About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How Do I Keep Bees Off My Hummingbird Feeder?

The only sure defense against bees and wasps is to deny them access to the nectar. Before I switched all my hummingbird feeders to the trouble free WBU saucer feeders I occasionally had a bee problem too.

Originally all my hummingbird feeders were beautiful blown glass feeders. They looked wonderful in the garden but mainly fed the bees. After we opened the Wild Birds Unlimited stores I did a little more research and discovered if you swab the ports with almond or cherry extract (purchased at any grocery store baking isle), the bees will avoid the feeder. This really works but it wears off fast and you have to reapply the extract every day.

I gave up and replaced all my hummingbird feeders eventually with the fabulous problem free Wild Birds Unlimited saucer style feeders. I’ve talked about them before. Click HERE to read that article.

If you choose not to try a new feeder there are a couple other tricks to try beside my cherry extract.

  1. Use a super-concentrated sugar water mix (two parts water, one part sugar), and pour it into a shallow plate, preferably a big yellow one (bees seem to be attracted to that color). After all the sugar water is gone, the bees should be gone too.
  2. Hummingbirds.net recommends: “If you choose not to try a new feeder and wasps persist, first try moving the feeder, even just a few feet; insects are not very smart, and will assume the food source is gone forever. They may never find it in its new location, while the hummers will barely notice that it was moved. If that doesn't work, take the feeder down for a day or until you stop seeing wasps looking for it. You'll see hummers looking for it, too, but they won't give up nearly as soon as the wasps. Also, reducing the sugar concentration to 1 part sugar in 5 parts water will make it less attractive to insects, but probably won't make the hummingbirds lose interest.”

I hope that helps.


Anonymous said...

I have the WBU High perch feeder and it is great! I haven't had many problems with bees, but I have had some problems with smaller bugs (earwigs and tiny wasps) getting into the feeder and drowning in the sugar water. When I purchased the feeder I thought I read that there are accesory ports that can be put on the feeder to prevent this, but now I don't see that in the description of the feeder. Is there anything to prevent this?

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

There are nectar guards sold separately. Nectar-Guard® tips prevent bees, wasps, and other tiny flying insects from feeding at the ports. http://www.aspectsinc.com/384_NectarGuard.html