Hummingbirds love nectar, so if you put out a feeder, there’s a good chance they’ll come and visit your garden. Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones who are attracted to the sweet smell of the sugary nectar. So, if you’re not careful you could find your feeder full of ants, wasps and bees.
While hummingbirds do eat insects as part of their diet, they may avoid drinking nectar if it’s full of dead bugs. This bug-ridden nectar can also be unhealthy for the hummers.
So, how do you keep bees away from your hummingbird feeder? Here are a few suggestions.
- 1 Our 9 Tips To Keep Bees Away From Your Feeder
- 1.1 1. Use A Feeder With A Bee Guard
- 1.2 2. Color Matters
- 1.3 3. Move Your Feeder Around Your Garden
- 1.4 4. Provide An Alternative Food Source For The Bees
- 1.5 5. Keep Your Feeders Clean And Leak-Proof
- 1.6 6. Dilute The Nectar So That It’s Not As Sweet
- 1.7 7. Plant A Flower Garden To Keep The Bees Happy
- 1.8 8. Keep Your Feeder Out Of The Sun
- 1.9 9. Try Hanging A Fake Wasp Nest Near Your Feeder
- 1.10 What To Avoid
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions:
- 3 Final Thoughts
Our 9 Tips To Keep Bees Away From Your Feeder
1. Use A Feeder With A Bee Guard
You can purchase hummingbird feeders that already have bee guards installed. These have smaller holes that the bees aren’t able to get through. But, the holes are just large enough to allow the hummingbirds to access the sweet nectar inside.
Hummingbirds have long tongues and beaks and can access places that bees simply can’t reach.
If the feeder you have doesn’t have a bee guard already installed, you can easily buy these and install them yourself. They are tiny cages that fit over the feeding ports.
Once the bees realize that they can’t access the nectar, they’ll leave your feeders alone and go in search of alternative food sources.
2. Color Matters
Did you know that hummingbirds are attracted to the color red? Conversely, bees (and wasps and hornets) are attracted to the color yellow. Bees are also unable to see the color red, so it will be harder for them to find a totally red feeder. Plus, black signals danger to bees.
Therefore, you want to ensure that your hummingbird feeder is all red and black and doesn’t contain any yellow decorations such as flowers. If your feeder does have yellow flowers or decorative elements, either remove them or paint them red or black instead.
If your feeder is all red, it’s unlikely to attract bees in the first place, especially if you have yellow flowers elsewhere in the garden.
3. Move Your Feeder Around Your Garden
Moving your hummingbird feeder around your garden can often confuse bees and other insects because they are always looking for the most convenient food sources.
You can easily move your feeders every time you refill them. The hummingbirds will still find them but the bees or other insects may not.
Be sure though, to not move the feeders too often as you might confuse the hummers as well.
If you have multiple feeders, just swap these out with each other and move them a few feet every time you refill them.
4. Provide An Alternative Food Source For The Bees
Having an alternative food source for the bees near your hummingbird feeder is a great idea. You can either use a similar feeder or just a bowl filled with very sugary water.
If this alternative food source container is yellow, it’s even better. Make sure the water is very sugary (more than 5 to 1 water-to-sugar ratio). And, if you’re just using a bowl, make sure it’s shallow so the bees don’t drown in it.
Remember, having bees in your garden is very beneficial. Especially, if you’re growing vegetables and fruit. Bees are absolutely the best pollinators.
Locate this “bee feeder” close to your hummingbird feeder to attract the bees away from the hummer nectar. This way you can have both happy hummingbirds and beneficial bees in your garden.
5. Keep Your Feeders Clean And Leak-Proof
You want to ensure that you keep your feeders clean and that they don’t leak any nectar. Lots of sweet residue on the outside of your feeder is sure to attract many different insects.
Ideally, give your feeder a good wash in clean water once a week. You can even let it soak overnight. This will remove any drops of nectar that may have dried on the outside of the feeder. It’s also a good idea to quickly wipe away any excess nectar that you can see in between washes.
