Raspberries are one of the most loved berries in the USA. They’re easy to grow and they attract a range of insects into your garden. But you might have noticed that bees seem to have a taste for your raspberries. So, what is it about raspberries that the bees like so much?
Raspberries naturally attract bees, as a bee’s main food sources are found in the pollen and nectar of fruiting foods like berries. Bees pollinate raspberries, resulting in better, bigger berries than if the berries were left to self-pollinate.
Without pollination, your raspberries won’t produce as much fruit so overall, it’s much better to have bees in your garden if you grow raspberries. However, not everyone is comfortable with bees. So below, we’ll give you some tips on how to prevent bees, and we’ll tell you how to attract them too.
Raspberries Do Attract Bees (Why that’s Good)
Most plants reproduce through pollination and bees are one of the most efficient pollinator insects. When they visit the flower to feed, they collect lots of dusty yellow pollen on their hairy legs and body. Then, they distribute this pollen to each flower they visit, thus fertilizing the plants.
Lots of plants, including raspberries, depend on this type of fertilization to produce fruit. So, if they don’t get regular visits from bees, it’s almost impossible for them to produce a good crop.
Potentially, up to 65 percent of plants depend on insects such as bees for pollination. So overall, it’s better to have bees in your garden, especially if you grow raspberries.
Bees pollinate our food and crops – and they’re endangered
Some plants can’t reproduce without the help of bees. This is alarming because our bees are in serious decline right now. And if we lose them there’s going to be severe environmental repercussions.
Since 2006, Colony Collapse Disorder in beehives has become a huge global problem. This is when whole colonies of bees die for no apparent reason. Between April 2020 and April 2021 beekeepers across the USA lost 45.5 percent of their bee colonies. And unfortunately, these high figures have been trending for over a decade.
Our bees are dying because a lot of their habitat has been taken away through intensive farming. Additionally, the prolific use of monocrops, that don’t reproduce, fails to provide a food source to the bees. And if you combine this with overall climate change, it’s no wonder the bees are struggling.
So, “bee” nice!
Bees generally aren’t aggressive. They only use their sting as a last resort. So as long you don’t stand too close to their nest, they shouldn’t bother you when they’re going about their business.
Overall, it’s better to invite bees into your garden because they pollinate your plants. But if for some reason, you can’t have bees in your garden, always get rid of them humanely.
How To Attract Bees to Your Garden
Bees are a great visit to have in your garden and there are plenty of ways you can encourage them. You can plant bee-attracting plants and leave water out for them to drink. Or if you want to boost your harvest and help the bees, you could make a hive.
Bees are endangered. So, if you make your garden bee-friendly, you can help the species survive. So even if you don’t grow fruits and veggies, you still have a reason to encourage them into your garden.
And below, we’ll tell you the best ways to do it.
Bee Tip #1: Make or Keep a Hive
If you enjoy honey, why not get a beehive for your garden or homestead? As well as providing you with honey, wax, and propolis, the bees can help with crop pollination.
If you don’t find the idea of becoming a beekeeper attractive, you can provide smaller homes in your garden for solitary bees. Bee hotels and nests are a sanctuary for bees during the winter when they hibernate.
Bee Tip #2: Plant Bee-Friendly Plants
Some plants produce more nectar and pollen than others. So bees are naturally attracted to high pollen-producing plants such as rosemary, milkweed, marigold, geranium, oregano, poppies, lavender, and wildflowers. Plant these in your garden to increase the bee population.
Bee Tip #3: Provide Water
Bees get thirsty from working so hard. And they’ll come to your garden for a drink if you leave some water out for them. So put a birdbath, water feature, or pond in your garden to encourage the bees to visit.
Bee Tip #4: Don’t Use Pesticides
Chemical pesticides aren’t just bad for the bees. They’re bad for the environment too. And if you use them, they will repel bees and kill them if they come too close to your garden. So if you want bees in your garden don’t use pesticides. Always opt for natural pest solutions in your garden instead.
Bee Tip #5: Leave a Bit of Your Garden Wild
The perfect environment for bees is their natural, local one. So leave a small patch of your garden wild for the bees to enjoy.
Another way you encourage bees into your garden is by using no-till gardening methods. This is when you don’t dig and turn over the soil each year. Instead, you leave it to get covered in wild plants. Not only can this improve the quality of your soil, but the extra foliage will also attract bees.
