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. To this end, you might be interested to know how to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders. If so, this article is for you.
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 that can be used 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 20 suggestions might be of help:
1. Use a feeder with bee guards or bee-resistant design
To effectively deter bees from visiting your hummingbird feeders, consider investing in a feeder with built-in bee guards or a bee-resistant design. These specially designed feeders incorporate features such as small feeding ports, moats, and mesh barriers to prevent bees from accessing the nectar while still allowing hummingbirds to feed comfortably. By creating a physical barrier that is difficult for bees to navigate, these feeders can significantly reduce the number of unwanted visitors without compromising the hummingbirds’ dining experience. Moreover, as an added bonus, many bee-resistant feeders also deter wasps and ants, ensuring a peaceful and enjoyable atmosphere for your feathered friends.
2. Hang the feeder in a shaded area, away from direct sunlight
To effectively deter bees from approaching your hummingbird feeder, hang it in a shaded area, away from direct sunlight. Bees are attracted to brightly lit areas so by placing the feeder in a location with minimal sunlight, you can significantly reduce their presence. Moreover, hummingbirds are more than capable of finding food in shaded environments, so you won’t hinder their ability to locate the feeder. This strategy also offers the added benefit of preventing the sugar water in the feeder from fermenting too quickly, which can occur in hot, sunny conditions. Ultimately, hanging the feeder in a shaded spot provides a more enjoyable feeding experience for hummingbirds while discouraging unwanted bee activity.
3. Move the feeder to a location where there are fewer flowers or plants that attract bees
Relocating the hummingbird feeder to an area with fewer flowers or plants that are enticing to bees can be an effective strategy for minimizing their presence. Bees are naturally drawn to nectar-rich flowers and plants, so by positioning the feeder away from these botanical attractions you can reduce the likelihood of bee encounters. When selecting a new location, try to find a spot that offers enough distance from floral hotspots while still providing a welcoming and safe environment for your hummingbirds. You might consider placing the feeder near plants that are less appealing to bees, such as those with tubular flowers that hummingbirds can easily access. By making this simple adjustment, you can create a more peaceful feeding experience for your hummingbird visitors while discouraging bees from competing for the sweet nectar.
4. Use a feeder with smaller feeding ports or slots, making it harder for bees to access
In order to deter bees from visiting your hummingbird feeders, consider utilizing feeders with smaller feeding ports or slots. These minuscule openings make it increasingly difficult for bees to access the sugary nectar within as their larger size in comparison to hummingbirds prevents them from reaching it. Consequently, this design feature maintains the allure of the feeder for the nimble hummingbirds, who can still easily access the nectar due to their slender beaks and long tongues. By opting for feeders with these smaller ports, you can effectively reduce the presence of bees around your hummingbird feeders, ensuring a peaceful and exclusive dining experience for your feathered friends.
5. Mix the nectar with water in a ratio of 1:4 or 1:5, which reduces its attractiveness to bees
Mixing the nectar with water in a ratio of 1:4 or 1:5 is an effective technique to deter bees from your hummingbird feeders. By diluting the sugar content the nectar becomes less appealing to bees, who typically prefer a higher concentration of sweetness. At the same time, this diluted nectar will still provide adequate sustenance for hummingbirds as they are able to extract sufficient nutrients even from a less concentrated solution. As a result, you can successfully maintain a hummingbird-friendly environment while discouraging bees from visiting your feeder, ensuring a harmonious balance between these captivating creatures.
6. Clean the feeder regularly and change the nectar every few days to prevent fermentation and spoilage that may attract bees
Maintaining a clean hummingbird feeder is crucial in order to discourage bees from being attracted to the area. To achieve this, it is important to establish a regular cleaning routine and replace the nectar every few days. Over time, nectar can ferment and spoil, creating a more appealing aroma for bees who are drawn to the scent of decaying sugar. By diligently cleaning the feeder with a solution of warm water and mild soap and following this with a thorough rinse, you can remove any residue that may entice bees to visit. Furthermore, changing the nectar frequently helps ensure that the sweet liquid remains fresh and appealing to hummingbirds while minimizing the risk of attracting unwanted visitors. By taking these simple steps, you can create a welcoming environment for hummingbirds without inadvertently inviting bees to join the feast.
7. Place a saucer of water or shallow dish of sugary water away from the feeder to divert the bees’ attention
A smart strategy to prevent bees from swarming your hummingbird feeder is to set up a separate, enticing source of nourishment for them at a safe distance. By placing a saucer of water or a shallow dish containing a sugary solution away from the hummingbird feeder, you can effectively redirect the bees’ attention. This alternative refreshment zone for the bees will satisfy their natural craving for sweetness while allowing the hummingbirds to continue enjoying their feeder undisturbed. When setting up the diversion, make sure to maintain a generous distance between the two feeding areas to ensure the bees remain focused on their designated treat and avoid cross-contamination. This simple yet effective method will help maintain harmony in your garden ecosystem as both the hummingbirds and bees coexist peacefully while accessing the sustenance they need.
