoning your garden chores completely, but there are a few things that you can do to make your work a little easier. One of these things is to select plants for your garden that will help control insect pests.

Certain plants contain properties that either invite beneficial insects or repel harmful insects. Beneficial insects prey on pests that cause damage in the garden. Ladybugs and praying mantis are good examples of beneficial bugs.

Using plants for pest control not only cuts down on your workload, but it also reduces the amount of insecticides that you use in your garden. And fewer insecticides means more good bugs, which in turn means help in controlling bad bugs.

Remember that what works in my garden may not work in yours. Every garden is different with its own microclimate, soil type, and pest control issues. It is important that you experiment to find out what works best for your situation. With this thought in mind, it also helps to choose plants that are native to your area. This way beneficial insects will already know what to look for.

Artemisia – This plant produces a strong antiseptic, although not unpleasant aroma that repels most insects. Planted in drifts it can also deter small animals. My favorite variety is ‘Powis Castle’. I prefer to use this plant in flower borders and not in my vegetable garden because it produces a botanical poison.

Basil -The oils in basil are said to repel thrips, flies, and mosquitoes. I plant basil alongside my tomatoes for larger, tastier tomatoes. However, basil and rue should not be planted together.

Bee Balm – I love this plant because it attracts bees to my garden. It is another plant that you can grow with your tomatoes.

Borage – This plant is a real workhorse in the garden. It repels tomato hornworms and cabbage worms and attracts beneficial bees and wasps. Borage also adds trace elements to the soil. This is an annual but readily comes back each year from seed.

Catnip – I think that this plant repels just about everything, except for cats of course! Use it to keep away flea beetles, aphids, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ants, and weevils. I use sachets of dried catnip to deter the annual parade of ants that invade my kitchen. My favorite variety of catnip is ‘Six Hills Giant’ because of its proliferation of sky blue blooms.

Chives – Chives are one of my favorite herbs. Not only do I love the flavor but their grassy foliage and round flower heads also add so much interest to my garden. You can plant chives to repel Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies. It has also been said that chives will help prevent scab when planted among apple trees.

Chrysanthemums – When I do use an insecticide I use one made from chrysanthemums called pyrethrum. This all-natural pesticide can help control things like roaches, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, and I like to use it to control ants in certain parts of my garden. In the garden white flowering chrysanthemums are said to drive away Japanese beetles and C. coccineum, commonly known as Painted Daisy, kills root nematodes.

Dahlias – I have a renewed appreciation for these old fashioned favorites. Dahlias repel nematodes and the blooms are great for adding bold splashes of color to flower borders and fresh arrangements.

Dill – I always find a place for this plant in my garden. Dill is best planted with cucumbers and onions. During the cool season I plant it with my lettuce. Dill attracts hoverflies and predatory wasps, and its foliage is used as food by swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Tomato hornworms are also attracted to dill, so if you plant it at a distance, you can help draw these destructive insects away from your tomatoes. Dill repels aphids and spider mites. I like to sprinkle dill leaves on my squash plant to repel squash bugs.

Four O’Clocks – This plant is a favorite food for Japanese beetles. However, because of its poisonous foliage rarely do they get to finish their meal. It is important to note that Four O’Clocks are also poisonous to people and animals, so avoid planting it if you have small children or pets.

Garlic – I could write endlessly about garlic. I love the stuff. In addition to its great taste and health benefits, garlic planted near roses repels aphids. It also deters codling moths, Japanese beetles, root maggots, snails, and carrot root fly.

Hyssop – This is another one of my favorite plants. Hyssop is great for attracting honeybees to the garden.

Lavender – I can’t imagine my garden without lavender. I just love its fresh scent and delicate blue blooms. Lavender is a favorite among many beneficial insects and also repels fleas and moths.

Marigolds – The marigold is probably the most well-known plant for repelling insects. French marigolds repel whiteflies and kill bad nematodes. Mexican marigolds are said to offend a host of destructive insects and wild rabbits as well. If you choose marigolds for your garden they must be scented to work as a repellant. And while this plant drives away many bad bugs, it also attracts spider mites and snails.

Nasturtiums – I plant nasturtiums with my tomatoes and cucumbers as a way to fight off wooly aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. The flowers, especially the yellow blooming varieties, act as a trap for aphids.

Petunias – I plant petunias throughout my garden just because I love them so much. As an added benefit they repel asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, a range of aphids, tomato worms, and a good many other pests.