How To Get Rid of Bees from Your Garden Safely
Bees are in grave danger and need our support. And overall, it’s better to have bees in your garden. If for some reason you really can’t have them there, use humane methods to keep them out such as bee traps and bee repelling plants.
If someone in your home has a bee allergy, cohabiting with the bees might not be an option. So below, we’ll tell you the best way to get rid of bees from your garden without killing them.
Bee Removal Tip #1: Call A Beekeeper
If you have lots of bees in your garden, chances are, there’s a hive somewhere close. Usually, local beekeepers will be more than happy to come and relieve you of it.
Sometimes a group of bees will leave their hive and look for a new home and this is known as a swarm. It can be alarming to find a huge swarm of bees in your garden but don’t worry, these bees are just stopping for a rest, and they won’t harm you if you leave them alone.
Usually, your local beekeeper will be happy to come and collect a swarm too.
Bee Removal Tip #2: Use Bee Traps
You can use humane bee traps and catchers to remove bees from your garden. Traps are ideal for removing small numbers of bees. The bees crawl into the traps and can’t get out until you take them somewhere to release them. You can buy bee traps online or from your local hardware store or garden center. And it’s easy to make your own bee traps at home.
When in doubt, call a beekeeper for ideas on how to build your own bee trap at home.
Bee Removal Tip #3: Plant Bee Repellent Plants
To keep bees out of your garden naturally, plant some bee-repellent plants around your home. Bees have a sensitive sense of smell, and they don’t like aromatic plants such as mint and citronella. You can also plant eucalyptus and cucumber to keep bees away.
Bee Removal Tip #4: Use Essential Oils that Repel Bees
Try burning essential oils such as mint or eucalyptus in an oil burner in your garden, or burning citronella candles to deter the bees. Bees don’t like mothballs or cinnamon sticks either. So, hang these around your garden to keep bees away.
Bee Removal Tip #5: Bee Proof Your House
If you don’t spend a lot of time in your garden, just bee-proof your house instead. You can ensure bees don’t get in your house by using mosquito screens on all the doors and windows. Or use the same bee repellent essential oils as mentioned above and leave raw garlic around your windows and entrances.
Bee Removal Tip #6: Offer Them an Alternative
Bees come to your garden to feed on your plants and some gardeners suggest that you can offer the bees an alternative food source to lure them away from your garden.
To do this, lay out some fresh fruits on a tray or in a plastic food bag. Each day refresh the fruit and gradually move it away from your house.
Do Raspberry Plants Need Bees to Pollinate?
Raspberry plants are self-fertile and can produce fruit without bees. However, raspberry plants will struggle to produce good quality fruit through self-pollination when compared to pollinated plants. Raspberries will produce better, sweeter, and more delicious fruit when pollinated by bees.
Each raspberry flower has around 100- 125 pistils and each one of these needs to be pollinated to create a “droup”. And it takes 70 – 80 droups to make a whole fruit. When there are fewer droups, the fruit will be misshapen. This means that raspberries need a lot of visits from pollinating insects such as bees to produce good quality fruit.
What Kind of Bees Eat Raspberries?
There are over 4000 different species of bee in the USA and most of them eat raspberries. But the most common bees you’ll find on your raspberry plants are the Bumblebee, Honeybee, and Osmia bee.
And we’ll take a closer look at these below.
Osmia Bees are also known as Mason Bees or Orchard Bees. These metallic blue bees are native to the USA, and they’re around the same size as honeybees. Osmia bees are solitary creatures that nest in holes they build from the earth. And they do a great job of pollinating fruit and orchids.
Bumblebees are large and very hairy with the typical yellow and black bee strips. Bumblebees live in small burrows or holes and don’t produce massive amounts of honey. But due to their size, weight, and hair, they’re fantastic pollinators. When they visit the flowers, they make them vibrate so they release more pollen.
Honeybees are native to Europe and they’re the most productive bee when it comes to honey. This is because they live in huge colonies of up to 80000 bees, and as a team, they work tirelessly throughout the summer to produce honey for winter. Honeybees are brown and yellow and they’re the most popular bee among keepers and farmers to help with pollination.
