Keep Bees Off Hummingbird Feeders

Bees At Hummingbird Feeders


hummingbird at feeder


I have a new hummingbird feeder (it’s number 5), nothing fancy, that my husband decided to place on a tree limb right inside the tree that surrounds the front of our deck (in photo above).  I do not know why we didn’t think of this before but…what a great place to put it!  I can now sit on my deck and watch the hummers come in and feed on the nectar and zip around the tree through the water mister that is also in the tree.  All you hear is buzzing from the hummers as they race around inside the tree.

Yet today when I was sitting outside eating my lunch and enjoying those amazing acrobats, I noticed the dreaded bees.  Okay not really dreaded because bees are very good to have in your garden for pollinating.  However, I don’t know about you but bees (and wasps too) at my hummingbird feeders are not welcome  this time of year (end of summer/early Autumn) or for that matter any time, and that is because it deters my favorite birds from going to the feeder.  Yet, the end of summer is when the bees become the most annoying in the garden.

If you are in agreement with me and want to learn how to keep these pests away from your feeders or at least keep them at bay, you will want to read further.

A Little Background About Bees

beeBees pollinate over 80% of all flowering plants including 70 of the top 100 human food crops. One in three bites of food that we eat is derived from plants pollinated by bees.  Bees also provide nourishing habitats for animals like birds and insects and many of the floral landscapes that we know and love in nature are made possible because of the honey bee pollination.  That is why they are so important to have.

In late summer and fall,  the worker bees start to work long hours collecting enough nectar to feed and also to maintain their colony throughout the winter.  So as the days become shorter, the bees know it is time to go into this food-gathering mode and consequently become more frequent visitors in your garden.


What Do Bees Eat?

Bees eat nectar which is sweet water produced by and collected on flowers, and pollen a protein-rich powder that is the sperm that flowers use to reproduce.  Hummingbirds also drink nectar and the pollen from flowers so they tend to be seen around the same plants together.  So obviously, nectar feeders that we place in our yard are also an attraction for both the bees and hummingbirds.

How Do You Keep Bees Off Of Hummingbird Feeders?

There are some people who would say that you don’t keep bees from feeders because you should just let nature be (no pun intended).  They say that bees are going to the feeders because “their feeding supply is low, and because they are vital to the environment you should leave them alone.”  However, I disagree.  Yes, bees are very important but I do not want them at my feeders.  Here are some tips that you can try:

#1   Buy a hummingbird feeder that has bee guards.  These are the little yellow covers that go over the holes in the feeder (see photo to the left).  For some people these do the trick.  Yet, experts say that the color yellow attracts the bees and say that this method doesn’t work.  Still others say that squirrels and raccoons just pluck the yellow guards right off the feeder and suck the juice dry (I have had some experience with this).

#2  Try moving the feeder a few feet from where you have it.  Somehow this tricks them into thinking that it’s gone and they won’t find it. Or if the bees are too smart for this, try taking the feeder down for a day or two until they quit looking for it.  Don’t worry, the hummingbirds won’t give up as quick as the insects, they will come back.  Honestly, I really don’t buy this idea but it doesn’t hurt to try it out.

#3  You should always keep the feeders clean and especially if they leak as this attracts bees in.  Just clean the outside base and the feeder ports with soapy sponge and rinse well.

#4  Invest in a good hummingbird feeder  such as the Aspects 367 Hummzinger Ultra 12 ounce Hummingbird Feeder.  This feeder is a basin-type feeder that has a perch ring so the hummers can rest on it between feedings.  When you put nectar into the feeder it sits deep down in the dish which is easy for hummers to get to with their long beaks but keeps the bees and yellow jackets away.

  • Built-in ant moat – which will keep ants from getting to it (another problem that you could have).
  • Easy cleaning and filling – just take off the lid to clean with soap and water then fill with nectar.
  • 12-ounce capacity with 4 feeding ports – allows more than one hummer at the feeder at a time.
  • Raised flowers divert rain – keeps water out of the feeder.
  • Drip and leak proof – which helps to keep bees from finding it.

Seems like I should get a better hummingbird feeder to put in my tree like all the other ones that I have around my yard.  Obviously, my  cheapie feeder that I am using in the tree isn’t keeping the bees away.


Other Remedies That People Use

There are other remedies that people have used and swear by but should NOT be used such as cooking oil, menthol cough rubs, and petroleum jelly to name a few.  The reason is because the hummingbird’s feathers or bill may come in contact with it.  If these types of oil get on the bird it could kill them.  This is because of the fact that they produce their own oils for preening and additional oils can cause their feathers to become matted, which reduces their ability to fly and keep warm.

Also, while some people may use this….NEVER use pesticides, which are poison, around any type of feeders as  you may kill the birds.


In Conclusion

This is the time of year when you start to see bees and wasps more frequently around the garden.  This is because they can sense that the days are becoming shorter and that tells them it is time to start gathering their food (nectar and pollen) for the winter.  Consequently, if you have nectar feeders out for your hummingbirds you may start to see a congregation of bees or wasps around them.  There are a few remedies that you can try such as cleaning the feeder more frequently, moving the feeder a few feet to make the bees think that it is gone, or using a grated bee guard to place at the hole where the hummers drink.

Some people have found success with these little fixes but for the most part they are not that great.  Still others have tried cooking oils, vapor rubs, petroleum, and the like, but this may be fatal for the birds.

Lastly, a better idea may be to consider purchasing a better hummingbird feeder to place in your yard that will not only make it easier to clean and fill, but also to keep other pests such as ants out of it and the dreaded bees.  A good one that I have found is the Aspects 367 Hummzinger Ultra 12 ounce Hummingbird Feeder which really works well.  

If you have any thoughts and or success at  keeping bees and/or wasps away from your hummingbird feeder I would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to comment below.


Happy Birding!

Posted in Attracting Hummingbirds, Hummingbirds.

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