Salt Systems

Salt system will keep thirsty bees away from swimming pools

Bees need water, too, especially this time of year, when natural sources have gone dry.

That sets up a bees vs. humans conflict that may not turn out well for anyone. Exterminate the bees and run the risk of losing the pollination services that bees so eagerly provide. Let them be and run the risk of being stung, possibly multiple times.

Stan Rulapaugh of Phoenix says bees started visiting his swimming pool about a month ago. “We now have 50 to 60 in the afternoons,” he says.

The hive does not seem to be on his property, and he is worried that they might be Africanized honeybees, known for their aggressive nature.

He says friends stopped using the pool after a daughter was stung. The child will not go near the water anymore, he says.

He has tried rubbing a chlorine tablet along the water line and using wasp spray on the bees. The chlorine was ineffective, and the wasp spray took care of only those that were blasted and left an oil slick on the water.

“I’m tempted to try painting Sevin along the water line,” he says. “Perhaps a good rain will keep the bees closer to the hive.”

Sevin, a broad-spectrum insecticide, probably will not work and may poison the pool water and those using it. Besides, bees will land directly on the water.

Rulapaugh may be on to something with the rain suggestion. Bees begin harvesting water from swimming pools, fountains and birdbaths when the weather is dry. A good rain should result in enough pockets of water for the bees.

Bob Pinnick of Foothills Pest Control in Ahwatukee says the problem is especially pronounced in neighborhoods near open desert and mountain preserves, where water supplies this time of year are sparse until a monsoon storm gives those areas a good soaking.

A saltwater sanitation system, which is an alternative to the traditional chlorine system, is the only surefire solution to bees in the swimming pool, Pinnick says. Bees, he points out, hate salt, making it one product that is OK for swimmers but discouraging to bees.

By Michael Clancy

The Arizona Republic

July 25, 2001