Those who love to see birds in their backyards often take steps to attract the hummingbird, a wonderful bird that can, among other things, hover in mid-air. These stunning creatures can dart back and forth from flower to flower as they look for their favorite food source: nectar. Knowing how much they love nectar, bird watchers will often place hummingbird feeders on their property to attract them, but this can also attract other creatures that love nectar, including bees and wasps. This may mean you are interested to know how to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders. If so, read on.
How Do I Keep the Bees Off My Hummingbird Feeder?
Bees might be seen as pests by those looking to attract hummingbirds, but it is important to remember that bees are gentle insects that are absolutely vital to the ecosystem. It is crucially important then that you never use insecticides or pesticides to deter them. The good news is that there are many natural methods you can use to keep bees off your hummingbird feeder.
What you should be aware of initially is that the odd bee or wasp here or there is unlikely to stop hummingbirds visiting your feeder. Hummingbirds actually eat some insects – such as beetles and mosquitos – so they are not particularly fazed by lone bees or wasps. However, should your feeder become overrun with ants, bees, or wasps, you may find that the hummingbirds stay away, which is not what you want. If bees and other insects are becoming a problem, the following tips might help.
1. Try Saucer Feeders
Saucer feeders are popular with birders because they are great at keeping insects away. These feeders are like covered dishes or saucers. They contain feeding ports that the hummingbirds can easily use thanks to their long tongues. Some saucer feeders can accommodate up to six hummingbirds at a time. These saucer feeders make the nectar easily accessible for the hummingbirds, but bees and wasps cannot get in.
In addition to the feeding ports designed specifically for hummingbirds, saucer feeders are often red, which is a color bees cannot see. This means the feeder will be noticeable to the hummingbirds but less so to the bees. Yellow feeders are not recommended as bees and wasps are attracted to this color. If you’re interested, Amazon offers a great selection of saucer feeders for hummingbirds. Click here to take a look (opens in a new tab).
2. Install Bee Guards
If you already have a hummingbird feeder and do not want to buy a saucer feeder, you can buy bee guards or use mesh instead. Bee guards or mesh are placed around the ports on the hummingbird feeder, which allows the birds to get to the food but keeps the bees away. Bees will not spend too long trying to get to nectar that is impossible to access. They will lose interest and move on to find a more convenient food source.
3. Move Your Feeder
If your hummingbird feeders are being targeted by bees and other insects, it might be worth moving them every so often as even a move of just three or four feet will mean that the birds can still find them easily but the insects may have difficulty. Insects are also less likely to search for the moved feeder and will instead look for food that is conveniently located.
4. Choose a Shady Spot
Bees prefer sunlight so will look for food sources that are out of the shade. This means that if you place your feeder in a shady spot, you are less likely to have a problem with flying insects such as bees. Another benefit of a shaded spot is that the nectar is less likely to overheat and spoil.
5. Clean the Feeder Regularly
Birds are not the cleanest of eaters and inevitably some nectar will drop onto the top of the feeder as the birds are eating. It is best to get into the habit of cleaning the feeder every time you refill it. This will help to prevent bees and other insects such as ants from finding it easily.
Are Hummingbirds Afraid of Bees?
Hummingbirds are not afraid of bees, but they will avoid feeders if there are too many bees about purely because they know the bees are competing for the same food source. Hummingbirds will look for alternative sources of nectar if there are too many bees around a feeder.
Does Peppermint Oil Keep Bees Away from Hummingbird Feeders?
Bees and wasps are not particularly fond of peppermint oil and the fact that it doesn’t seem to bother hummingbirds means that some birders swear by dabbing a small amount of the oil around their feeders. This is a terrific way to keep your hummingbird feeder free from bees and wasps. It is important to repeat this process regularly to keep the scent fresh, especially if it has been raining.
Bees and other insects such as wasps and ants are attracted to hummingbird feeders because these typically contain nectar. However, if too many insects are on or around the feeder, the hummingbirds may stay away. There are natural ways to keep insects away from hummingbird feeders, avoiding the need to use chemicals such as insecticides or pesticides. Using saucer feeders that allow hummingbirds to access the nectar while keeping bees and other insects out is one of the best methods. You can also use bee guards or mesh to prevent the insects from getting to the nectar. Other methods include moving the feeder regularly and putting it in a shaded spot.