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Now that the season of picnics and barbecues is officially here, your thoughts may also go to typical summer pests. The last thing anyone wants to see once the grill is fired up is bees buzzing around your guests. The problem is that commercial repellents and insecticides often contain toxic chemicals that you probably don’t want to use around your friends, family or pets. But not to worry — you can keep bees from being a buzzkill by making your own natural bee repellent.

But First, a Little About Bees

Pollinators, like bees, are essential to our very existence. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “cross-pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive. Without bees to spread seeds, many plants — including food crops — would die off.”

I live in the Central Valley of California, where we are probably more aware than most about the importance of bees for pollination. Every year, California almond growers import honey bees from other states to pollinate their $2.3-billion-a-year crop.

If your backyard barbecues are always being attended by swarms of bees or wasps, take a look at your landscaping. If you have sweet-scented flowers and plants that are attracting the bees, you may want to rethink where and what you’re planting in your yard.

I was thrilled to speak with beekeeping experts Bob and Juli Morlock, from Morlock Honey Farms in North Dakota. During almond pollination season, their honey bees travel to the Central Valley to pollinate almonds. They (the bees and the Morlocks) winter in Texas, then head back to North Dakota to spin out their honey. They help to make that state…