- How to Keep Insects Away from Hummingbird Feeders
- What Insects Love Hummingbird Feeders?
- What You Can Do About Insects at Hummingbird Feeders
- Insects On Hummer Feeders: What To Do For Hummingbird Pests
- About Hummingbird Feeder Pests
- Protecting Hummingbirds from Predators
- 2 Reasons Why Bees Are Taking Over Your Hummingbird Feeder
- How to Keep Bees Out of Hummingbird Feeders (8 Ways)
- 3 Ways to Keep Other Insects Away From Hummingbird Feeders
- 2 Things You Shouldn’t Do to Keep Bees Out of Your Hummingbird Feeders
- Final word
- 5 Easy Ways for Keeping Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders
- Yes, You Can Keep Honey Bees Away from Hummingbird Feeders
- The Secret to Keeping Bees Away from Hummingbird Feeders
- Why Are Bees Taking Over My Hummingbird Feeder?
- Tips to Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders
- Bees On Hummingbird Feeders – Some Years Are Worse
How to Keep Insects Away from Hummingbird Feeders
Hummingbirds love the delicious sweetness of nectar. Unfortunately, so do insects like ants, wasps and bees. But thanks to a few products and various tactics, you can ensure your hummingbird feeders are free from annoying and potentially harmful insects.
What Insects Love Hummingbird Feeders?
According to estimates, there are about a quadrillion ants on earth at any given time, so it’s no surprise that ants will find their way to your hummingbird feeder. When ants stumble upon something sweet, like the nectar at your hummingbird feeders, they’ll leave an invisible trail for other ants to find. In just a short time, you could have hundreds of ants marching straight toward your feeders.
Flying insects like yellow jackets, bees and wasps can also be a major problem. It might not seem like a big deal to have a few yellow jackets coming around your hummingbird feeders, but they can be aggressive toward hummingbirds and even attack. Leaving bees unchecked can also lead to swarms, which will scare off your hummingbirds.
What You Can Do About Insects at Hummingbird Feeders
Buy a dripless feeder
If you want to keep bugs away, don’t give them a chance to get a waft of the sweet nectar. A dripless feeder requires a hummingbird’s long and slender tongue to retrieve the nectar and it also prevents the smell from getting into the air.
Add an ant moat
When ants are making a beeline for your feeder, not much will stop them—except for an ant moat. Ant moats are surprisingly simple creations that attach to the top of your hummingbird feeder and prevent ants from coming down onto it by creating a small water moat that ants can’t cross. This is by far one of the simplest and most effective ways to stop ants.
Get a feeder with bee guards
Bee guards are contraptions found on some feeders, like the Perky Pet Clinched Waste Hummingbird Feeder, that block bees or flying insects from getting into the nectar but leave enough room for hummingbirds to drink. Having these on your feeders make them instantly less attractive to bees.
Move the feeders to a different location
A quick solution to swarming bees and insistent ants is to move the feeders. Insects aren’t the most logical or perceptive so even moving your hummingbird feeder several feet away will sometimes throw them off the scent.
Take the feeders down for a few days
Going a little further on the previous suggestion, you can actually just take down the feeders for a few days if the problem is too severe. Insects, particularly flying insects, will typically return to the same spot day after day, so just moving it a few feet over might not always work. To really throw them off the scent and stop them from coming back, take them down until you see that the insects aren’t coming around anymore.
Keep things tidy
Similar to how you avoid unwanted pests and critters in your kitchen, keeping your feeders clean will help keep insects away. Even if you have a dripless feeder, hummingbirds themselves may still make a mess when they’re eating, so it’s important to regularly wipe down and clean your feeders.
Avoid the color yellow
Yellow feeders may look nice, but they also look nice to flying insects. The color yellow is particularly attractive to bees, so opt for red hummingbird feeders or repaint yellow parts red.
Hang wasp traps
If wasps are the main culprits, put up wasp traps near your hummingbird feeders. These are usually small containers where you put highly concentrated sugar water to attract the wasps. Once they enter the trap, they’re unable to get out.
