Does Neem Oil Kill Bees? (Solved)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Although neem oil has a lot of medicinal properties and is usually advocated for skin repair and growth, it is not exactly beneficial to insects.

The bee population in the world has been declining dramatically and one of the major reasons is the use of pesticides around them.

Gardeners and beekeepers use pesticides to control insects that are seen as pests but this can be harmful to the bees leading to their decline.

If you are applying neem oil to areas around your yard or garden and you keep bees, then you have to know the proper way to apply it so as not to have an adverse effect on your bee population.

This article will help break down how neem oil is harmful to bees and how you can avoid hurting your bees when applying it.

What Is Neem Oil and What Is It Made Of?

Does Neem Oil Kill Bees

Neem oil is extracted from the fruits and seeds of the neem tree which grows in India. Neem oil is made up of rich fatty acids such as palmitic and linoleic acids.

These acids help skin stay supple and healthy.

Neem oil is popular in skin care production and is also known for other health related benefits. Other health of neem oil include: 

  • Fighting skin infections
  • Anti-aging
  • Rapid wound healing
  • Stimulate collagen production
  • Reduce scarring.

Despite it’s skin benefits, neem oil can be detrimental to insects and is used as a biopesticide to control pest and insect population. 

Related: Here is an article I wrote on do bees have bones?

How Long is Neem Oil Toxic To Bees?

Neem oil is usually used to make organic pesticides and even though it is deemed safe to an extent it can be harmful to the bees if misused.

Neem oil is deadly to almost all insects and bees are not an exception.

As hymenopterans neem oil around bees reduces their food intake, and stunts the larvae and pupae development.

If neem oil is sprayed on bees it leads to clogging up of their respiratory systems and suffocation.

Neem oil should not be sprayed to plants around bee hives as they can carry the parts of the plant back to the hive to eat. 

When it is ingested, the main ingredient of the neem tree Azadirachtin, works in the body to confuse their system leading to death.

It doesn’t cause death immediately but deters the insect from feeding and carrying out other important activities such as mating.

If it affects only the worker bees, it might not be destructive enough but if it reaches the queen bee or drones it could decimate a significant amount of the bee population.

Are Bees Attracted To Neem Oil?

Bees are not attracted to neem oil as it has harmful effects on them. If used at the period the bees are not active, it has no harmful effect on them. 

Neem oil is used as herbicides and fungicides and insecticides. They are used to control insect pests.

If used in dry formulation it won’t have any effects on the bees but when it is wet it is toxic to the bees as it easily sticks to plants and other places from which they can transfer it to their hive. 

The smell of neem oil repels bees and that is why it is used as a repellent and insecticide.

If you have to use neem oil to repel other insects around your bee hive then make sure you spray it at night when the bees are less active so it is dry and less harmful to them by morning.

Does Neem Oil Kill Bees and Butterflies?

Neem oil is generally deemed to be harmful to the insect population and that is why it is used as an insecticide and insect repellent.

As much as neem can repel other insects it can also have a deleterious effect on beneficial insects such as bees, ladybugs and butterflies.

If you have been spraying neem oil insecticide and you realise butterflies are no longer in your gardens, they have been repelled by the smell of the neem oil.

The way neem oil kills bees, it can also kill butterflies as they pick it from plants or plant pollen and then the active ingredient messes with their system and deters them from carrying out life survival activities ultimately leading to their death.

Also check out this article I wrote do bees lay eggs?

Does Neem Oil Wash Off In Rain?

Neem oil insecticides like most insecticides break down quickly. They can be washed away with rain water or irrigation.

If you sprayed neem oil to repel insects or pests before  a heavy rain, it is advisable that you spray again after the rain as it would have washed away after the first application.

It is also better to spray 7 days after first application to kill off already laid eggs of insect pests.

After this, spraying every three to four weeks will keep the insects off your yard or plants.

What Are The Side Effects Of Neem Oil?

Neem oil has a variety of medicinal benefits for humans, animals and plants.

As we established earlier neem oil can be used for treating skin infections and is also useful in clearing up acne, pimples, warts and other skin problems.

For plants neem oil is used as an insecticide and herbicide to protect the plants from weeds, fungi and insect pests because it is known to possess an antimicrobial that repels them.

This helps to ensure that the plant is not chopped up by parasitic influences.

Neem oil is not known to be harmful to humans and animals but to insects neem oil can be harmful as it repels them and it can also cause death to them within a very short period.

Neem oil is to be used for external use only, it is supposed to be rubbed into the skin. Taking neem oil orally can cause nausea and vomiting.

Also it sometimes causes itching and reddening of the skin especially for people who might be allergic to it.

In all, the health benefits of neem oil far outweighs the negative effects.

Is Neem Oil Safe For Plants?

Neem oil is regularly applied to plants as a pesticide and fungicide to ward off parasitic influences from garden plants and crop plants.

Neem oil is deemed safe for almost all plants and it is regularly used to protect plants from plant eating insects.

For an effective application follow the instructions on the neem oil pack label while spraying on the plants.

If you are using homemade neem oil solutions however, you can start one part of the affected plant at first and watch the reaction for a day.

After that you can apply once a week and ensure that parts of the leaves are coated with the oil to have a full effect.

To avoid adverse effects do not spray neem oil on plants during extreme temperatures and when there is too much sunlight.

Just like every other substance do not over apply neem oil to your plants so as not to have other negative effects on them.

Is Neem Oil Poisonous To Dogs?

Neem oil is also used on dogs to treat flea bites. It also serves as a repellent against ticks and fleas. 

It is usually used as a topical cure on the skin of dogs for a variety of purposes.

It serves as a pesticide to ward off mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and other dog parasites. Neem oil also helps to relieve the dog of skin itchiness, dry spots and insect bites.

Neem oil helps the dog fight infections and also purifies the blood when it is applied regularly as it flows into the bloodstream and protects against further infections.

When applied to the skin, neem oil is not harmful to dogs and they typically do not ingest it as they are replied by the smell and tea like taste of the oil. 

Neem oil has been know to work wonders in clearing dog’s skin infections and many dog owners have praised it as a good alternative to other drugs.

Is Neem Oil Harmful To Humans?

Neem oil though very beneficial to human skin can be very toxic and dangerous when ingested by humans.

When taken orally, neem oil is potentially toxic to humans and can cause vomiting, kidney failure, seizures, and can affect the liver.

Ingestion of neem oil should only occur when it is directed or supervised by a physician.

Children and pregnant women should totally avoid oral intake of neem oil.

As such when the use of neem oil is necessary in a large household, it should be stored properly to avoid children playing with it and ingesting it.

Neem oil even with it’s many medicinal properties can also have its negative effects. 

If you are a beekeeper and also a gardener then you should know how to balance the use of neem so as not to adversely affect those beneficial insects. 

You can also use neem oil to treat your skin infections and those of your dogs too without having to worry about any reaction.

However you should be sure you are not allergic to it to avoid allergic reactions.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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