Sunflowers – I use sunflowers as a way to draw aphids away from my other plants. Ants move their colonies onto sunflowers. The sunflowers are tough enough that they suffer no damage.

Marigolds for Honey Bees

Also known as Tagetes erecta, Marigolds are widely cultivated, hardy and long-flowering, with single cultivars better for honey bees, these having been observed as offering up to a medium source of both nectar and pollen. Double cultivars are of little or no value to them.

Not only are Marigolds good for a visit by your local honey goddess, they are also fantastic to use as an insect repellant in your veggie garden. The pungent smell repels unwanted visitors like whiteflies, cabbage worms and tomato hornworms, also known to protect from harmful nematodes that live in the soil.

Believe it or not, a good placement of Marigolds in containers on patios, porches or near seating areas will also help to deter Mosquitos.

They are too a great medicinal plant to add to your healing garden, with teas and tinctures known for use in treating and healing cuts and sores, with natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties helping with sore throats, mouth ulcers, gingivitis and tonsillitis.

Marigolds are very versatile flowers and enjoy full sun, hot days and grow well in dry or moist soil, needing very little in way of care. They are good companion plants for nearly all plants.


Saving our bees is not just about making less toxic environments for them, but too about focusing on what we feed them. Like us, they need a balanced diet. Pollen and nectar from a diverse choice of flowers protein from pollen, and carbohydrates, sugars, from nectar. Bee-effective and plant Good Bee Food, for you and your honey bees.

Click here and select your province to find more great plants for honey bees or follow click here for a great selection of herbs, succulents and ground covers, creepers and crops, to name a few that will grow you garden buzzy.

The Bee Effect consulted with Chef Schalk Vlok and his muse to find out why the Marigold sparks the imagination and how it could add depth to our kitchen and pantry, whether baking, brewing teas, making pesto’s and more. Click here to be inspired!

Magical Repelling Powers of Marigolds — Myth or Fact?

Last July I was out in the vegetable garden, when a neighbor gardener approached and asked, “What are you doing?” I responded, “Smashing Mexican bean beetle larvae.” My neighbor gave me a puzzled look, followed by a smirking smile, as if I was committing a gardening no-no. I just had to ask, “You’re not having a beetle problem on your green beans?” He smiled and said, “Of course not I plant marigolds with my beans, and they keep the bugs out of the bean patch.” WOW! Could this be the silver bullet in controlling this obnoxious pest?

Now that the gardening season is over and the cover crop is planted, I’ve got a chance to catch my breath from sowing, planting, mulching, weeding and harvesting. Did I mention weeding? Anyway, now that I have a little time to reflect back on the garden season as to what may or may have not worked well, I’ve been returning to that conversation with my neighbor about the wonders of the marigold. The seed catalogs are starting to show up in the mail, and the planning for next year’s garden is in the beginning stage, so before ordering a ton of marigold seeds, now would be a good time to do a little research on the magical repelling powers of the marigold plant. I’ve heard marigold stories for years, how marigolds will repel every garden pest known to mankind, including bugs, snails, rabbits, ground hogs, and deer! I’ve even heard that it has been used to target and kill selected weeds. This sunny annual has been employed as a companion plant for generations just to do that — repel pests from the garden. Do they really benefit the garden as a repelling machine or are they just pretty and their repelling powers just a gardening myth?

Marigolds belong to the aster family (Asteraceae), genus Tagetes. Their natural range extends from the southwestern United States into Argentina, with their greatest distribution being in south central Mexico. Approximately 50 species are known, but in general, the three most common are African marigolds (T. erecta), French marigolds (T. patula) and Signet marigolds (T. tenuifolia). However, regardless of their name, all marigolds are native to subtropical America and have been cultivated in Mexico for over 2,000 years.

Tagetes patula, commonly called French marigold, is a compact annual that typically grows 6-12” tall and features single, semi-double, double or crested flowers (1-2” diameter) in shades of yellow, orange, red and bicolor. Their pinnate leaves with toothed, lance-shaped leaflets are aromatic.