Don’t use any insecticides or oils
Although insecticides and oils are often cited as ways to keep insects away, they are very harmful to birds. Spraying anything that kills insects or repels them usually has the same effect on hummingbirds. By following the previous tips, you can get rid of insects without resorting to these methods.
Nectar feeders are an excellent way to attract hungry hummingbirds to your yard. After all, these perky flitters eat constantly, and their dietary needs are pretty basic. With a bit of white sugar mixed with water, you can sustain your local Ruby-throateds and Anna’s, while brightening up your garden or patio with their vivid plumage.
But hummingbirds aren’t the only animals that like it sweet: Bears, insects, and other birds often co-opt nectar feeders for their own gain. Some intruders, like chickadees and orioles, are a bonus for birders. But attracting bears to your neighborhood can put both you and the four-legged interlopers in danger, and excess insects can be a nuisance for any homeowner.
Here’s how to keep surprise guests away.
Ursids are mostly attracted to generic feeders stocked with pungent foods like suet or sunflower seeds. But when bears come across hummingbird feeders, the omnivories will knock them down and snack on the sugar water.
Once a bear finds your free food, it will return time and time again, says Geoff LeBaron, coordinator of Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. Mamas will pass the knowledge on to their cubs, leading generations to visit the well-stocked pantry in your yard.
Hungry bears won’t hurt birds, but coming in close proximity to humans is dangerous for both their families and yours. Attacks are rare, but if you surprise a bear—especially when cubs are around—it can become violent.
If bears are frequenting your feeders, take the equipment down and move it inside. When the trespassers stop coming around, try putting the nectar out again . . . but bring them back in if the bears start coming back.
Be sure to clean up your yard, as stinky garbage can attract the lumbering animals. Hanging feeders out of reach can also deter bears, though finding a suitable spot is tricky since both black and grizzlies can climb trees.
Honey bees might swarm at a hummingbird feeder when flower availability is low. Photo: Stuart Rankin/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Ants and bees pose the biggest problems with nectar feeders. Like bears, they don’t harm the hummingbirds—but ants can crawl into the sugar-water wells and clog them up. And bees, while useful pollinators, can obstruct your view of the birds and deliver painful stings.
The easiest way to parry these pests is to keep your feeders tidy, says Tina Hall, the director of Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Arizona. If the structures are whipped around by the wind or not assembled securely, they can drip nectar, giving insects easy access to the goods.
To stop leakage, hang the devices in a less-than-breezy area and stow them away in rough conditions. Mop up spills with a sponge and hot water at least once a week, and check that the parts are tightened. While you’re at it, dump the old nectar and refill with a fresh, room-temperature mixture to keep the food pure and healthy. In warm weather, change the filler twice per week.
Some hummingbird feeders are equipped with moats to drown ants that climb down onto them. If your feeders don’t have this feature, you can buy attachable ant guards that trap the invaders.
Bee guards are less deadly, shielding the nectar reservoir from the insects. But if the feeder is covered in sugar water, barring bees from the drinking hole won’t do much good—so the guards aren’t a substitute for consistent cleaning. If you’re still having infestation issues, avoid feeders with yellow decor, as bees are attracted to the sunny color.
For a healthier environment, try to maintain an insecticide-free yard. They might seem like an easy fix, but pesticides can injure, kill, and reduce population numbers of birds, bees, and other animals.
Hummingbirds probably won’t stop at your feeders when larger birds are there, but upping the avian diversity in your yard doesn’t hurt them, either. Depending on your location, you could see everything from Verdins to Ladder-backed Woodpeckers at your nectar wells. Pretty much anything with a sweet tooth that can fit its beak into the spigots is fair game.
There aren’t reliable methods to keep non-target species away from your sugar water, so the best course of action is to embrace them. After all, what’s the harm in seeing more birds?
Having trouble identifying your hummingbirds? to tell your Anna’s from your Allen’s.