8. Place bait stations near the feeder to lure bees away from the hummingbird feeder
Placing bait stations near your hummingbird feeder can be an effective method for redirecting bees and preventing them from disturbing your feathered visitors. To create a simple yet efficient bee bait station, fill a shallow dish with a sugary solution made from a mixture of water and sugar in a 1:1 ratio. This concoction will serve as an attractive lure for bees, drawing them away from the hummingbird feeder. Position the bee bait station a short distance away from the feeder, but not so far that the bees won’t notice it. Be sure to regularly clean and refill the bait station to maintain its effectiveness. However, always handle these stations with care as bees may be present, and avoid using any harmful chemicals or pesticides that may be detrimental to the bee population.
9. Apply a thin layer of cooking oil or petroleum jelly around the feeding ports or the bottom of the feeder to deter bees from landing and feeding
Applying a thin layer of cooking oil or petroleum jelly around the feeding ports or the bottom of the hummingbird feeder can effectively deter bees from landing and feeding. These substances create a slippery surface that makes it difficult for bees to grip and access the nectar inside. Hummingbirds, on the other hand, won’t be affected by the presence of the oil or jelly as they can still access the nectar through their long beaks and agile hovering abilities. Make sure to reapply the cooking oil or petroleum jelly periodically to maintain its effectiveness, especially after rain or cleaning the feeder. This simple yet efficient method will help ensure that your hummingbird feeder remains an inviting and exclusive source of nourishment for your feathered friends.
10. Hang a fake wasp or hornet nest near the feeder to make bees believe that a predator is nearby and discourage them from feeding
Hanging a faux wasp or hornet nest in close proximity to your hummingbird feeder can effectively deter bees from approaching the area. Bees are cautious creatures and tend to avoid potential threats to their safety. By simulating the presence of natural predators such as wasps or hornets, you create a seemingly hostile environment that convinces bees to steer clear of the hummingbird feeder. These imitation nests can be made from materials such as paper or lightweight fabric and should be placed within a few feet of the feeder for optimal results. As an added benefit, the presence of the mock nest also deters other unwanted pests, ensuring a more peaceful feeding experience for the hummingbirds.
11. Use a hummingbird feeder with a moat or ant guard to prevent ants from reaching the nectar, which can also attract bees
In order to maintain a bee-free environment around your hummingbird feeders, it’s essential to utilize feeders equipped with moats or ant guards. These features serve as effective deterrents for ants, which often seek out the sweet nectar inside the feeder. By preventing ants from accessing the nectar, you can minimize the chances of the feeder becoming a target for bees. Bees are also attracted to the nectar and may follow the trail of ants to the source. Selecting a feeder designed with a built-in moat or ant guard can be an efficient and straightforward solution to keep bees at bay, ensuring that your hummingbirds can enjoy their meals without unwanted interference.
12. Choose a feeder with a shape and color that is less attractive to bees, such as a tube feeder with red or orange flowers that are hidden from view
To effectively discourage bees from visiting your hummingbird feeders, select a feeder design that is less appealing to these buzzing insects. Tube feeders, for example, are an excellent option as they make it more challenging for bees to access the nectar. Additionally, choosing a feeder adorned with red or orange flowers can be helpful since these colors are less likely to attract bees. To further enhance the effectiveness of this strategy, choose a feeder where the colorful flowers are concealed from plain sight. This will not only keep bees at bay, but will also allow the hummingbirds to enjoy their nectar in peace.
13. Hang the feeder higher up or lower down from its current position, as some bees may have a harder time reaching the feeder if it is higher or lower than where they typically fly
Adjusting the height of your hummingbird feeder can be an effective strategy to deter bees from accessing it. Bees tend to have a specific altitude range within which they comfortably forage for nectar. By hanging the feeder outside of this preferred range, you can reduce the likelihood of bees discovering and frequenting it. Experiment with different heights to find the optimal position that still allows hummingbirds to feed with ease while making it more challenging for bees to reach. This not only helps to keep the bees away but also ensures that your hummingbird feeder remains an inviting and accessible source of nourishment for these delightful little birds.
