Jodi from Texas
Here are my ideas for keeping bees, wasps, and other stinging insects away from your hummingbird feeders.
First, keep in mind that it's never safe to use any chemicals to control insects at birdfeeders. That's a given of course, but it needs to be stated anyway. Any flying insects (yes, even the wasps) that choose to feed on hummingbird nectar are likely to play an important role in pollination. In the case of bees, swarming to the feeder for nectar is usually a transient problem. This isn't always the case with other stinging insects, but bees tend to flock to feeders only when other food supplies are low (e.g. few open flowers or lack of rain).
Many people have found that applying cooking oils and sprays to the outside of the feeder ports deters bees, wasps, and other insects. Be very careful if you do this. These tiny birds expend enormous amounts of energy. They need to feed constantly and have little margin for error when it comes to making a livelihood. Oil that accidentally gets on the hummingbird while feeding or during feeder fights can spell disaster when it comes time to preen their feathers. Birds produce their own oils for preening and additional oils can cause their feathers to become matted, which reduces their ability to fly and keep warm. If you decide to use oil on your feeder, please use it with caution.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
I too have honeybees invading my feeders I don't want to kill the bees just send them packing to a different area. I am going to set up a yellow bowl on a ladder filled with a stronger sugar content solution and move the ladder as they drink. (07/17/2008)
You can buy little "traps" that go on the hummingbird feeders. The hummingbird can still eat, but the bees can't get inside it. (07/18/2008)
Just tried the spray canola oil on my hummer feeder and it worked like a charm. The bees do a "fly-by" but never land. For ants, just go to your PetsMart (near Hummer feeders and nectar) and look for a little box called "AntAway" (?). It looks like a green plastic bell with hooks on both ends. Hang it on your hook and the feeder underneath it. Lasts all season so no need to replace it and costs about $7. Haven't had a problem with ants in years. (07/20/2008)
I've tried the yellow dish with super rich nectar. They still went to the feeders. Today, after reading here, I used a cotton swab and olive oil and lightly coated the yellow flowers, red flowers and the connection point between the base and the reservoir. They love to drink there. No bees. I had the great big bumbles; at least 60 swarming around all the feeders. It's worked like a charm and in seconds. Thanks.
The Pam trick worked great and it won't hurt the bees, we need them around. I put on my motorcycle gear and just went out and sprayed the feeders, there were hundreds of bees swarming the feeders at the time, they didn't even come at me to try and sting me in force, just a couple of stragglers. An hour later there are just a few bees flying around, they try and land but just leave.
By John B
I have tried everything re: bees on previous posts. Nothing helps, Canola or Pam. From my research, I determined that Canola is actually dangerous to animals. I can make "bee bombs" and they work, but I don't want to kill honeybees, which have been in decline.
For ants, using 6 pound monofilament fishing line, with or without ant moats improvised from plastic bottle caps, works fine. (08/01/2008)
Please "don't use oil" on your feeders. The oil will get on the birds feathers and they will not be able to remove it and it will make it very difficult for them to fly. (08/08/2008)
I have used olive oil for years on my hummingbird feeders. It works great for bees and ants. But don't spray the feeders. Instead, spray on your finger then wipe on a thin coat around feeding hole and edge anywhere bees or ants can get in. That way the oil will not coat the tiny wings of our feathered friends. (08/10/2008)
I had the bee problem. Wasp and yellow jackets were running away my birds. So I just found a clear drink bottle of plastic punched a hole on all 4 sides about 4 inches from the bottom of the bottle. I put a little bit of the hummingbird nectar in it and replaced the top. I put a length of wire around the neck of bottle and hung it in the tree, no more problem. The wasps and yellow jackets go in, but don't get out. (08/11/2008)
Here's a picture before I used Vaseline. Works great. Just dab each flower hole and wipe leaving a light film on it. (08/16/2008)
Please learn how to tell a honey bee from a wasp. Our honey bees are essential to a healthy natural world and are threatened. Screens work for both bees and wasps and are harmless, but must be checked. (08/19/2008)
I am not sure how to keep the bees away. But I do know that if you have an ant problem invading the bird feeders try taking a little bit of dish soap and put it around the hook that the feeder hangs on, but "do not" get it on the feeder itself. Just rub some on the hook and around the area where the hook is placed and this will get rid of the ants. (09/29/2008)
Bees can be a big problem in some parts of the country. Please do "not" use any type of oil, because if the hummingbirds brush against it the oil will get on their feathers and can cause health issues. You must start with a feeder that is specifically designed and advertised to be bee-proof. Then take care when making nectar to not make it too sweet.
For hummingbirds a 4-1 ratio is good, too sweet will attract more bees than birds. Then after hanging clean off drips or spills, I like to spray them off with water from a spray bottle. Any little drip or spill will attract some bees. That should do it, but if not, hang another feeder nearby (not too close) containing a much sweeter mixture and the bees will move to that feeder leaving yours to the birds. For more information check out our website at "The Hummingbird Store".
Enjoy the Flying Jewels! (01/08/2009)
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