Do Wasps Pollinate Raspberries?
Bees aren’t the only pollinating insects. Wasps, flies, beetles, and butterflies are also good pollinators. You’ve probably noticed that wasps really like sweet things, such as your soda. And just like bees, they’re attracted to the nectar in flowers.
Wasps are generally more aggressive than bees, so they’re unwelcome in most gardens. But some varieties of wasps will help pollinate your raspberries too. However, they’re not as efficient as bees because they don’t have hair to catch the pollen.
Some wasps are also good for your garden because they’re predatory insects. This means that they feed on smaller insects and garden pests such as greenflies.
Not all wasps are good for a garden, just like not all wasps can pollinate plants. Make sure you learn the difference between the types of wasps in your area.
In our yard, we have both paper wasps and yellowjackets.
- The paper wasps, while annoying, do some minor pollination as they’re attracted to fruit, flowers, and nectar. They generally avoid us people, though they will sting if the nest is threatened. And they build nests everywhere. They scare my kids, though, because they look so much like yellowjackets.
- The yellowjackets don’t pollinate anything, as they’re primarily drawn to protein sources or other insects. They’re more aggressive and tend to build their nests underground in the grass – a nasty surprise when we mow the lawn.
If you’re having a rough time figuring out which kind of wasp is in your yard, I recommend getting a dual-purpose wasp trap that will attract both the carnivorous and the more herbivorous kinds.
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Or set up two separate traps, like these two on Amazon.
- Yellowjacket trap (see the best price on Amazon) – get a 2-pack with several refills to cover the whole gardening season. The trap itself is reusable, so you’ll just need to empty it from time to time and add more bait.
- Paper wasp trap (check pricing on Amazon) – get a 2-pack of these pest-attracting traps to cover your growing season. These sticky traps also work to catch other bugs, like carpenter bees and mud daubers. The traps aren’t reusable, though.
Having both kinds of traps can help you figure out what kind of wasp is in your yard so that you can determine if you need to take further steps in eradicating the wasps or learning to live with them.
For us, we’re working on getting rid of the yellowjackets. They’re too dangerous and aggressive for our family. We’re working with the children to learn to appreciate paper wasps, though. My children tend to interpret that as “give them plenty of space,” though!
Raspberry Plant Information (quick info)
Raspberry plants (Rubus Idaeus) are perennials which means they grow back each year. They’re from the Rosaceae family of plants which also includes apples, cherries, and strawberries. Raspberries are tasty, nutritious, and easy to grow, making them one of North America’s favorite berries.
There are two types of raspberry plants: summer fruiting and everbearing.
- Summer fruiting raspberries grow on second-year canes, called floricanes. These produce large, juicy berries in the height of summer.
- Everbearing raspberries, sometimes also called autumn fruiting berries, grow on first-year primocanes. They usually produce smaller fruit at the start and end of the summer.
So, depending on your raspberry goals, it may be a good idea to grow both types for a longer raspberry season.
When to Expect Bees in Your Raspberries
Expect bees to show up when a raspberry plant begins to leaf, though bees will be few in early spring. The number of bees will increase through the summer until a raspberry bush is buzzing. Bees will continue to visit raspberry patches in dwindling numbers until they hibernate for the winter.
If it’s warm enough out for bees to be awake, our raspberry patch is full of bees. We have several neighbors who keep bees, and we’ve loved getting to know them better (the bees, though we do love getting to know the neighbors better, too!).
My children have become more familiar and less scared of bees as we do so. And that’s good because there are enough bees in our bush that it would be an issue if our children were terrified!
What Do with Bees in Your Raspberries – If You’re Allergic
If you have an allergy to bees (bee stings), please consult with your doctor before gardening in an environment rich with bees. This is especially true if the allergy is life-threatening. Then find and make appropriate changes.
- Find a way to minimize or eliminate exposure risks, depending on the severity of the allergy.
- Keep appropriate allergy medicines on hand in case of a bee sting. Make sure to consult with your doctor and other trusted healthcare providers to determine the best medicines to have on hand. Know how to use the medicines, too.
- Ask a non-allergic person to help harvest the berries. I’d probably offer to pay them with the berries they just picked – or to bake them something yummy.
- Make sure that any raspberry plant care took place during the early spring or late fall. That way, you don’t have to worry about dealing with any bees directly.
