Killing Bees With Soapy Water

Last Updated on April 6, 2022

There are very few times when it is actually a good idea to kill bees. If you do have to kill bees, using a pesticide-free method at least helps a bit. Killing bees with soapy water is an option if it is needed. I hate killing bees. In this article, we will have a look at a few ways to do this humanely if you really have to.

Why Do You Need To Kill Bees?

I’m working on the assumption that you have some bees that are causing trouble and you need to get rid of them. This article will look at a few options that can allow you to kill bees including killing bees with soapy water.


Bees, wasps, and hornets will fight back and win most of the time if you do not know what you are doing. Killing bees with soapy water or any other method should be a last resort. Let’s have a look at circumstances where you may, with limited skill and equipment, be able to kill problem bees and wasps. We will also look at a few examples of times when you should call in a professional.

Killing bees and wasps is generally not a good idea – if you can remove them in another way, that is always better.

Reasons We May Need To Kill Bees

A Few Stray Bees In House

You have a few stray bees in the house and you are worried your wife/kid/dog/cat/hamster/parrot/goldfish/husband will get stung. Bee stings to unsuspecting house dwellers can cause terrible disruptions to life. I actually lost one of my cichlid fish to a bee sting once – a bee flew into the fish tank and the fish ate it, got stung, and died. Bizarre.

Often, these bees will have been attracted to a jar of honey near a window, or some other sweet thing. Close the window. Then progress to the solution.

Solution: The Most effective way to remove a few problem bees is with a vacuum cleaner. Your risk of being stung is very low with this method. Remove the head of the vacuum cleaner and just use the pipe. Bees will be sucked away, and you can then turn the vacuum cleaner off. Killing bees with soapy water in this case is unnecessary and will just create more mess than is needed.

A Small Swarm Is In A Dangerous Place

A small swarm the size of a fist is hanging in a place where it could cause trouble. You cannot find a beekeeper to remove these and it is an emergency that you need to get rid of them.

Solution: If you prepare a soapy water solution and place it in a spray bottle – 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. You can spray the cluster of bees when it is dark – do not use a light to view the bees – they will fly towards the light. Spray the bees until they are very wet. They will die in a few minutes. Vacuum the dead bees up. If it is a very small cluster you can skip the soapy water and just vacuum the bees up. Killing bees with soapy water in this way is a low-risk method to solve a problem.

A Larger Swarm

If you do not know anything about bees, call a beekeeper. There is nothing you can do to safely deal with a larger swarm. The risk of stinging and catastrophe is high with a bigger swarm. I have seen people do silly things such as trying to spray swarms with bug spray – this resulted in the bees going crazy and singing three dogs to death and almost killing a postman.

Solution: Call a beekeeper to remove a larger swarm. If you are a beekeeper, the chances are you are not reading this article, but, if you are, get a box and dump the bees in the box. Take them somewhere useful. You know the drill. Killing bees with soapy water is not an option here. It will go wrong.

A Beehive That Has Moved Into A Wall, Or Other Structure

Once a swarm has moved into a space, there is no way a person without beekeeping knowledge can safely remove these bees. Bees that have formed a hive get strong quickly. Once a hive is established it can, if angered, field anywhere from 10 000 to 40 000 angry workers that will emerge in a cloud and seek and sting anything which moves. This is a really bad situation and people and animals can die.

I have been called in on many occasions to repair home “bee removals” by non-beekeepers. One guy poured gasoline into the hive and set it alight. The gasoline poured down a hole and did not even enter the beehive. When he lit the gasoline it created an explosion that destroyed a fence (hollow wall fence) and burnt a tree and a garden shed to the ground. The bees became irate and the fire department refused to put out the fire. I arrived and had to operate the fire hose to put out the tree, and then calm the bees. Very unpleasant.

A Beehive That Has Moved Into A Wall, Or Other Structure

Learn more about: How To Remove A Honey Bee Nest Without Killing Them

Solution: For an established hive, call a beekeeper to remove the bees. This is beyond the scope of a home DIY solution as the bees are genuinely dangerous and can cause significant damage and legal liability to you if something goes wrong.

Why Does Soap Water Kill Bees?

Killing bees with soapy waterworks in a very simple way. Bees, like us, breathe air so as to absorb oxygen to drive metabolism. The system involves a number of small holes in the side of the bee called spiracles – these holes allow oxygen into a system of small tubes that move oxygen and air deep into the bee. From here oxygen diffuses into the bee to allow metabolism. For more on how this system works read this article I wrote.

When we mix soap with water it reduces the surface tension of the water. Water has very high surface tension, and this means that if a bee gets wet, the water does not easily penetrate the spiracles and drown the bee. However, if we mix soap into the water, we reduce the surface tension, and the water can penetrate the spiracles. This means that the bee quickly breathes water – and as with most things that breathe air – this causes death quite quickly.

What Kills Bees Instantly?

Fire is the only thing I have seen which can kill an entire hive instantly. However, fire will also more often than not get out of control and cause a lot of damage.

There are a few things that can help to reduce the activity of a hive that has gone crazy – the best I have used is in fact a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. Note that this is a carbon dioxide extinguisher – not the type that sprays white powder or foam. The straight carbon dioxide extinguisher leaves no residue on the bees and they will recover later when they warm up.

This produces a jet of cold carbon dioxide gas – when directed into a beehive that has become very irate, the temperature reduces the bee’s ability to fly and the carbon dioxide stuns them. Within twenty to thirty seconds of directing the jet of cold gas at the hive, the activity of the bees will drop drastically. The colder temperatures also interfere with the ability of the bees to respond to alarm pheromones.

What Happens If You Spray Bees With Water?

I have seen people try this when beehives get irate. If you spray the bees with a powerful jet of water it does nothing other than make the hive angrier. However, if you use a sprayer that sprays a rain of fine droplets these make the bee’s wings wet and you can spray angry bees out of the air. I would suggest that such activities are not for the faint-hearted – when bees get angry, they will manage to sting you even if you are armed with a sprayer.

If you have a situation where for instance bees are attacking horses or chickens, this can help. I have managed to save a chicken coop once by spraying bees into submission like this.

Killing bees with soapy water is an option if you have an emergency. I hope this article has helped you work out when you can use this method, when to use other methods and when to call a professional. If you enjoyed please share.

Read more about: How To Kill Africanized Bees?


What kills bees instantly?

Very few things kill bees instantly other than fire. But this is not a wise tool to use in most cases. If a hive goes completely insane you can cool the hive with a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher. This is better than fire.

Can you get rid of bees with soapy water?

Yes in some cases soapy water can be used to kill bees. Ideally it is better to remove bees than to kill them, so use this as a last resort. I have seen people get badly stung trying to kill bees with soapy water, so be careful. You need a proper sprayer bottle, not a little hand sprayer.

What happens if you spray bees with water?

If you spray the hive with a direct jet of water you will probably just make the hive irate. If you spray the bees with a strong jet of small droplets from a sprayer attachment fitted to the hose, you will knock some out of the air. This can be used to calm an angry swarm. Sometimes. Prepare to be stung however. No mater how good you are at wielding a sprayer hose, bees will get past you and zap you a few times.

Why does soap water kill bees?

Soap reduces sruface tension in water, allowing it to flow into the bees breathing system drowning the bee.