As a gardener or backyard bird feeder, it can be really frustrating having to deal with swarms of bees all over your hummingbird feeder.
Though hummingbirds are not afraid of bees, they can get really tired of fighting the insects for food and stay away.
Hummingbirds flit around a lot but a large number of bees can make them come less to the feeder than they should.
This can be really hard to deal with as a feeder but there are ways you can keep your favorite birds from bee trouble.
Today we will discuss the connection between bees and hummingbirds, and how you can keep bees away from your hummingbird feeders.
What’s The Connection Between Bees And Hummingbirds?
The major connection between hummingbirds and bees and other insects like hornets, wasps and yellow jackets is food which is nectar.
Nectar is a sugary fluid usually found within flowers produced by their glands called nectarines.
We all know bees love nectar and that is what they use in producing honey.
Hummingbirds also love nectar and many hummingbird feeders are usually loaded with nectar as the little birds love this sugary treat.
This can sometimes be a problem as the bees will always come for the hummingbird feeders once they can smell the nectar.
Having both the birds and the insects at the feeders can create a huge and chaotic buzz in your backyard and the food (water and sugar solution) can also become contaminated.
Related: Here is an article I wrote on are hummingbirds territorial
Do Bees Chase Away Hummingbirds?
The hummingbirds are birds that can handle themselves quite alright.
A single hummingbird can probably handle a few bees or wasps but it can become a problem if the hummingbird is attacked by a large group of bees.
A group of bees might not necessarily chase away the hummingbirds especially at the feeders but the hummingbirds might get tired of having to fight for their food every time and might stop coming to the feeders.
As a bird feeder, there are ways you can reduce the incidence of bees and other nasty bugs such as wasps, yellow jackets and hornets from disturbing your hummingbirds.
Are Hummingbirds Afraid Of Bees And Wasps?
Hummingbirds are not afraid of bees and wasps, however there are several reasons why a hummingbird might want to stay away from a feeder being populated by bees.
For one, bees and wasps have nasty stings which are quite painful even though the hummingbirds feathers can provide some sort of protection.
This could get messy if the ratio of the bees to the hummingbird is large.
Wasps and bees also give off a noisy buzzing sound which actually sounds scary and can scare away the birds.
Birds like to eat in quiet places and as such, all the buzz being made by the wasps can stop them from coming to that particular feeder.
If you want the hummingbirds to keep populating your feeders then it is necessary for you to make sure the feeders are protected from bees and wasps.
Do Bees Harm Hummingbirds?
Yes it is possible for bees to harm hummingbirds. Bees and their nasty cousins can give quite the sting whenever they feel threatened or aggravated.
Bees can sting both hummingbirds and humans though the birds are more protected with their feathers.
Usually the hummingbirds and insects live peacefully side by side and do not have their business clashing together.
However at some point, bees and hummingbirds have to compete for their food.
Bees and wasps are usually a nuisance for hummingbirds especially towards the end of the summer season when there is scarcity of nectar and they come to the hummingbird feeders to steal their sweet sugary food.
A single bee sting will not hurt the hummingbird and for honeybees a sting is usually fatal as it is a form of defense suicide.
For other bugs such as wasps and hornets though, they can sting a hummingbird repeatedly till it dies.
But in most cases, a bird is protected by its thick feathers and usually flies away before the bee stinger can get a hold on it.
Do Hummingbirds Eat Bees?
Hummingbirds usually rely on both nectar and insects for their nourishment.
The nectar provides their source of sugar and energy while the insects serve as a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals for the birds.
Although hummingbirds and bees most often have to fight for the same food at the feeders, hummingbirds have not been seen eating bees for sustenance.
The birds can very well chase the bees and even kill wasps and hornets, they will not eat them.
A major reason for this is that bees and wasps are much too big and usually aggressive for the hummingbird to consider eating them.
The hummingbird would prefer to eat smaller insects such as flies and gnats that are easier to catch.
How Can I Keep Bees Away From My Hummingbird Feeders?
Bees and wasps are serious contenders for nectar and the sugar solution with your favorite hummingbird.
This can stress out the bird and stop them from visiting the feeders since birds like to eat their food in peace.
There is no formula for keeping out bees from your hummingbird feeders, however there are some tips you can use to keep bees and wasps away from your hummingbird feeders. They include:
- Have a Clean Feeder
The bees and wasps are attracted to your hummingbird feeders because there are probably a lot of sugar water droppings on the feeder.
The hummingbirds drip water all over the feeder and this attracts the bees who are known for their strong sense of smell.
Wipe the feeders at least once a day to remove sugary droppings which can attract not just bees but wasps, ants and hornets.
- Choose an Insect Proof Hummingbird Feeder
There are bee proof hummingbird feeders which have been designed to keep out the bees while allowing the hummingbirds to feed in peace.
An example of a non-insect friendly feeder is the saucer type of feeder.
The saucer feeder works by positioning the nectar away from where the insects can get to it.
That is not a problem for the hummingbirds as they can easily get to the nectar with their long beaks.
Other insect guards for feeders include ant moats or bee guards.
- Use The Color Red
Bees cannot perceive the color red and most often see it as black which for them is the absence of color.
This explains why bees are not attracted to red hued flowers. You can leverage this to ensure the bees do not disturb your hummingbird feeder.
Use feeders with red color and the bees will avoid it like the plague.
Also do well to avoid yellow feeders or any other bright color as this will make the bees come straight for the feeder.
Bees are attracted to bright colors.
- Make Use of Decoy Feeders
Place a few extra feeders some distance away from the main hummingbird feeder. This is to remove the attention of the bees from the feeder spot.
You can even move the decoy feeders a little each day until they are a safe distance away from where the bees can disturb the birds.
- Don’t Place Hummingbird Feeders in Direct Sunlight
Placing the feeders in direct sunlight can make it a little hard for the birds to see the feeder as the glare can affect them.
It also makes it very easy for bees to locate the feeder as they like to forage in bright sunlight.
Placing the feeder in a shaded place or under a tree makes it harder for the bees to spot and your hummingbirds can eat in peace.
You can also explore other smart and fun ways to keep the bees from disturbing your hummingbird feeder.
What Is The Best Bee Proof Hummingbird Feeder?
The best bee proof hummingbird feeder is the dish or saucer feeder.
There are basically 2 types of hummingbird feeders which are the bottle feeder and the dish feeder.
The bottle feeder is essentially an inverted bottle affixed to a feeding port base.
Nectar is held within the bottle and only comes out in small doses when the hummingbird probes the feeder port with its beak.
The disadvantage of the bottle feeder is the fact that it can easily leak which will then attract bees and other insects to the feeder.
The dish feeder is a simple bowl-like structure with feeding ports which the hummingbirds can access with its long tongue.
The nectar is not easily accessible by insects and there are no leakage incidents thereby reducing the incidence of bee problems.
Hummingbirds and bees both love one substance. Nectar!!
This can cause frustration for both the bird and the feeder as the bees battle them for their food.
Bees do not chase hummingbirds neither are the birds afraid of bees but they would rather eat their food in peace and quiet.
As such, if the hummingbird feeder is frequented by bees there is a possibility the birds might stop coming to the feeder.
You can use the different tactics highlighted above to keep bees away from your hummingbird feeders.
The dish or saucer feeder is the best bee-proof hummingbird feeder and this will help to drastically reduce the incidence of bees at your feeders.