Insects On Hummer Feeders: What To Do For Hummingbird Pests
Hummingbirds are a gardener’s delight, as these brightly colored, tiny birds zip across the backyard in search of the nectar they require to keep moving. Many aid the little birds by hanging out feeders filled with sugar-water. But insects on hummer feeders can compete with the beautiful birds for this treat, and there are predators out there that see the hummers as lunch. For information about keeping pests out of hummingbird feeders, read on.
About Hummingbird Feeder Pests
Many gardeners view hummingbirds as very desirable guests in the backyard. Their bright colors are beautiful and it is a pleasure to watch the little creatures darting from flower to flower. One way of encouraging hummers to visit the garden is to hang out hummingbird feeders. Experts recommend that you use clear feeders with multiple feeding stations.
Hummingbirds are partial to red flowers, so pick a feeder with red trim. But don’t use red dye in the sugar/water mix. Just use a 1:4 ratio, or 1:3 in winter. This sugary substance provides quick energy for hummingbirds but it may also lead to insects on hummer feeders.
Hummers are not the only backyard creatures that are hungry and like sugar. Ants, wasps, bees and other insects can fall within that category too, so don’t be surprised if insects become hummingbird feeder pests. Insects on hummer feeders usually do not harm the tiny birds, but they can interfere with the hummingbird’s use of the feeder openings. You may want to start keeping pests out of hummingbird feeders. But what to do for hummingbird pests?
Do not use pesticides to combat insects on hummer feeders. It may be tempting if you see a line of ants, for example, “sharing” the sugar water with the birds, but birds also get protein from eating insects. Instead, put petroleum jelly around the openings and on the wire suspending the feeder.
If bees become hummingbird feeder pests, you can find “bee guards” at garden stores. They are perforated plastic caps that fit over the feeding tubes and act like grates. The hummers’ beaks can get into the grate but bee parts are too short.
Protecting Hummingbirds from Predators
Some reptiles, animals and even large insects view hummingbirds as prey, and you should do your best to protect them. Outdoor cats can be the worst offenders.
To protect against cats, position the feeders where the birds can land without danger. Don’t attach it to a tree limb or the eves of a house. Belling cats can help too.
Snakes can and do view hummingbirds as meals. So do praying mantis. Watch for them and shoo them off the feeder when you see them. And remember, positioning the feeder can be critical. Hummers are fast-moving and can recognize danger if you place the feeder where an approaching bird has a clear view.
This is a real conundrum for nature lovers. On one hand, you have beautiful energetic creature, capable of humming with its wings.
If the avian world was the Wild West, hummers would be the fastest shooters in the land.
On the other hand, you have a hardworking six-legged lady who goes out selflessly for the greater good of the hive. She needs our help now more than ever.
With your heart set on rewarding hummers for the show the put up outside the kitchen window, you want to keep the spoils for your feathered friends.
Yet, you have needy and uninvited honey bees or wasps that show up every day. What’s a hummer lover to do?
Let’s now take a closer look at how to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders.
2 Reasons Why Bees Are Taking Over Your Hummingbird Feeder
Let’s get something out of the way. Not all insects adorned in a yellow and black striped suit are bees.
They get lumped together often and it’s easy to make the mistake. You will have wasps such as yellow jackets who are very interested in the contents of your hummingbird feeder.
Wasps can get aggressive and are partly responsible for the nasty reputation bees have because they are black and yellow.
This distinction is important because the rest of this article is going to be geared toward the coexistence of the two creatures rather than the elimination of one.
1. Lack of Nectar
One reason you may be getting unwanted visitors is the lack of nectar in the area. Spring comes with numerous food sources in the form of flowers.
The season truly transforms the landscape as I’m sure you’ve witnessed over the years.
However, in the heat of summer, many of these flowers, having completed their primary purpose move on to the next phase, seed production.
When that happens, there’s no nectar for bees and other sweet loving creatures to feast on. This is known as a nectar dearth.
Now bees do not believe in wallowing and self-pity. When the going gets tough, the tough get going straight to the next best thing, in this case, your hummingbird feeder.
