Install bee guards
Unless you want to spend your time swatting and blowing at the bees, a bee guard is your best option to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders.
The bee guards are meant to fit over glass or other wide-opening hummingbird feeders. Using a bee guard is also an option to prevent bees from building a hive inside the feeder.
The biggest advantage of using a bee guard over other remedies is that the feeder is not at all affected by the presence of bee guards.
Other remedies to prevent bees from building a nest in a hummingbird feeder include:
- using a syrup feeder with an anti-coagulant-free mixture, where bees are unable to get a grip on to the glass
- using a removable anti-coagulant on the feeder,
Removing the feeder for a few days once a week to deter the bees.
These other remedies may affect the birds. Bee guards avoid that problem.
Use red saucer feeders
Some bee-proof feeders have special characteristics that the bees are trained to recognize. These feeders have red or yellow feeder bodies that appear visually similar to an Italian Meatball. The bees are trained to stay away from any feeder that is red or yellow, and they are even trained to stay away from a red-orange feeder with yellow band.
Unfortunately, many bee-proof feeders look just like any other hummingbird feeder, and they would not be identified as bee-proof just by looking at them.
That is why if you want to offer the bees a place to play, that doesn’t train them to stay away from your hummingbird feeders, then you should not use a red or yellow feeder.
Relocate the feeder often
Unlike delicately perched hummers, bee visits are all about momentum. Bees rely on continuous thrust and a dedicated line of flight to get from one drink to the next, so if there is a perceptible delay in a bee’s established flight pattern, she’ll back out.
Angle the feeder away from the sun, and away from the prevailing breezes. Bees usually fly in a direct line from where they are to where they want to be, and once they sense that the feeder is up against something that is going to make their route awkward, they’re going to weigh anchor and select a new place to party.
Make Your Feeder Smaller
It’s a simple matter of physics that the greater the surface area, the windier it’s going to be around it. Smaller feeder = smaller wind vortex = fewer bees. In fact, you’ve probably noticed that bees are often attracted to home-made feeders that have holes that are too big for hummingbird tongue length. Slightly, slightly, slightly trim the diameter of the feeding ports, and the bees will probably go away.
Send your friends in!
Use decoy feeders
The main objective of making a decoy is to lure a bee away from your main hummingbird feeder. The best ones are the ones that are different in color and shape.
You can make your own using a plastic bottle and make it in various colors. The water in the bottle should be very bright. To increase effectiveness, add food-grade dye to it.
The reason a simple plastic bottle works so well is because bees can’t tell the difference between the dyed water and the nectar.
Hang the decoy at least 2-3 feet away from the feeder. If you have two feeders, hang the second one a little farther away to increase the distance.
As a general rule, you should remove the decoy during the winter when the hummingbirds are not around.
This will let the bees have your garden back.
Find and stop the leakage
Bees and wasps can become a nuisance near the feeder by constructing their nests in nearby brush. Nests are hard to find since they are built in hidden, protected places such as tree limbs or wall cavities.
They also use mud daubers for nest construction, which are solitary wasps that construct nests of mud that are up to two or three inches in diameter. Mud daubers are a distinctive grayish black with red on the body and have a very long thin waist. They are related to yellow jackets and have a painful sting.
If you do locate a nest, it can be removed using a vacuum cleaner to suck up the mud. Insecticide sprays can also be used for eliminating nests. If a nest is not located or accessible, it is necessary to keep an eye on the feeder and replace the suet often.
Another way to keep bees and wasps away from feeders is to keep them from flying your way in the first place. If you have a patio or deck near the feeder, place the feeder on it. The odds are better that the bees won’t be able to approach the feeder from the air if a physical barrier like patio or deck is in the way.
Make the nectar less sweet
One of the most common methods for keeping bees away is to use a mixture of equal parts of water and white vinegar and topping the mixture with plain water to bring it to one-part sweet nectar.
Bees are attracted to the sweetness of nectar, so by making the nectar less sweet, it reduces the bee’s interest in it.
The plain water dilutes the vinegar and removes any fumes that would be off-putting to the birds. Without the sugar, the nectar mixture is less attractive to the bees and they will leave the hummingbird feeder alone.
Avoid anything yellow
The color yellow is a universal warning sign for insects so avoid coloring the flowers yellow when attracting bees. Yellow flowers like coreopsis and or Dianthus will have some appeal for bees for nectar but are not likely to have bees as frequent visitors.
In the vegetable garden, yellow flowers like dill, caraway, and fennel are not as fragrant as other flowers like rosemary or sage, but fewer bees will bother them.
Grow a pollinator garden
One of the ways to gradually entice hummingbirds is by establishing a pollinator garden around the bird feeder (bypassing the flowers). This is because some hummingbirds get their nutrients from nectar in flowers.
Not only do flowers such as fuchsias attract hummingbirds, but they also provide the necessary food for these pollinators. A garden that contains flowers with juicier nectar will attract more hummingbirds that will feed off the nectar. It will also give hummingbirds somewhere they can perch and roost.
Hummers don’t like to share their food with bees. So the best way to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders is by growing a garden of plants that attract hummingbirds to your garden.
Plant flowers rich in nectar, nectar sources can be angiosperm or gymnosperm nectar sources. For angiosperm sources, you can use cotton plants, hibiscus, zinnias, and roses. The nectar from zinnias and roses can have a rich concentration of nectar.
Clean the feeder on a daily basis
It is recommended that you clean the feeder once a day, preferably after every use. Make sure to rinse it well and replace all the sugar/water solution. Clean the feeding ports on the inside of the feeder each time as well.
The best way to keep bees away from a hummingbird feeder is to make the flowers unhealthy for bees.
If you are using food coloring, add it to the water for your hummingbird feeder. This will create a purple tint for the water in the feeder and keep away bees that are attracted to the color. The hummingbirds will still like it because it makes it easier for them to see the feeder.
Try a shaded location
Bees find hummingbird feeders easier to attack under direct sunlight. Consider setting up the feeder in an area that offers some shade.
The convenience of all-season use is what makes hummingbird feeders so incredibly popular. But that also allows your feeder to be exposed to many different perspectives and breezes.
Because bee attacks and hummingbird feeders often overlap seasonal times and locations, finding a shaded spot to hang your feeder is a great way to deter bees.
In addition, you can also hang your hummingbird feeder from a pole that moves in the wind. This is a great way to keep the bees away because the movement will keep them from zeroing in on the feeder.
Add fake wasps’ nests
Wasps need to have multiple holes for their nest in a way the bees do not so you can also be creative in the matter.
These fake beehives can be made easily by using empty paper rolls, paper plates and tubes. You can mix dry sand and water together and shape it into a small beehive and fill the holes with honey. Wasp larvae are a great substitute for the honey.
Keep this beehive in the bee’s habitat and the bees would think twice before they come near the hummingbird feeders. Since wasp nests attract wasps by their mere presence, the bees would stay away from there as well.
Consider insect traps
Consider placing insect traps such as a Octenol dispenser near hummingbird feeders to reduce insect activity. Insects are drawn to the Octenol and will fly towards it. When they are caught in the sticky substance, they cannot fly away and die.
Certain species of bees are attracted to the carbon dioxide which is emitted when the birds are feeding. The bees are more active during the hottest part of the day, which coincide with the time when birds are feeding.
You can reduce the amount of bees that are attracted by using a feeder with a bee guard.
Birds that visit your hummingbird feeder may catch and eat bees that are drinking from your feeder. If the birds don’t get the chance to catch the bees, they will continue to be attracted to your feeder.