10 Useful Ways to Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbird sharing feeder with honey bees

Keeping bees off hummingbird feeders is a common challenge for bird enthusiasts. Bees are drawn to the sweet nectar and can swarm feeders meant for hummingbirds.

The good news is that there are ways to keep everyone happy — the hummingbirds, the bees, and you. It’s all about finding the right strategies to keep bees away without harming them.

In this article, we’ll go over how to improve your feeder setup and use some natural ways to keep those bees away. So, if you’re ready to make your hummingbird feeder bee-free, let’s get started.

How to Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders

1. Use red saucer feeders without yellow accents

Hummingbird on red saucer feeder

Picking the right feeder can make a significant difference in attracting the right visitors. Opt for red feeders without yellow accents, as hummingbirds are attracted to red, while bees are more attracted to yellow.

Saucer feeders are particularly effective, as their design places the nectar in a way that’s hard for bees to access but still within reach for hummingbirds, thanks to their long tongues.

This design minimizes the attraction for bees and keeps the nectar reserved for hummingbirds. By carefully choosing a feeder that combines these features, you can create a hummingbird-friendly environment free of bees.

2. Install bee guards

Hummingbird feeder with bee guards

Installing bee guards on your hummingbird feeders is a smart move to keep bees out while letting hummingbirds in.

Bee guards are small, mesh-like screens or barriers that fit over the feeding ports of the hummingbird feeder. These guards allow the long bills of hummingbirds to access the nectar while preventing bees from entering.

They are usually easy to install and can significantly reduce bee activity around the feeder, creating a more inviting space for hummingbirds to feed undisturbed.

Pro Tip: A lot of bee guards come in yellow, a color that actually attracts bees. A simple fix is to paint these yellow guards red using non-toxic paint. This simple change can make a big difference in keeping your feeder a bee-free zone.

3. Grow a pollinator garden

Hummingbird feeding in garden with flowers

Instead of fighting the bees, offer them an alternative by planting a garden full of their favorite flowers.

By planting flowers that bees love, like sunflowers, lavender, marigolds, petunia, zinnia, beebalm, and black-eyed Susan, you can keep them busy away from your hummingbird feeders.

To make the garden even more appealing to bees, you can also try adding a small dish of sugar water or syrup near these plants.

If you’re interested in trying this strategy, you might want to check out this video:

11 MUST Grow Pollinator Garden Plants 🐝

4. Use natural repellents

Natural repellents such as vinegar, citrus, and essential oils can help keep bees away from hummingbird feeders. According to research, bees dislike the strong odors of these compounds, making them ideal for use around feeders.

Mixing one part white vinegar with one part water and spraying it around the feeder can help keep the area around your hummingbird feeders bee-free.

If vinegar isn’t your thing, try citrus. Rubbing peels of oranges, lemons, or other citrus fruits around your feeder can act as a bee deterrent due to their sensitivity to citrus scents. However, be cautious when placing citrus fruit slices near the feeder, as it might attract ants.

Essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, citronella, lavender, fennel, and tea tree oils offer another effective solution. You can dilute these oils with water and spray them around, or put a few drops on cotton balls and place them near the feeders.

Pro Tip: Hang a few dryer sheets near your feeder. The strong scent of the dryer sheets can help mask the scent of the nectar, making it less appealing to bees.

5. Adjust nectar sweetness

Hummingbird hovering near nectar feeder with bees

To keep bees away from your hummingbird feeders, try tweaking the sweetness of the nectar.

A study shows that bumblebees, which can detect slight variations in sugar concentration, prefer nectar with high sugar content, ideally between 42% and 65%.

By changing your feeder’s sugar-to-water ratio from the standard 1:4 to a less concentrated 1:5, you can still attract hummingbirds without appealing as much to bees, who seek out higher sugar levels.

I once had a persistent problem with bees and wasps around my hummingbird feeder, which led me to take this strategy a step further.

I set up a separate feeder with a sweeter nectar mix just for the bees and wasps, essentially creating a decoy feeder. I then placed this decoy feeder just a few feet away from the main hummingbird feeder.

Remarkably, this approach lured the bees and wasps away. It was such an easy fix, and it made my backyard a peaceful spot for the hummingbirds again.

6. Place fake wasp nests near feeders

Fake wasp nest to keep bees away

Putting up fake wasp nests near your hummingbird feeders is a clever trick to keep bees away. Bees and wasps don’t usually hang out together because they’re kind of like rivals.