2. Your Feeder is the Closest Source of Water
Honey bees in particular like very sweet substances and usually go for nectar with high sugar levels.
Beekeepers in spring may feed their colonies with syrup that mimics the sweetness of nectar.
In that case, the ratio of sugar to water is 1:1. The ratio of sugar to water for hummer syrup is 1:4.
It is, therefore, a weaker solution and may appeal more to the insects at a time of drought.
How to Keep Bees Out of Hummingbird Feeders (8 Ways)
Accessibility is key in the bee universe. As long as you can keep the bees from reaching the sweet water in the feeder, they are bound to keep away. There are eight things you could do to help out your hummers.
1. Choose a Saucer Type of Hummingbird Feeder
Feeders come in two main designs, the saucer type and the inverted bottle design.
The latter drains slowly into the feeding chamber as the nectar within is consumed.
The problem is, on a hot day, it could drain faster and leak because of the increased pressure inside the bottle.
Leaking attracts all sorts of critters, including bees. A saucer design like this one is less prone to leaks as it doesn’t depend on air pressure to dispense the nectar.
2. Keep Your Hummingbird Feeder Clean
Clean up spills, repair cracks or replace parts and clean the feeder each time you refill the feeder. The area around the feeder should also be clean.
Avoid having opened soda cans and used tins whose sweet contents are bound to attract the attention of bees and other insects.
3. Use Bee Guards
Hummers have long beaks and tongues which are ideally suited to reach nectar from the vault of the flowers.
Putting a mesh or bee guard like this one here around the feeding ports keeps the bees from passing through the holes meaning they can’t reach the nectar and they are bound to give up soon.
What’s more, they only call for reinforcements once they have access to the nectar.
So finding a few bees investigating your feeder will not lead to a whole swarm because they won’t go and tell their sisters about their failures.
4. Stay Away From Using a Yellow Hummingbird Feeder
Well, this one is a minor point because lots of people with completely red feeders have swarms of bees barricading the feeding ports and the poor hummers don’t stand a chance.
However, there are those who claim that changing the color of the feeder to something like this worked out much better, but you will find that they also used other complementary methods that helped keep the bees away from their feeders.
5. Hang the Feeder in a Shaded Area
Most of the flowers that bees prefer grow outdoors under direct sunlight. Therefore, if your feeder also happens to be in the sun, it becomes very attractive.
In addition to that, increased exposure to sunlight can speed up the fermentation process of the nectar you placed in the feeder.
Hummers don’t really need the buzz so once your solution starts to go off, they won’t want to drink from it.
You could try putting out a bowl of water where the feeder was and putting in some gravel or marbles for the bees to stand on as they take a drink. This would help to keep your bees away from the feeder.
6. Move the Feeder
A little game of ‘Where’s Waldo’ with the feeder once in a while could cause the bees to move elsewhere.
If the feeder is in one location one day, then the next it’s gone, they don’t waste too much time trying to find it so they are likely to miss it just a few yards away.
Of course, if there are no other feeding options, they might find it sooner than you think which leads to the next point.
7. Grow a Pollinator Garden
Nature would provide the best distraction. If you have an alternative floral source of nectar that the bees can’t resist, they will not bother with the feeder.
You could also you pollinator seeds like these to plant some flowers for your hummers and enjoy the beautiful hum radiating from your garden.
8. Less Sugar in the Nectar
Honey bees are quite partial to sugar, specifically sucrose.
In fact, when nectar sources are plenty, they will stay away from flowers whose nectar are a little weak on the sugar concentration like pear blossoms.
Therefore, if the sugar is what they are after, altering the sugar ration in your nectar may be just the trick to have them lose interest in your feeder.
Just an extra portion of water should do the trick. Your nectar sugar water ratio will then be 1:5 instead of the regular 1:4.
3 Ways to Keep Other Insects Away From Hummingbird Feeders
As mentioned before, your feeder can act like a “come and get it” bell and all sorts of creatures will answer that call. Some of the methods used to keep bees away from feeders will work on other insects as well, but there are a few that are target specific.
