Solving the Problem of Bees and Wasps
Hummingbird feeders are the easiest way to attract hummingbirds to your yard. Bees and wasps are a common problem that many people face with their hummingbird feeders. Here are some tips that may help you solve the problem of bees and wasps and therefore be better able to enjoy the hummingbirds that you are trying so hard to attract and enjoy.
1. Buy a feeder with bee guards: Many of the hummingbird feeders available on the market today come equipped with plastic guards. "Bee guards" are a screen-like device that fits over the feeder wholes that makes it difficult for the insects to reach the feeding solution. Unfortunately, many of these hummingbird feeders will also be prone to dripping which will lessen the effectiveness of the bee guards. To help solve this problem, you can use the following suggestions:
- Always fill the feeder completely full with cool nectar. The stopper should be inserted and the feeder quickly inverted to avoid any air entering the feeder. Tube feeders operate on a vacuum principle, and the feeder must be filled completely full in order for the vacuum to form!
Only hang your feeder in shade or partial shade. The cooler the feeder, the less likely it is to drip.
Make sure to keep the feeder very clean by regularly cleaning the vessel with hot water and a bottle brush. Soap should not be used during cleaning, because its residue may cause your feeder to drip. As an alternative, try periodically using a vinegar rinse to thoroughly clean your feeder and then rinse well with hot water.
As a last resort, the stopper assembly can be placed in very hot water to soften the tube. You can bend it slightly to increase the angle. This will stop dripping, but might make it more difficult for nectar to come down the tube.
If the dripping of this type of feeder is too much for you, then try a top-feeding hummingbird feeder instead.
2. Try moving the feeder: Sometimes just moving the feeder, even just a few feet, will trick the insects into thinking that it’s gone and they won’t find it. Another suggestion is to take the feeder down for a day or two until the bees and wasp quit looking for it. Once the feeder is back up again, the hummingbirds will find it again, because the birds don’t give up looking for it as quickly as the insects do.
3. Give the insects their own feeder: Personally, I had never before heard of this prior to doing some research on the Internet, but I have since heard from many people that this is a very effective technique. This will require the use of separate hummingbird feeders, one for the bees and wasps and one for the hummingbirds. Bees and wasps are more attracted to higher concentrations of sugar, so in their feeder use a nectar ratio of 1 part sugar to 3 parts water. In the hummingbird’s feeder, use a ratio of 1 part sugar to 5 parts water. This ratio is not as sweet as the normal nectar solution that is made with a ratio of 1 to 4, but the hummingbirds will still drink it and it will be far less attractive to the bees and wasps. It will take a few hours for the bees and wasps to find their own feeder and it should be placed away from the hummingbirds own feeder.
4. Buy a saucer-type Hummingbird feeder: This type of feeder is usually made of plastic. This type of feeder is far more drip proof because the feeding ports are located in the top, so they’re not as likely to attract insects. Also, the nectar level will be lower and out of reach to the insects, but not out of reach to the hummingbirds because of their long tongues. This type feeder also does better in direct sunlight then other types of feeders.
I hope these suggestions will help you solve the frustrating problem of bees and wasp in your hummingbird feeders. If you have any other suggestions on how to solve this problem, please let us know. We want to hear from you and I’m sure anyone who has experienced these problems before would appreciate your advice. Happy hummingbird watching everyone!