- Keep bee-attracting plants far from home entrances to minimize the risk of a sting.
- Consider changing the garden to minimize the risk of bee stings. This could mean not growing raspberries. Weigh the pros and cons.
We don’t have any life-threatening allergies to bees (that we know of). If we did, I’d consult with our doctor.
We do have other allergies, so I keep an Epi-pen on hand anyway. And having worked as an emergency department nurse for 8 years comes in handy, so I’m pretty familiar with anaphylaxis – and how to treat it in a hospital setting. My oldest also has a severe tree nut allergy, so I’ve also treated life-threatening allergies while getting to the emergency department as quickly as I can.
I only mention my real-life license and experience so that you know that I’m not making this stuff up. These are real ideas I’ve come up with, based on my years of experience as both a nurse, a mom, and a backyard homesteader.
If I personally were allergic to bees? Here’s what I’d do.
- I’d consider the pros and cons of keeping raspberries altogether.
- I would keep a smaller patch to support the bees. It needs to be small enough that my family can harvest the berries without it becoming an undue burden on them.
- I’d be tempted to harvest a few berries after dusk – when the bees are more likely to be back in their hive. I’d probably wear some layers to stay safer, though.
- I’d make sure the bee-friendly patch was as far from my home as humanly possible – to keep me safe, too.
- I’d keep in touch with my healthcare provider to make sure that I’ve got the medicines on hand that I need. I’d also make sure that I know how to use them when I need them.
Finally, remember that there’s no one right answer, especially when it comes to building your backyard garden (or homestead) while dealing with allergies. Find what works for you, your allergies, your family, your safety, and your backyard homestead.
Quick Raspberry Growing Tips (with or without bees)
Raspberries are easy to grow, and they prefer slightly colder climates. But in the summer, they need lots of sunshine to help the fruit. As well as this, you must make sure that your raspberries have something to grow on because they’re quick-growing, climbing plants.
If you want to get the most out of your raspberry plants, look at our quick tips (and links to the complete guides) below.
If you’ve ever wondered about growing blue raspberries, then make sure you read my article Blue Raspberries: What you need to know!
Raspberries are like fertile, moisture-retaining, yet well-draining soil. They prefer earth that’s a little bit on the acidic side (pH 6.5 to 6.7). You should plant them in the spring, once the frost is over. And place them in a sunny spot that has shelter from the wind.
Raspberries need support, so you must put this in before you plant them. You can use a trellis, wire fence, posts, bamboo canes, or frames for your raspberries to climb on.
- Wondering if your berries can survive where they’re planted due to the amount of sun? Read my article on How Much Sun And Shade Can Berries Tolerate? A Complete Guide.
- Need to move your raspberry patch? Make sure you read this first! How, Why, and When to Move Raspberry Canes!
In the summer, your plants will need slow, deep watering at least once a week. They also benefit from a deep layer of mulch to help retain water and to prevent weeds from shooting up.
Give them a dose of high potassium fertilizer in the spring. And add compost to their earth each year.
- Winter is coming. Make sure your raspberries are ready for it, too. Read my article on How to Protect Raspberry Plants in Winter: A Step-by-Step Guide.
Pruning is super important with raspberries. Annual pruning will help them to produce more fruit the following year. But pruning is different for summer fruiting plants and everbearing plants.
- Got questions on pruning, like when, why, and how to do it? Read the article guide: Pruning Berries: The Ultimate Guide!
- Or if you’d rather read just about raspberries, then read What Happens If You Don’t Prune Raspberries? What To Expect. Not pruning them can actually be a big issue!
The canes of summer fruiting raspberries last for two years. So only cut the mature canes which had berries back down to the ground. These tough, brown canes, are easily distinguishable from the younger green ones. The young canes are the ones that will produce fruit in the following season.
And you must tie these to supporting wires with garden string during their dormant stage over the winter.
Everbearing raspberries are easier to prune because their canes only last for a year. Each year, they’ll produce new canes to bear fruit on. So this means you can prune all the canes of ever-bearing raspberries right back to the ground at the end of the growing season.
Raspberries produce fruit from mid-summer through to autumn. And it takes around two weeks for some fruit to ripen. You’ll know they’re ready to harvest when they look red and juicy, and they’ll come off the plant easily when you pull them. If you must tug at the fruit, it’s not ready.