French Marigold (Tagetes patula)

Tagetes erecta, commonly called African marigold, Aztec marigold, American marigold or big marigold, is native to Mexico and Central America. Big marigold may be the most descriptive of its names because plants are noted for their large flowerheads. They typically grow from 1-4’ tall and feature huge, mostly double-globular flowers (2-4” diameter) in various shades of yellow, orange, and white. Foliage and flowers are aromatic when brushed or crushed. Triploid F1 hybrids (T. erecta x T. patula) combine the large flowers of the African marigold with the more compact size of the French marigold into vigorous plants with 2-3” diameter flowers on stems reaching 10-18” tall. These triploids are largely unaffected by high heat and usually bloom all summer.

African marigold (Tagetes erecta)

Tagetes tenuifolia. Signet marigolds are compact, mounding plants with smaller flowers and leaves than most other marigolds. Yellow, orange, golden, or bicolored flowers are held either well above the fine-textured, dark green foliage or tucked in with the foliage, depending on the cultivar. This plant doesn’t have that overwhelming marigold scent but has a light, citrusy smell.

Signet marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia)

Fact or Fiction

For generations, many vegetable gardeners have planted marigolds in their vegetable patches to repel pests. However, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support the notion that marigolds actually repel pests. Research conducted at Rutgers University concluded that marigolds failed to repel cabbage, carrot and onion pests. In fact the USDA lists a total of 15 pests that attack marigolds included on their list are aphids, Japanese beetles, snails, and spider mites, just to name a few. On the other hand, researchers at the University of Vermont have reported that marigolds have been effective in luring pests away from other ornamental plants.

Although science has yet to prove that marigolds actually repel pests from vegetable crops, there is scientific evidence that marigolds CAN be an important tool in controlling certain nematodes. Nematodes are tiny worms, usually microscopic in size. Nematodes that feed on plants — called plant-parasitic nematodes — have spear-like mouthparts used to puncture plant roots to obtain nutrients. As a result, plant-parasitic nematodes can seriously damage or even kill crops, turf, and ornamental plants.

How marigolds help fight nematodes

Marigold roots release a toxic chemical (alpha-terthienyl), and the presence of this chemical inhibits the hatching of nematode eggs. Therefore, control of the nematode population is achieved by interrupting the nematode life cycle.

One drawback with using marigolds for nematode control is that the benefit is not realized until the following year. To be effective the marigolds must be planted before the vegetable crop — at least 2 months before — and must be planted at the same location where the vegetable crop is to be planted otherwise, no benefits will be gained from the marigold root exudates. For example, California research showed that tomatoes grown after marigolds had significantly lower numbers of root galls due to root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne incognito). In addition, the tomato yields were higher (root length, shoot weight, number and weight of fruits were all higher in plants grown after Tagetes).

Varieties Matter

Care should be taken when purchasing marigolds for controlling nematodes. That’s because “not all marigold varieties control all types of nematodes.” For example, the California research mentioned above revealed that particular varieties are more effective at controlling root-knot nematodes. In that experiment, the “Single Gold” variety of Tagetes patula outperformed other varieties. You’ll get the best results if you determine which types of nematodes are in your local soils, and you can do this by sending soil samples to a nematode assay laboratory. (look at the chart in this article identifying marigold species and varieties by their resistance to and effectiveness against particular types of root-knot nematodes).

Attracting Beneficial Insects

In addition to helping control nematodes, marigold flowers attract beneficial insects that not only pollinate, but also help control bad bugs. Beneficial insects attracted to marigolds include: hover flies, lady bugs and parasitic wasps.

To date there is very little scientific evidence that the aroma of the marigold plants actually repel pests, however it is a generally accepted scientific fact that marigolds help to control nematodes and attract beneficial insects that aid in controlling unwanted pests.

There is growing concern about pesticides’ non-target effects on humans and other organisms, and many pests have evolved resistance to some of the most commonly-used pesticides. Together, these factors have led to increasing interest in non-chemical, ecologically sound pest management. The marigold is not only pretty but offers the gardener another arrow for the quiver in the bug war. Who wouldn’t want to plant a beautiful plant that was edged out by the rose for our national flower. I know I will!

Thanks for stopping by The Garden Shed. We members of The Garden Shed Team wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season.

6 Bee Repelling Plant Species

Several plants possess bee repelling properties and can be used safely without any incidence.

When using these plants, the results are much better as they drive away these insects without poisoning or killing them while also allowing you to gain back control of your property.

Bee repellent plants include Citronella, Mint, Geraniums, Eucalyptus, and Marigolds. Others are Pitcher Plants, Pennyroyal, Wormwood, Basil, and Cucumber. This isn’t an exhaustive list of all bee repellent plants.

