Misfit Animals is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn More.

What Colors Do Bees Hate & Why?

Bees are incredibly fascinating. Their highly social behavior, the way they forage, and the way they see the world, just to name a few aspects.

They have exceptional vision, from color recollection to their ability to distinguish objects while flying at high speeds.

Did you know that bees like and dislike some colors?

In this article, we’ll talk about what colors bees hate, why that is, as well as how you can use this information to navigate bees’ behavior.

What Colors Do Bees Hate?

Bees hate darker colors, as these are seen as threats to bees. Predators that prey on bees have darker colors, which is why they tend to either act more aggressively when facing something in the darker spectrum of colors.

adult bumblebee

Darker Colors (Red & Black)

Bees are generally not aggressive insects. They will only sting when they feel threatened or if they are provoked. Some colors can trigger this response in bees. 

If you find yourself face-to-face with a bee, there are colors that you should avoid wearing to prevent getting stung.

As said, bees don’t like darker colors, as they represent predators such as wasps, hornets, spiders, and raccoons, just to name a few. This also counts for many birds.

Red triggers a similar response, but not because of the color. Bees simply can’t see red, so to them, red and black are the same thing. This is why bees usually aren’t attracted to red flowers as well. [1]

bee on water

Can Bees See Red Colors?

No, bees can’t see red colors. This comes down to how their eyes process colors.

Color is processed by our eyes and brain and depends on what light is reflected by objects. Depending on the color of an object, it will absorb or reflect different light. For example, a blue box will absorb all light except for blue light, which is then reflected back to us.

Bees have three photoreceptors. These are specialized cells that detect light. Their color spectrum is based on blue, green, and ultraviolet light, meaning, they have no way of processing red light.

Humans also have three photoreceptors, each one detecting different light: red, green, and blue. Hence, we can see red – but not ultraviolet light, as bees can.

Related: Do bees see color and which ones?

Why Do Bees Hate Dark Colors?

Bees hate dark colors. They naturally associate them with predators. Lighter colors, like white or tan, are on the other hand associated with something unthreatening. That’s why bees are also attracted to flowers with brighter colors, and not ones with darker colors.

Dark Colors Can Be Seen as Predators

Scientists have long known that honeybees have color vision. They possess some of the most highly detailed and complex color vision systems in the animal kingdom.

Colors have a great significance to insects. Bees use colors to identify what flowers contain the most nectar, but also to identify threats.

Most bee predators have dark colors, which is why they feel threatened by these.

Bees aren’t threatened by dark colors in all situations. In flowers, the dark center resembles a contrast between the center and the petals.

spider eating a bee

What Colors Make Bees Attack?

As said, bees are threatened by, and hate, dark colors. These are the same colors bees that can trigger bees to attack.

If you want to avoid getting attacked by a swarm of bees, you should stay away from the following colors:

  • Black
  • Dark gray
  • Red
  • Dark orange

These colors make bees attack because they’re associated with dangerous situations. Bees can also be threatened by colors that aren’t commonly found in their native habitat.

Dark yellow colors can also make bees attack. Especially when combined with black, this combination is similar to the dangerous predators that bees have evolved to defend themselves against, like wasps and hornets. 

Bees are on the other hand also drawn to yellow, as we see in their interaction with sunflowers. [2]

bee on a sunflower

Which Colors Will Repel Bees?

There are several different theories involving the color of clothing and its repelling effect on bees. However, the truth is that colors can’t repel bees at all.

What Not to Wear Around Bees

There are several things you should avoid wearing when hanging around bees:

  • Dark-colored clothes
  • Loose clothes
  • Cologne, perfume, or other strong scents
  • Sandals or open shoes
  • Short clothes (your clothes should cover your entire body)

Beekeepers should not wear clothing that is too loose, as bees can, and will sometimes, fly under your clothes.

Don’t wear sandals or shoes that are open at the heel, toe, or ankle. Again, you don’t want unnecessary exposure to your skin.

It is also best not to wear cologne, deodorant, or perfume when working around bees, as these scents may make them more irritable. Of course, do not smoke around the bees either; you can disturb their hive, and they may sting you as a result.

bee attacks

How to Avoid Getting Stung by Bees

If you want to avoid getting stung by bees, there are several safety precautions you should take:

  • Wear light and tightly fitted clothes.
  • Wear protective gear, or clothes that cover your entire body.
  • Most importantly: stay calm around the bees.

Wear Light Colors

Bees are threatened by dark colors, so it is recommended that you wear light colors. If you don’t want the bees to bother you, consider wearing white or pale clothes. 

However, you should also avoid using perfume, cologne, and scented hair products, as these may aggravate the bees.

beekeeper-or-apiarist-collecting-pollen-from-beehive (1)

Wear Protective Gear or Clothes That Cover Your Entire Body

One of the best ways to avoid getting stung by bees is to wear protective gear or clothes that cover your entire body.

There are many types of clothing and equipment that will keep you completely covered and unharmed. 

You can find bee suits, vests, gloves, and masks for adults and children at most beekeeping supply stores online. You can even find bee-proof clothing made of fabrics specifically designed to prevent stings.

protective gear for beekeeper

Stay Calm

When a person is stung by a bee for the first time, they often get stung again because they make sudden movements and agitate the bees. 

Hence, you should always stay calm when around bees. 

Bees can be aggravated by sudden movements, as these are associated with predators, trying to kill them.

What Colors Are Bees Attracted To?

Bees are attracted to bright colors, most of all blue, violet, and ultraviolet. This is, again, due to the way bees see color, as well as their foraging behavior.

But why are bees attracted to specific colors? 

Bees are more attracted to particular colors because flowers with these colors tend to be the ones with the sweetest nectar. 

Depending on where the bees live, they’ll be more inclined to be drawn to different colors, though a study showed that specifically blue and violet attracted bees most consistently. [3]

The study of bees’ color vision also provides some insight into why bees are attracted to specific colors. Bees have receptors in their eyes that are sensitive to ultraviolet light, which means they can see UV markings on flowers. 

According to research, bees can also use these markings as indicators of how deep inside a flower’s petals it should probe for nectar with its tongue.

Related: What colors are bees attracted to the most?

Two Bees on a purple flower

Conclusion

Bees hate dark colors. The darker the color, the more likely it is to be associated with a predator. Bees are not alone in their dislike of dark colors. Red triggers a similar response, as bees see red as black.

If you want to avoid being stung by bees, avoid wearing dark colors. Wear something light instead, like white, pale, or tan.

Related: How bees see

While bees can be attracted to and threatened by, certain colors, no colors work as bee repellant.

If you want to stay safe around bees, you should also wear protective clothing, as well as stay calm. Bees can be threatened by sudden movements.

About Teodoro Pittman

Teodoro is a nature and animal lover. He specifically focuses on insects, such as ants, bees, and the like. In his free time, he takes care of his own ant farm, where he analyzes their behavior. Teodoro has spent the last 7 years studying the intricate behavior of these small creatures.