1. Use Fishing Line to Hang the Feeder to Keep Ants Away
Ants can’t get a good grip on the fishing line so they won’t be able to climb down the line to the feeder.
2. Insect Traps
Hanging a trap near the feeder redirects the insects away from the hummers buffet. However, you should use these sparingly because the insects you trap are a vital part of the ecosystem so you want to minimize those that you eliminate from your garden.
3. Put Up an Artificial Wasp Nest to Keep Wasps Away
Wasps are very territorial. The presence of a fake wasp nest nearby would deter other wasps from accessing food sources around the nest.
2 Things You Shouldn’t Do to Keep Bees Out of Your Hummingbird Feeders
You can keep bees out of your hummingbird feeder without killing them using the methods above. Therefore, I highly advise against using the following methods to remedy your feeder situation as they can negatively affect the bees.
1. Spray Insecticide on the Feeder
An insecticide is simply a dose of poison that kills insects. Using poison around the feeder increases the chances that some of it will get to the nectar within, ultimately poisoning the very bird you’re going out of your way to help.
Furthermore, the insects are important to the ecosystem so where possible your aim is to do as little harm to the populations as possible.
2. Smear Oily Substances on the Feeder and Line
If you’ve watched a hummingbird dart from one flower to another, you know how quickly they go about their business.
It’s easy for the birds to brush up against objects as they go about their business.
Now, for a creation that depends so much on flight, oily feathers can be disastrous.
Once again, although this measure would work to keep some insects away, the potential to harm the bird is too high for it to be worth it.
Although you will get lots of party crashers at your feeder, you don’t need to destroy them to keep the guests of honor happy.
With a few tricks, you can ensure that your hummers always have a nectar source and other insects are likes bees and wasps are kept away with a clever rouse.
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5 Easy Ways for Keeping Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders
Yes, You Can Keep Honey Bees Away from Hummingbird Feeders
Do you find yourself feeding the hummingbirds and every other winged creature in the region? It can be frustrating. A hummingbird feeder can be a part of bee friendly gardening. You can have both birds and bees. Tips on how to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders.
If you are having problems with bees visiting your hummingbird feeders, you are not alone. This is a common problem expressed by bird-loving homeowners each year.
Perhaps you enjoy both bees and hummers. It is possible to be a bird lover and still be a bee lover. You don’t have to choose one or the other.
And, you don’t have to resort to harsh chemicals – which can harm you and the birds too!
Hummingbird Feeders Attract Bees and Wasps – Sometimes
Hummingbirds love sweet nectar. Bees love sweet nectar. See a pattern? Any nectar loving creature will be lured to your feeders – can you blame them?
The honey bees are not intentionally trying to destroy your enjoyment of hummers. They are just trying to get by and live -like everything else.
Most home owners do not have a big problem with bees at the hummingbird feeders all during the season.
They notice that bees are attracted to feeders more at certain times of the year.
We will discuss that further in a bit – why it happens and what to do.
Can We Really Control Any Wild Being?
No. We are dealing with wild creatures so let’s remember that we can’t control either the birds or the bees.
But, we can work within their natural tendencies to make the situation more enjoyable for our hummingbird friends.
The methods in this article may not keep every single bee far away from your feeders. But, they will be a big help. A couple of bees around the feeder is no big deal.
For the hummingbirds, sharing nectar with bees and wasps is normal. It is common to find a bird and some bees sharing a bush in flower.
Beekeepers Can’t Control Bees Either
Bees taking over hummingbird feeders are a special problem for those of us who are beekeepers.
This is especially true if you live in a neighborhood with hummer lover neighbors close by.
We can certainly understand the frustration of the hummer loving homeowner. But, please don’t spray our bees with deadly chemicals.
Trying to kill bees around the feeder is not a good idea. More and more will come to take their place.
This action hurts the bee colony and does not solve the problem of keeping bees away from the hummingbird feeder.
