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How to Stop Bees & Wasps from Ruining a Barbecue

Don’t let these pesky party poopers stop you from enjoying an outdoor celebration.

A swarm or even a single wasp or bee can quickly take the fun out of an outdoor party. Unfortunately, after spawning all summer, these fun-sappers are everywhere in the late summer or early fall -- just in time for the perfect outdoor party weather.

While there’s no surefire way to keep bugs from crashing your ’cue, here are some tips that can help keep them away.

Keep Food Sealed (When You’re Not Eating or Cooking)

Believe it or not, bees and wasps aren’t looking for a fight -- they are searching for food, especially protein and sweets. Once you pop open the beers and stick the brats on the coals, you might get some visitors, so be sure to keep all food (especially any desserts, fruit, sodas and meats) covered until you’re sure it’s go-time. If the bugs are really bad, considering setting the buffet up inside and letting people bring the food out.

Place the Trash Far, Far Away -- And Put a Lid On It

Again, bugs are cruising for grub, including your leftovers. So make sure garbage is going in a sealed bag or can with a lid, and that all remainders (including drinks) are tossed immediately after use. But keep the trash away from the crowd, so hopefully any pests will hang out there instead of on your mac and cheese.

Get a Butterfly Net

If you have only one or two unwanted visitors, scoop ’em up with a butterfly net -- and then whack ’em with a shoe. Sorry, but unless you kill the little guy, he’ll just keep coming back for more. This is especially important if you catch a bee circling your sangria. If you don’t take swift action, he’ll tell all his friends back at the hive about the treasure he just discovered (yep, they really do that) and your party will be over before you have time to salvage the drinks from a bee attack.

Don’t Freak

Spazzing out won’t scare a wasp or bee away and it certainly won’t save you from getting stung. You’ll just look like a fool (and risk knocking over drinks and small children). Chill out. If a wasp is headed for your plate, calmly try waving it away with your hand before it lands.

Nestpert: Eric Grissell, an entomologist and author of Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens, who once had a yellow jacket fly into his mouth -- and sting him! -- as he was eating a chicken leg.

-- Erin van Vuuren

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