Keeping bees away from hummingbird feeders can be pretty difficult, especially if you’re a nature enthusiast with a vested interest in both.
Hummingbirds are a sight to behold, with their wings flapping at rates unperceivable by human eyes. Bees are also adorable little insects with a vital role in the environment, but the feeders are not for them. Learn how to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders to protect the food.
The main method employed to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders is bee guards, which prevent bees from accessing the food source. You can also keep the feeder in the shade because bees prefer sunlight, change locations of the feeder regularly, dilute your sugar solution, clean the spillage around feeders, avoid the use of yellow-colored feeders, use yellow substitute feeders to draw bees away and use saucer-type feeders, which are insect-proof.
Let’s dive into the exact methods you can employ to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders.
Best Ways to Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders
The presence of bugs and insects doesn’t easily deter hummingbirds, but you will quickly find that the feeder you’ve set up may become infested by swarms of many-legged visitors that may end up contaminating the sugar water.
This can lead to hummingbirds avoiding the feeder altogether. You may find yourself getting frustrated and attempting something drastic like using insecticide to ward off the insects, but that should be avoided at all costs because it could poison the birds.
Let’s look at the main ways you can keep your hummingbird feeders free from these unwanted visitors.
- Implement a Bee Guard. Hummingbirds use their long beaks and tongues to suck nectar from flowers and, therefore, from food ports in the feeder. A bee guard makes use of a mesh, which prevents bees from getting access to the food source and deters them from trying too hard.
- Place the Feeder in the Shade. Flowers blossom in the sunlight, so placing your feeder in direct sunlight can attract bees in the vicinity. The nectar also starts to ferment in sunlight and can go bad pretty quickly, which causes the hummingbirds to lose interest.
- Keep Changing Locations. Move the feeder each day, so the bees become confused and find other food sources.
- Include a Variety of Flowers in Your Garden. If there are many nectar sources in your garden, the bees will likely stay away from the feeders.
- Dilute Your Solution. If the sugar to water ratio is weak, the bees will find another sweeter source to keep themselves occupied.
- Clean the Feeder. If there is spillage around the feeders, it will attract the attention of bees in the area. Keep the feeder clean to avoid attracting insects.
- Do Not Use Yellow Feeders. Bees are enticed by the color yellow but aren’t drawn to red. Repaint your feeder or buy a red-colored one to keep bees away.
- Use Substitute Feeders. Use a yellow-colored substitute feeder, place it in the sunlight and use a sweeter solution to keep the bees away from the hummingbirds’ food source.
- Use a Saucer Feeder. Saucer feeders are insect-proof and keep the nectar at a distance from the feeding port, which allows only hummingbirds to get through with their long beaks and tongues.
Why are Bees Drawn to Hummingbird Feeders?
The two main reasons bees approach your feeders are the lack of nectar available in the area and the availability and close proximity of sugar water in the feeders.
Bees approach feeders due to scarcity of food: As spring turns to summer, most flowers go from being plentiful and abundant to the next stage of development, seed production. This results in no nectar being produced by the plants and is called nectar dearth, which reroutes bees to the next available source of food, which can be found in the feeders.
Bees are attracted to sweet substances: Bees are mainly attracted to super-sweet concoctions. Hummingbird feeders provide a solution of water and sugar with a mixture ratio of 1:4 in favor of water, making it dilute but still appealing to bees and other insects.
Importance of Bees in the Environment
Bees are responsible for the pollination of three-fourths of the world’s plants that lead to food production. They are also relatively harmless and often confused with wasps that have a similar pattern on their thorax and abdomen.
Bees get a bad reputation from misinformation: The bad reputation comes from misinformation and peoples’ tendency to take things at face value, but nature enthusiasts know the importance of bees. Hence, they search for alternative means of deterring bees from approaching hummingbird feeders.
Ecology can be deduced: By observing bees in their natural habitat, we can deduce the ecology based on how abundant or scarce they are in a location.
Pollination produces food: Pollination aids in mass-producing foods such as vegetables and fruit and improves plants’ resilience in dealing with pests.
The amount of food mass-produced globally has increased dramatically over the past fifty years, and bees have played a major role in this development.
Types of Hummingbird Feeders
The two main types of hummingbird feeders are inverted and saucer.
The inverted feeder: It has a main body containing the nectar, which dangles above the feeding ports, leaks nectar slowly, and ensures that the feeding ports are always full and ready optimally utilized.
The saucer feeder: It is a basic design that incorporates a shallow dish containing nectar with the feeding ports situated on top of the main reservoir, allowing hummingbirds to effortlessly reach into the nectar supply.
Pros and Cons of Hummingbird Feeder Designs
Saucer feeders benefit from being somewhat insect-proof and therefore are a superior design if you wish to block access for bees.
Advantages and disadvantages of saucer feeders: They are simple to refill, clean, and put together, very easily attached to poles and railings, need frequent refilling, have smaller reservoirs for nectar, and may not be easily noticed by hummingbirds.
Advantages and disadvantages of inverted feeders: Inverted feeders are hard to clean, have a large reservoir tank, indicate nectar levels clearly, and are easily susceptible to leakage.
They also have the main flaw of attracting all kinds of insects to the food source.
Factors Involved in Choosing the Right Hummingbird Feeder
There are many factors to consider when deciding which type of feeder to opt for, such as construction material, color, capacity, feeding ports, and price.
Construction materials: The construction materials used to make hummingbird feeders are plastic, metal, and glass, and each material has its pros and cons.
Disadvantages of each material: The coloring on plastic feeders fades away quickly, but this can be remedied by repainting the structure. Glass and metal feeders are easily broken and enable nectar to ferment much faster.
Red is attractive: Hummingbirds are drawn to shades of red, and feeders usually incorporate red bases to encourage these birds to visit.
Varying capacities are available: The capacity of the feeders can vary, between one and thirty-two ounces, and choosing the right size depends on how many hummingbirds are present in your area.
Options for feeding ports: Small hummingbird feeders may only have one feeding port, but larger options incorporate up to eight feeding ports in their design.
Hummingbird feeders are pretty inexpensive, between 5 USD and 30 USD, making them easily accessible for most people.
The Bottom Line
Nature enthusiasts may find that setting up a hummingbird feeder in the garden is a good idea because it is a great way to reconnect with nature and invite the unique birds into your home.
Bees and other insects can be a nuisance if your sole aim is to attract hummingbirds, but take care not to eliminate them entirely because they play an important role in the ecosystem.