The Secret to Keeping Bees Away from Hummingbird Feeders
This may sound too simplistic but it is the truth. The best way to keep bees from taking over your hummingbird feeder is to stop it before it starts. It is much easier to prevent the problem-than fix it.
Understanding the nature of both birds and bees can help in our feeding dilemma. And yes, you may need to relocate your bird feeders – at least temporarily.
We Love Hummingbirds
We can all agree that a beautiful iridescent hummingbird flitting from flower to flower is a delight. Everyone seems to love hummingbirds.
Hummers feature a charisma that no other bird possesses. Their flight skills include the ability to hover and even fly backwards. They move so fast you may miss them if you blink.
Its a good thing they can move quickly. Some species of hummingbirds migrate 3,000 miles in one direction.
Humming birds seek out sweet nectar. Natural nectar from flowers and artificial nectar provided by us is attractive to hummingbirds. If you hang out a feeder, they will find it.
Unfortunately, they are not the only ones searching for nectar.
Hummingbird Feeder, Glass Hummingbird Feeders
We Love Honey Bees
The decline of honey bees in recent years has received a lot of media attention. Today, people have a better understanding of the importance of honey bees and other pollinators.
Honey bees are responsible for millions of dollars of value due to their pollination efforts.
They also help with pollination of vegetable gardens and fruit trees in our local neighborhoods. However, bees need nectar to survive.
Why Are Bees Taking Over My Hummingbird Feeder?
Honeybees & Hummingbirds have something in common. Both love sugary nectar as a food source. And, the honey bees (who do not migrate) have to store food for winter.
It is not unusual to see both bees and birds harvesting nectar from the same blooming plants.
In nature, the practice of sharing nectar sources works out well with plenty of flowers for all.
The difficulties start when the time of heavy bloom fades. Nectar sources are often limited during the hot dry summer.
As sure as, July will bring hot humid weather in the south, it will also bring complaints from homeowners who are trying to feed hummingbirds.
A homeowner goes out to enjoy the tiny birds and discovers a small swarm of bees.
Or, perhaps hundreds of bees and wasps trying to drink from the feeder. It can get so bad that the birds stay away.
In addition to being a nuisance, hundreds of bees can drain a full hummingbird feeder quickly.
Trying to find a way to keep honey bees off hummingbird feeders is challenging.
These foraging worker bees are not aggressive. They will not attack you – but will defend themselves if threatened.
It is much better to prevent bees and wasps from using your hummingbird feeder than it is to stop it.
Honey bees are hard workers and these hungry bees will search out any sweet source available!
Unfortunately for you, the best available nectar source may be your hummingbird feeder.
The considerate homeowner looks for a solution that will do no harm to the honey bees. And still allow the enjoyment of the birds.
What to do when Honeybees & Hummingbirds clash at your feeder ? Here are the tips that most homeowners don’t know.
Let’s look at each one and discuss why they may work for you.
What You Can Do:
- choose a hummingbird feeder with bee guards
- look for all red feeders – no yellow
- move feeder to a sunny location
- create a bee feeder during times of drought
- plant more blooming flowers for food sources
Tips to Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders
1.* Choose a hummingbird feeder that has insect resistant feeding holes.
Feeders of this type will deter honeybees, wasps, etc. *You may be able to purchase bee guards for your existing feeders.
Hummzinger Ultra Hummingbird Feeder, 12-Ounce
2.* Look for feeders that are all red (without the yellow inserts).
Red attracts hummingbirds – yellow attracts insects. Yes, bees are attracted to yellow. If you already have a feeder with yellow feed ports, paint them red using non-toxic paint.
3.* Move the hummingbird feeder to a shady location.
Hummers will seek them out but insects prefer food sources that are in a sunny location.
4.* Create a honey bee feeding station
This is especially useful for times of drought – when the bees may be suffering from lack of flower nectar.
Use a mixture of sugar water (2 cups white cane sugar dissolved in 1 cup water) in a shallow dish or pan filled with marbles, gravel or stones (so the bees wont drown).