Need some fun product ideas for your homestead, the bees, or beekeeping raspberry growers in your life? I chatted with my sister-in-law, who keeps bees, to get some good ideas beyond my own. Here’s what we came up with the both of us.
- Get and plant some wildflower seeds. Buying local is always the best (and safest) option.
- Want to give bees and birds a place to get a drink? You may want to consider setting up a birdfeeder-style water container. Just remember: mosquitos love standing water, so make sure to rotate the water regularly.
- Want to give the other beneficial insects an extra incentive to stick around your yard? Set up an insect hotel (like this one on Amazon) and watch all the beneficial bugs keep out the bad ones. That’s a total win-win-win for you, the bugs, and your garden.
- Looking to keep bees? Make sure you get a quality hive, like this one on Amazon.
- Need to upgrade your trellis game? T-posts are a great, sturdy idea, but these bamboo stakes (click here to check the best pricing on Amazon) could be a great way to build a trellis from sustainable products.
- Need to keep insects away from a particular area of your yard, like your back door? Try using a citronella candle to keep your patio bug-free!
These ideas are by no means exhaustive, but hopefully, they’ll help you think of a way to uplevel your own backyard homestead or for a gift idea for friends.
Bees are super important when it comes to growing fruit and vegetables, and without them, our planet might be in big trouble. So, it’s better to encourage bees into your garden. Especially if you have raspberry plants, bees, through pollination, will help you to get a larger crop.
And most importantly, if you must keep bees out of your garden, do it humanly. The last thing the planet needs right now is more dead bees.
Instead, keep yourself safe. Learn more about bees – and maybe invest in your own beekeeping suit. Even if you don’t keep bees, make sure you read about how beekeepers stay safer by wearing that white beekeeping suit. The reasons are really cool – and some may surprise you!
It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our personal research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine. “How to Make a Bee-Friendly Garden.” BBC Gardeners World Magazine, 16 Nov. 2021, www.gardenersworld.com/plants/how-to-make-a-bee-friendly-garden.
- “Bee Colony Collapse Disorder.” National Pesticide Information Center, 5 June 2015, npic.orst.edu/envir/ccd.html.
- “Blue Orchard Mason Bee.” U.S. Forest Service, www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/mason_bees.shtml. Accessed 23 Nov. 2021.
- “Bumblebees.” U.S. Forest Service, www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/bumblebees.shtml. Accessed 23 Nov. 2021.
- “CATCH THE BUZZ – Comparative Pollination Efficacies of Five Bee Species on Raspberry Show Honey Bees Doing Just Fine.” Bee Culture, 4 Oct. 2018, www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-comparative-pollination-efficacies-of-five-bee-species-on-raspberry-show-honey-bees-doing-just-fine-2.
- Goodwin, Mark. “Pollination of Crops in Australia and New Zealand.” AgriFutures Australia, 10 Aug. 2018, www.agrifutures.com.au/product/pollination-of-crops-in-australia-and-new-zealand.
- Honey Bees.” U.S. Department of Agriculture, 17 May 2021, www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/plant-pest-and-disease-programs/honey-bees.
- Kevin. “How To Get Rid of Bees | Updated for 2021.” Pests.Org, 12 Apr. 2021, www.pests.org/get-rid-of-bees.
- Kopec, Kelsey, and Lori Ann Burd. “Pollinators in Peril.” BiologicalDiversity.Org, Feb. 2017, www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/native_pollinators/pdfs/Pollinators_in_Peril.pdf.
- “Raspberry Pollinators and Visitors: Focus on Bees.” Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Canada, Nov. 2015, www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/crop-management/pubs/raspberry-pollinators.pdf.
- “Wasp Pollination.” U.S. Forest Service, www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/animals/wasps.shtml. Accessed 23 Nov. 2021.
- “What Are Pollinators.” Pollinator.Org, 13 May 2019, www.pollinator.org/pollination.
- Woods, Josh. “US Beekeepers Continue to Report High Colony Loss Rates, No Clear Progression toward Improvement.” Auburn University, 24 June 2021, ocm.auburn.edu/newsroom/news_articles/2021/06/241121-honey-bee-annual-loss-survey-results.php.