However, we’ll be focusing on these few by discussing how they work, how to use them, and also find out if there are any side effects associated with their use.


For these plants to thrive, they’ll need to be planted in areas with adequate sunlight. What more? Well-drained soils are ideal for growing citronella plants.

  • How it Works

Citronella plants give off a strong smell that permeates your environment making it unwelcoming to bees.

In other words, bees are irritated by the plant’s odor. This makes it much easier toward these pests off as all you need to do is plant as many citronella plants as you can.

  • How to Use

Using citronella plants for bee control isn’t difficult. First, you need to ensure that the area where these would be grown has well-drained soils.

What more? Adequate sunshine is necessary for growth. It doesn’t matter whether citronella is planted indoor or outdoor. Such plants should be placed where sunlight reaches them easily.

  • Side Effects of Citronella Plants

When it comes to citronella plants use, irritations may arise. These may range from skin and eye irritations among others. It all depends on the user.

Be observant of any changes or irritations that may arise due to citronella use. Also, seek medical assistance where necessary.


The minty aroma from mint plants has been proven to repel a variety of pests including mosquitoes, rodents, and bees.

As a natural repellent, you won’t need to worry about its toxicity as it has none whatsoever on both humans, animals, and the environment.

  • How Mint Works

Mint repels bees mainly through its aroma. This aroma is constantly given off and permeates your surroundings.

As long as these plants are present, bees will find such areas hostile and unwelcoming. This means they’ll rather keep their distance than being overwhelmed by the irritating minty scent.

  • How to Use Mint Plants as a Bee Repellent

The best way to ensure mint plants serve as a deterrent to bee presence is to have them grown around your home.

Mint plants will always give off a scent that will repel bees. Therefore, having as many mint plants as necessary around your home creates a hostile environment. Bees eventually have to relocate.

  • Side Effects

Do mint plants pose health risks to humans? Not really, they do not.

However, certain individuals may have adverse reactions to them, thus leading to irritations. When such happens, discontinue use immediately and find alternative plants such as those listed here.


Red geraniums are great plants known to have bee-repellent properties. These plants produce flowers that you may assume to attract bees (bees are naturally drawn to flowers).

However, the reverse is the case as such flowers contain zero pollens thus having no incentive for bees to hang around.

  • How Geraniums Work to Repel Bees

Apart from its flowers having no pollen for bees to work on, geranium plants give off a scent that is disliked by bees. Bees will always keep their distance whenever you have geraniums planted in your yard or garden.

Apart from the repelling effect these plants have, they also help beautify your surroundings.

  • How to Use Geraniums for Bee Control

Geraniums are widely used not only for bees but also to deter multiple types of pests.

To use this plant, you’ll need to ensure proper application. In this sense, it will mean planting as many geraniums as necessary within your garden or yard. You can have them planted along your home’s perimeter.

  • Side Effects

When geraniums are used as bee repellents, they may result in side effects.

Despite this possibility, the use of geraniums will hardly result in negative side effects. However, when it happens, the individuals concerned may be having allergic reactions that require immediate medical attention in addition to discontinuing its use.


Eucalyptus is also among plants that repel bees. This is a drought-tolerant plant that requires a lot of sunlight.

Eucalyptus plants must also be planted in well-drained soils. One of the main reasons this plant serves as an excellent bee repellent is its fragrance.

  • How Eucalyptus Repels Bees

Eucalyptus repels bees main because of its pleasant fragrance.

This scent released will permeate your surroundings. Because bees hate their smell, your home’s surroundings become unwelcoming resulting. Bees will eventually have to relocate elsewhere or find more favorable locations.

  • How to Repel Bees with Eucalyptus

To repel bees with Eucalyptus, you’ll need to have them planted around your home’s perimeter or within your garden or yard. Your preferred location for planting Eucalyptus will depend on where you want bees to be excluded from.

Once you’ve settled or a particular area, have these plants either potted or planted in elevated beds.

Remember, you’ll need well-drained soils to enhance plant growth. Adequate sunlight is also of the essence.

  • Side Effects

Although Eucalyptus has several advantages including serving as a bee repellent, there’s a likelihood of experiencing allergies with its use.

Thankfully, this isn’t so common and will rarely occur but when it does, it’s necessary to find urgent medical attention as fast as you can.


