Bees can become a nuisance in the garden if they start appearing in large numbers. There are many plants that will repel specific insects, including bees; the most common are strong-scented herbs. According to Lorentz Pearson in "The Diversity and Evolution of Plants," the same smells that humans find unpleasant will also repel bees, which find light, floral smells more appealing.
Carrion flower (Stapelia flavirostris) is a succulent with velvety stems and a clumping-growth habit. The flowers are wrinkled and have characteristic yellow and purplish marks. The flowers bloom in summer and repel bees with their smell, which is like a rotting carcase. In addition, the shade of their petals resembles the flesh colour of a dead animal. The flowers are appealing to all insects that are normally attracted to carcases, including flesh flies, blowflies and midges. Carrion flowers reach a mature height of about 1 foot and are easy to grow and maintain. The foliage is green and coarse, and the plants are hardy in USDA Zones 10 and 11.
Dragon arum (Dracunculus vulgaris) is a small- to medium-sized hardy perennial, also referred to as dragon plant. (Reference 5) The plant blooms with blood-red flowers, and has a smell like fresh faeces, making it a good choice to keep bees out of the garden. The plant blooms during late spring and summer. (Reference 4). Dragon arum can be easily propagated from seed in a shady area. The plant prefers well-drained, organic soil; keep the soil moist during the active growing period. Dragon arum can be divided in fall to create more plants. (Reference 5)
African Starfish Flower
African starfish flowers (Caralluma) are cactus-like plants with a crawling-growth habit. The flesh-coloured flowers are shaped like starfish, and the soft, white down on the petals looks very much like mould on rotting food. The flowers, commonly between 8 to 10 inches in diameter, have a stench that bees and humans find repulsive, while it attracts maggots and flies. Often grown in southern California, African starfish flowers are black, purple, red or yellow in colour, and bloom during summer or fall. The flowers are among the worst-smelling succulent plants.
- Ask the Exterminator: Bee and Wasp Repellent Plants
- "The Diversity and Evolution of Plants"; Lorentz Pearson; 1995
- Backyard Gardener: Stapelia Flavirostris
- Wayne's World: What is a Carrion Flower?
- Plant Biology: Guide to Growing Dragon Plants