If bees see what they think is a wasp nest, they’ll likely steer clear, thinking the area is already claimed. This method also works for wasps themselves, as they are territorial creatures that avoid invading another wasp’s space.

Just make sure to place these fake nests in spots where they’re protected from rain and look convincing.

7. Offer alternative water sources for bees

Bees drinking at the bird bath

Bees, wasps, and other insects need water just as much as they need nectar. By setting up water spots like muddy puddles or bird baths in your garden, you give these insects their own places to drink.

To make these water sources more accessible for bees, include pebbles, rocks, or corks in them. These additions allow bees to land and drink without the risk of drowning.

Place these bee-friendly water stations away from your hummingbird feeders but close enough that bees can find them easily.

This method distracts bees and keeps them busy, so they’re less likely to bother the hummingbirds at their feeders. It’s a simple, natural solution that benefits both the bees and the hummingbirds.

8. Maintain feeder cleanliness

Dirty hummingbird feeders with bees

Keeping your hummingbird feeders clean is essential in making them less attractive to bees. Bees love anything sticky and sweet, just like the sugar water you’re putting out for the hummingbirds.

When filling the feeder, be sure not to leave any sugary spills and check for any leaks.

A thorough cleaning not only prevents bees and other insects from swarming the feeder but also keeps the feeding area safe and healthy for hummingbirds.

9. Regularly change feeder locations

Hummingbirds and bees sharing the feeder

Bees tend to remember where they’ve found food and will keep coming back if the feeder stays in one spot. By changing the feeder’s location regularly, you make it harder for bees to settle into a routine.

Hummingbirds are good at finding feeders, even when they’re moved, but bees will get confused and start looking elsewhere for food.

This simple trick can reduce the number of bees swarming around the feeder, making it a more peaceful spot for hummingbirds to enjoy their meals.

However, keep in mind that this method works best in large yards as feeders must be relocated at least 10 feet in order for it to work.

10. Place feeders in a shaded area

Hummingbird feeder in a shaded area

Bees are more attracted to feeders that are in direct sunlight, as they prefer to feed in bright, sunny spots. On the other hand, hummingbirds don’t mind where their nectar comes from, whether it’s sunny or shaded.

Hanging your feeder under a tree or in another shaded spot can make it less appealing to bees. This method not only discourages bees but also keeps the nectar cooler and fresher for longer, which is better for the hummingbirds!

Why Are Bees Attracted to Hummingbird Feeders?

Bees are drawn to hummingbird feeders because they contain sweet nectar, similar to the sugary substances bees collect from flowers.

This nectar, which is essentially a mix of sugar and water, mimics the high-energy food source bees need for their survival. When feeders leak or get messy during refills, they become even more attractive to bees.

The scent of the sugar water can lure bees from a distance, leading them to the feeder in search of food.

Moreover, the color of the feeder, especially if it has yellow parts, might attract bees since they’re drawn to bright colors found in flowers.

Hence, keeping feeders clean and leak-free is crucial to avoid attracting bees and ensuring that hummingbirds can feed without competition or threat from bees.

Frequently Asked Questions

A hummingbird and bees on a feeder

Are Hummingbirds Afraid of Bees?

Despite being some of the smallest birds around, hummingbirds aren’t necessarily afraid of bees. However, they can get discouraged from visiting a feeder if it’s surrounded by a large swarm of bees.

In such cases, hummingbirds might choose to stay away rather than fight through the crowd of bees to get to the nectar.

Can Bees Harm Hummingbirds at the Feeders?

No, bees generally do not harm hummingbirds at feeders. In some cases, aggressive bees or wasps might chase off hummingbirds, but that’s the extent of the harm they cause.

The main issue is competition for nectar, as large numbers of bees can prevent hummingbirds from feeding comfortably.

Are There Any Hummingbird Feeders That Are Bee-Proof?

Yes, there are special hummingbird feeders out there that are made to keep bees away. These feeders come with bee guards or have feeding ports that only long-billed birds like hummingbirds can access.

However, it’s important to note that while these feeders can significantly reduce bee interference, no feeder is completely bee-proof under all conditions.

Will Moving My Hummingbird Feeder Deter Bees?

Yes, moving your hummingbird feeder can help deter bees. Bees and wasps usually take longer to notice the feeder has been moved compared to hummingbirds, which quickly adapt to the new location.

Just moving the feeder a little bit, around 10 to 15 feet away from its original spot, can make a big difference.

Have you tried any of these methods in your garden? Share your experiences or questions on how to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders in the comments below.

Leave a Comment

You may also like