Marigolds are plants that are popular with gardeners. These also serve to beautify homes due to their beautiful flowers. Now, there’s a tendency to think that bees will naturally be attracted to them but that isn’t true.

The reverse is true (though nectar-seeking bees may be attracted to them. The scent released by marigolds serves to drive off bees.

  • How it Works

Stinging insects (especially wasps) hardly stand a chance with marigolds. This plant gives off a fragrance that irritates them and drives them off your property.

That way, you get to regain control of your home while avoiding the killing of bees.

  • How to Use Marigolds

For lasting effect, it’s necessary to plant marigolds in sufficient amounts within your home.

These plants will give off a strong fragrance that will permeate your home’s surroundings. This creates an invisible barrier for stinging insects like wasps and bees.

  • Side Effects of Using Marigolds

It is unlikely that you’ll have an allergic reaction to marigolds. Nevertheless, care must be exercised when such a condition is noticed and urgent action taken. Such urgent action includes stopping its use and seeking medical advice and help.

Also consider finding alternative bee-repellent plants. This article includes several of these for your consideration.

Pitcher Plants

Have you ever heard of carnivorous plants?

Pitcher plants are one of such. Instead of repelling bees, pitcher plants serve to attract and digest them. Pitcher plants can either be planted alone or together with other plants.

You won’t need to worry about bee presence any longer as this plant gets the job done.

  • How it Works

We’ve established the fact that pitcher plants are carnivorous and digest prey including bees that are trapped. The flower serves to attract bees after which a slippery surface lets them fall into a pool of water and drown.

Ingestion starts without delay.

  • How to Use Pitcher Plants for Bee Control

If you’re looking for a plant that gets rid of bees by attracting them, then go for pitcher plants.

Prey, (including bees) are trapped and digested hence reducing the bee population around your home. You can also plant other bee repellent plants to help decrease bee activity around your home.

  • Side Effects

The use of pitcher plants for bee control may come with side effects such as irritations. As always, it’s best to stop its use immediately and seek help. You may also want to consider using other plants listed here for this purpose.

There is never a shortage of plants that repel bees. All you need to do is find those which are more suitable for your bee situation. In other words, you’ll need to choose those plants you’re more comfortable using.

Related Guides:

What is the life cycle of a marigold plant?

Depending on the variety, marigolds can grow 8 to 40 inches tall, and develop blooms that can range in size from 1 to 5 inches. For germination within about five to 10 days, start the seeds indoors six weeks before the last spring frost and expose them to ideal conditions.

Beside above, how do you keep marigolds alive? How to care for marigolds

  1. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, then water thoroughly.
  2. Water marigolds at the base of the plant.
  3. Avoid a profusion of foliage and fewer flowers by not fertilizing soil after sowing seeds.
  4. Deadheading is not necessary.

In this regard, is a marigold an annual or perennial?

Conversely, perennials complete multiple life cycles over many years. Common garden marigolds are annuals, but because they self-sow, sometimes they are mistakenly identified as perennials. Even in regions with mild winters free of frost, marigolds grow as annuals, with bloom development fading in fall.

How do you grow marigolds at home?

Sow marigold seed directly in the ground and cover with a thin layer of soil (about 1/8 inch deep). Water thoroughly. Thin to 8-18 inches apart after seedlings have sprouted. Marigolds can also be started early indoors under grow lights for transplanting outdoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost date.

Tiny rodents such as mice and voles, which look a bit like hamsters, are hesitant to travel out in the open above ground in case predators are looking for a meal. The Botanique Nursery website suggests creating an open trench around a garden, digging down to hard ground. Botanique says most voles tunnel right beneath the soil's surface and turn back when they reach the exposure of a trench.

The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management says that planting the perimeter of a garden with marigolds "may repel moles from gardens," but this method of pest management hasn't been proven scientifically. The center is a college consortium, including Clemson and Cornell universities, the University of Nebraska and Utah State University.

The center says that although moles don't eat plants as they "swim" through the soil in search of insects, they "may damage plants by disrupting their roots." Also, their tunnels provide protective routes for smaller rodents to raid plants. So minimizing moles would minimize rodent damage by eliminating their underground freeway.

Alicia Rudnicki's Library Mix website blends book buzz for all ages. A gardener, she writes for California's Flowers by the Sea nursery. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from UC Berkeley, a Master of Arts in education from CU Denver, and has taught K-12.

Watch the video: Bee Tending Marigold

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