The bees should move to the new food source as they prefer a sweeter solution.
Every day move the honeybee feeder a little farther away – in time this should get the bees focused on something different than your feeder.
5.* Create a garden that attracts bees
Choose landscape plants that pollinators like. Keep them watered during the hot summer, if possible to encourage, nectar production.
Bees On Hummingbird Feeders – Some Years Are Worse
On my bee farm, I have only had to keep honey bees away from hummingbird feeders during one summer.
During that year, upstate South Carolina was suffering a severe drought. I felt sorry for my bees and the birds.
After a few weeks, we were lucky to receive some rain showers. This additional moisture resulted in new blooms with nectar for all pollinators. And the bees left my feeders alone.
If space allows the homeowner can plant flowers that will benefit both hummers and bees-even in times of drought.
A bee friendly garden is also a friendly garden for other pollinators.
This will provide additional nectar sources and reduce competition. Remember the honey bees don’t mean any harm to you, they are just hungry.
Good luck & thank you for caring about the honey bees & hummingbirds in your neighborhood.
Each fall, people are concerned about bees and wasps competing with hummingbirds at feeders. While some hummers feed in harmony with these insects, many end up fighting hornets, honeybees, and yellow jackets. The most common are bees, wasps, and ants. Other insects such as moths and earwigs may also be attracted to nectar. A feeder with too many bugs becomes contaminated and can keep hummers away. How can you safely discourage pests from bothering feeders so that your visiting hummingbirds will get the sugar-water nectar?
Simple, Safe Tips
Use these simple, safe strategies to keep bees, wasps, and ants away from hummingbird feeders, but still welcomed, as they are valuable to your backyard ecosystem:
- Use caution: NEVER use cooking oil, menthol cough rubs, petroleum jelly or any deterrent that could get on the feathers or in the hummingbirds! This includes any part of the feeder where the feathers or bill could possibly contact the substance. Use commercial insect traps sparingly (and AWAY from the feeder) so you do not disrupt the insects’ place in your backyard ecosystem. Never use pesticide chemicals or sprays anywhere near the feeders. Pesticides are poisons! Even a small amount can be devastating to small birds.
- Keep feeders clean: Feeders that leak will attract bees and pests. Frequently clean the outside base and the feeder ports with soapy sponge and lots of rinse water.
- Choose feeders designed to discourage insects: Feeders with saucers position the nectar away from the feeding port where long-tongued hummers can reach nectar, but insects cannot.
- Move the feeder to trick insects: Once hummers find a food source, they will visit it often. Insects are only likely to visit convenient sources and probably won’t search for relocated feeders. Moving the feeder by just a few feet can decrease insect visits without discouraging the hummingbirds.
- Give insects their own feeders: Attract the insects by hanging a detour feeder in the full sunlight they prefer and use a sweeter sugar water solution. Place a very shallow bowl with strong sugar water about 5 or 6 feet away from the feeders. (You may need to begin close to the feeder and move it farther away incrementally.) This will keep the insects around to pollinate your flowers while giving them a food source besides the hummingbird feeder.
- Avoid yellow: Red attracts hummingbirds while yellow attracts wasps and bees. Avoid feeders with yellow insect guards or flower accents and your feeder will be less attractive to insects. If you have one with yellow accents, repaint with red, non-toxic paint.
- Use insect traps: Commercial insect traps and feeder accessories are available to minimize insects’ access to nectar feeders. While these can be effective deterrents, use them sparingly so you do not disrupt the insects’ places in your backyard ecosystem.
- Choose feeder locations carefully: Ants may climb a pole to reach a nectar feeder, so hang the feeder from a branch or gutter instead. Fishing line makes a good hanger; it’s hard for ants to climb such a thin line to reach the feeder. Hanging feeders in a shady spot keeps nectar cooler and slows fermentation.
- Keep the yard clean: Remove unintended food sources. The bees, wasps, and ants will be attracted to the area iif they find uncovered trash with sweet leftovers like soda cans.