14. Try using a different type of nectar recipe or sweetener, such as agave nectar or honey water, which may be less attractive to bees than plain sugar water
Trying a different type of nectar recipe or sweetener can be an effective way to deter bees from your hummingbird feeders. Agave nectar and honey water are both viable alternatives to plain sugar water as they can be less enticing to bees while still providing nourishment for hummingbirds. When preparing agave nectar, simply mix one part agave syrup with three parts water. For honey water, mix one part honey with nine parts water. Keep in mind that it is essential to change the solution in your feeder every two to three days as honey water can ferment more quickly than sugar water, which may harm the hummingbirds. By experimenting with these alternative sweeteners, you can help to create a more enjoyable environment for hummingbirds without attracting unwanted visitors.
15. Consider planting bee-friendly flowers and plants in a different area of your yard, away from the hummingbird feeder, to attract bees away from the feeder
By creating a separate, enticing area in your yard filled with bee-friendly flowers and plants, you can effectively redirect bees away from your hummingbird feeders. Choose blooms such as lavender, echinacea, sunflowers, and borage as these are highly attractive to bees and will encourage them to forage in that designated space. Position this bee haven away from your hummingbird feeders, ideally at a distance that minimizes the likelihood of the bees discovering the feeders. Additionally, implementing a variety of plants with different blooming periods will ensure that your pollinator garden remains appealing to bees throughout the season. This thoughtful approach not only minimizes the interaction between bees and hummingbirds at your feeders, but it also supports the local bee population by providing them with a rich and diverse food source.
16. Move the feeder to a different location if it is attracting too many bees, as some areas may naturally have more bee activity than others
Moving the hummingbird feeder to an alternative location can be an effective solution to deter bees, as certain areas may inherently experience a higher concentration of these buzzing visitors. To begin, assess your current placement and observe the surroundings. Dense vegetation, flowering plants, or proximity to a known hive can contribute to increased bee activity. When selecting a new location, choose a spot that is less appealing to bees, such as one with fewer flowers and away from their typical foraging zones. Additionally, consider placing the feeder in a shaded area, as bees are generally more active in direct sunlight. By thoughtfully relocating your hummingbird feeder, you can create an environment that is more inviting to the intended guests while minimizing the presence of bees.
17. Use a physical barrier, such as a mesh cage or plastic dome, around the feeder to prevent bees from accessing the nectar ports
To effectively deter bees from your hummingbird feeders, consider implementing a physical barrier. By incorporating a mesh cage or plastic dome around the feeder, you can create a protective shield that allows only the hummingbirds to access the nectar ports. Choose a mesh with small enough openings to prevent bees from entering while still allowing the hummingbirds to easily access the feeder. Alternatively, a plastic dome can be placed above the feeder, with a sufficient overhang to prevent bees from landing on the feeding ports. Both of these methods not only help to maintain a bee-free environment for your hummingbirds but also ensure that the nectar remains uncontaminated for their enjoyment.
18. Consider using a natural bee repellent such as peppermint oil or citronella around the feeder or in the surrounding area to discourage bees from approaching
Using natural bee repellents is an excellent strategy for discouraging bees from approaching your hummingbird feeders without causing harm to the bees or the environment. Two highly effective options include peppermint oil and citronella. To use peppermint oil, dilute a few drops with water in a spray bottle and gently mist the surrounding area and feeder, taking care not to contaminate the nectar. Alternatively, citronella candles or essential oil can be strategically placed around your feeding station. Both peppermint and citronella emit strong scents that bees find unpleasant, and this will deter them from getting too close. Employing these natural deterrents means that you’ll create a more peaceful environment for hummingbirds to enjoy their nectar without the interference of bees.
19. Remove any spilled nectar or sugar water around the feeder, as this can attract bees and other insects
To maintain a bee-free environment around your hummingbird feeder, it’s important to clean up any spilled nectar or sugar water in the vicinity. Bees and other insects are naturally drawn to sweet substances, and even the smallest amount can lure them to your feeder. Make a habit of wiping down the area surrounding your feeder with a damp cloth or sponge after each refill to remove any lingering nectar. Additionally, if you notice any spills on the ground, promptly wash the area with water to dilute the sugary residue. This simple yet effective practice will significantly reduce the likelihood of bees and other unwanted insects visiting your hummingbird feeder.
20. Place a decoy feeder filled with plain water near the hummingbird feeder to distract bees and other insects
Placing a decoy feeder filled with plain water near your hummingbird feeder can be an effective way to divert the attention of bees and other insects. The decoy feeder will act as a magnet for these unwanted visitors, drawing them away from the main feeder and allowing your hummingbirds to feed in peace. Bees and other insects are attracted to the water, and once they discover that it is not a source of nectar, they will be more likely to leave the area. Make sure to position the decoy feeder within a reasonable distance from the hummingbird feeder so that it still serves as a viable alternative for the bees. Regularly monitor and maintain the decoy feeder, ensuring that the water is clean and fresh, to maximize its effectiveness in keeping bees and other insects away from your hummingbird feeder.
How to Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders – Conclusion
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.