You also want to make sure that your feeder is not leaking either. Make sure the seal between the feeder ports and the bottle reservoir is nice and tight. You can wind some plumbers tape around the threads to ensure a good seal too. Just make sure the tape doesn’t come into contact with the nectar as it may contaminate it.
6. Dilute The Nectar So That It’s Not As Sweet
Bees love sugar, so the sweeter your nectar is, the more they’ll be attracted to it. In fact, if your nectar contains too much sugar, the bees will prefer it rather than the flowers in your garden.
Therefore, dilute your nectar a little to make it less sweet. The hummingbirds will still love it, but the bees will leave it to hunt down sweeter nectar from the flowers.
Another take on this is to ensure that the feeder or nectar you’ve put out for the bees is sweeter than the nectar in the hummingbird feeder. This will ensure that the bees will leave the hummers’ food alone.
7. Plant A Flower Garden To Keep The Bees Happy
Bees are the planet’s pollinators. In fact, a lot of our food crops would dry up if we didn’t have bees to pollinate them. Similarly, bees love flowers in the garden. And, you’ll find that hummingbirds will be attracted to the flowers as well.
Do some research and plant flowers, both annuals and perennials, that provide food sources for both bees and hummers. Varieties to try include Petunia, Zinnia, Trumpet Creeper and Bee Balm.
Not only will all these flowers keep both the bees and the hummers happy, but you can enjoy all the lovely blooms as well.
8. Keep Your Feeder Out Of The Sun
Hanging your feeders in part-shade will make them less attractive to bees. You see, bees look for nectar and pollen in the sunlight because flowers tend to bloom in bright sun.
Hummingbirds, on the other hand, will find your feeders whether they’re hanging in the sun or part-shade. Keeping your feeders out of direct sunlight will also help to keep the nectar fresher for longer.
Less sunlight will slow down the fermentation process of the nectar. Plus, your feeders won’t get as hot, so the plastic is less likely to expand and create leaks in the feeder.
9. Try Hanging A Fake Wasp Nest Near Your Feeder
Bees and wasps are territorial. Therefore, if you hang a fake nest near your feeder, they’ll likely stay away because they will think that spot is already taken by another colony. To appear as real as possible, the fake nest should measure around 11 x 8 inches.
What To Avoid
You might be tempted to try other solutions to keep bees and other insects away from your hummingbird feeders, but be careful. More drastic measures can possibly harm the hummers as well.
Avoid the following:
- Pesticides. Never spray your feeders with any type of insecticide. This is likely to contaminate the nectar as well and cause harm to the hummingbirds. Plus, hummers might eat the infected insects and ingest the pesticide themselves.
- Putting oil or petroleum jelly on the feeder. This will certainly deter insects but it may also inadvertently get onto the hummingbirds. If any of these substances get on their wings, it could make it harder for them to fly.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are hummingbirds afraid of bees?
No, but if too many insects feed on the nectar, it will become contaminated. This will deter hummers away from your feeders.
Can bees drink from hummingbird feeders?
If the feeders are not fitted with bee guards, then bees can indeed drink the sweet nectar.
What is the best hummingbird feeder that doesn’t leak?
A good hummingbird feeder should have a dish or saucer that holds the nectar below the feeding ports. These generally will not leak unless they’re tipped over.
Are glass hummingbird feeders better than plastic?
Generally, glass feeder are more durable than plastic and can be easier to clean. Plastic feeders can warp and crack if left in the sun for long periods of time. This will eventually cause them to leak.
Keeping bees and other insects out of your hummingbird feeders requires diligence and vigilance. You need to ensure that your feeders are clean and wipe away any excess nectar as soon as you can.
It’s also a good idea to provide an alternative food source for the bees such as a shallow bowl of sweet nectar or a full-blooming flower garden.
Inspect your feeders regularly to ensure that they haven’t developed any leaks.
And lastly, remember that bees are very beneficial in your garden as well. So, you don’t want to drive them away altogether.
Hopefully, you’ve found these steps for keeping bees away from your hummingbird feeder useful. If you have any additional tips to share, please add them in the comments below.