How to Keep Bees and Wasps Away From Hummingbird Feeders

The best strategies for keeping bees and wasps out of hummingbird feeders. It’s an unfortunate fact of nature that birds and bees all love sweet things. If flying insects are competing with your lovely hummers for the nectar, it’s time to take action -( however humanely!)

I used to be fearful of bees – way back in my grade school days we had to watch out as there were clover patches all over the playground area and bees naturally gravitate to that area. One of my playmates got stung and had to go the nurse’s office. I was too young to ask what kinds of bees those were. But I digress a little…..

Being fearful almost cost me a job at a local plant nursery until a savvier gardener enlightened me that if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone. Wasps and yellow jackets, on the other hand, I had good reason to fear. I always dodged the red ones because they are more aggressive. You know the deal, once stung (or bitten) twice shy, right? So to this day my fear is towards wasps and yellow jackets, mainly 

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keep bees from hummer feeders

 

It’s kind of put me off putting out my hummingbird feeders as often as I’d liked as one day I was checking the amount of liquid in one of them one time and yikes – I saw what I thought was a wasp. So I always do a double-check before I yank them down.

In the spring and even a few weeks prior to it, I usually see a few bees buzzing about. It always tells me garden season is not far away. These are just garden variety bees – I don’t know who came up with that term but I like it. And they also tell me that hummingbirds season is not far away either! So, anyway, ramble over. How can hummingbirds, bees and wasps co-exist together peacefully? So if your beef is with these aerial insects rather than ants, you’ve got to employ a different strategy.

I want to stress, not to do anything to hurt the bees. They are our friends, remember? Out there all day pollinating our crops, which makes the world go around. In this post I’m sharing tips for just re-directing them to a different place.

Glad you asked, as I’ve got some ideas…

Make Use of Bee Guards

Look for a hummingbird feeder with bee guards – some out there on the market already have these equipped. Bee guards are little objects that have tips on one end that you insert into the openings on the feeder that limit flying insects’ ability to help themselves. Sometimes they are flower-shaped or something similar. You can also purchase them separately if the feeder you have doesn’t include them.

But be sure you choose a set of guards that are compatible with the model you have as they are not always interchangebale. If you can’t find something like nectar guards that will be a fit there is another diy solution you can try. You know that type of netting that fruits come in in the produce section of the supermarket? We buy lemons and limes and they come in these.

nectar guards on hummingbird feeder

Save one and stretch it over the feeder base. Your friends will be able to access the sweet nectar but the bees can’t (although they will be enticed to try.) One caveat, some people have used them and are a little disappointed, that they don’t keep wasps and yellow jackets out, plus the fact that some of them are yellow, the preferred color to flying insects. So, YMMV.

Check for Leaks

But first….make sure your feeder is not leaking. If there are any gaps try to find them and seal them up. Do you regularly clean your feeders? If not make sure you do, any signs of fermenting nectar and leaks could spell trouble. Bases are made to snap shut a certain way so check to see if they are secure.

Remove Any Traces of Yellow

Yellow is the most appealing color from a flying insect’s point of view. I have one of those traps I used to use that was designed with this greenish-yellow trim on each end. Lately I haven’t been using it – wasps have not been as numerous to the point where I worry about getting stung – plus they are a few species of them that are good to prey on garden pests, so I’ll take that as a bonus.

Sometimes the nectar guards I mentioned earlier are yellow, but there are others that are clear or white. too. If that’s the case you may want to swap out the yellow ones for white or clear.

Come Up with a Decoy Feeder

One way you can redirect bees away is by creating a feeder just for them. Make it their most preferred color, yellow, and fill with sugar water but use less sugar as bees have lower energy reserves.  Honey water is good to add, too. Some people do come up with bee and butterfly stations…so giving them their own space might be just the ticket. If you don’t already, try to plant things around that are sweet smelling and appealing to them to entice the bees. Try to make sure you hang your decoy feeder to a further location.

Have You Tried a Saucer Style Feeder Instead?

Have you seen a more inverted saucer style feeder? Instead of the bottle tipped upside down model that is so common, the saucer style is more difficult for bees and wasps to access. It is also easier to clean too. It is worth checking into, or you could make your own if you have any flat small storage containers with matching lids (Rubbermaid comes to mind, the ones made for sandwich keepers would be great, As long as it has a 2.5″ depth you should be good.)

Plants and Essential Oils That Repel Bees

Essential oils and certain herbs have been shown to be repugnant to bees. Eucalyptus is one of them. So are the mints -peppermint, spearmint. You may even want to try the leaves of catnip, too since it’s related to the mint family, try to tie them on above the feeder.

Tea tree oil is good too. I have some of this I add a little to my shampoo. Citrus…bees aren’t fond of citrus. Next time you eat an orange or grapefruit you may want to keep the peel and skewer it on to the feeder to act as a natural repellent. Be sure you clean off all the pulp – or you may attract even more pests!

Wrap-Up

So these are all the ways – natural and organic – that you can employ to keep the peace between the biggest competitors for nectar. Hope you try at least one first and give it a try before you move on to another. Let me know how it works, and remember, always “BEE” 🐝 kind!

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