How to Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders (9 Simple Tips )

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Bees love hummingbird nectar, it’s no secret. If they start showing up in swarms it can become a problem quickly. Luckily you have some options, but if you want them to move along then you need to know how to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders. In this article I am going to go over several of these options in detail as well as answer some other common questions you may have.

Do hummingbird feeders attract bees?

The short answer is yes. Bees are attracted to the nectar that we put out for our hummingbirds. However, there are things you can do to deter the bees from the feeders such as as providing them with better options.

We encourage you to try out several of these tips and tricks and see what works best for you. Having said that, there are a few things that you should definitely not do as it could be harmful to the hummingbirds. 

You should never:

  • use any type of cooking oil or petroleum gel around the feeder – it can damage their feathers
  • do not use any pesticides –  it can make your hummers sick or kill them

What kind of bees are attracted to hummingbird feeders? 

Several types of bees and flying insects can be attracted to the sweet nectar that we prepare for these micro birds that we like to feed so much.  A few of them are:

  • bees
  • wasps
  • yellow jackets

Do hummingbirds eat bees?

Hummingbirds will eat some insects as part of their diet. They commonly eat flies, beetles, gnats, and mosquitoes to name a few. Some other insects they may feed on are found deep within the flowers or they might use their acute vision to locate small bugs on tree bark.

Bees are not normally in the diet of a hummingbird. There may be instances where this has happened but generally bees are a larger insect than a hummingbird is comfortable eating. 

Check out this article with hummingbird facts, myths, and FAQ

How to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders – 9 simple tips

1. Eliminate nests

bees

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  • Look for holes in the wood of your deck (carpenter bees)
  • look for wasp nests and spray them using long distance wasp and hornet spray
  • regular honey bees might build a hive in a hollow tree, the walls of an old building, or even in the ground. If you discover one on your property it is best to leave it to an expert and call a beekeeper or a pest control expert.

2. Give the bees other food sources

bees on a flower

Most bees will leave the hummingbird feeders alone as long as they have another, more accessible food source. Here are a few options to consider:

  • a bowl with sugar water in it and a small rock in the middle for the bees to climb on
  • plant flowers that will attract the bees away from the hummingbird feeders such as lilacs, lavender, sunflowers, goldenrod, crocus, roses, and snapdragons to name a few. 
hummingbird feeder with yellow bee guards
note the yellow bee guards

3. Get a bee proof hummingbird feeder

Hummingbird feeders are generally pretty inexpensive on Amazon and you will find many options to choose from for bee proof hummingbird feeders. Some feeders will have little yellow flowers on them where the bees are supposed to not be able to pass through. Why yellow I’m not sure, sure bees are attracted to yellow but why attract them to the feeders at all?

Anyways, here are a few bee proof hummingbird feeder options for you to look at that can be found on Amazon right now. 

hummingbird feeder

4. Make sure your feeder doesn’t drip nectar

Make sure your feeder does not drip nectar so you don’t give these unwanted pests more of an invitation to come feast. Any good feeder should be drip proof, however some are better than others. These from First Nature are excellent, inexpensive hummingbird feeders and do not leak. 

5. Periodically move the feeders

This can be a useful tactic in confusing the bees. If you are just moving it a few feet then they are going to find it again quickly. However if you move it from one side of the house to the other for a few days, then again in a few days you may confuse the bees.

The drawback here is you could confuse the hummingbirds as well. In the end if you are just moving it around in your yard, anything that is looking for it will find the nectar. Unless you have an unusually large yard!

This is just a tactic that might prove a bit confusing to bees. In my opinion it is a lot of work to constantly be moving and rehanging feeders, especially if you aren’t getting good results. Try it out if you have exhausted other options and see, it can’t hurt.

6. Always choose red feeders, bees are attracted to yellow

feeder with yellow on it
the yellow flowers will actually attract bees

I guess due to the color of flowers and other food sources where bees find pollen and nectar, they are naturally attracted to the color yellow. Take that into consideration before you decide to buy a hummingbird feeder that is yellow or has yellow on it.

Most hummingbird feeders are red so normally this isn’t a problem, however many people report that the bee-guards themselves on the feeders are yellow.  I’m not sure what the reasoning behind this is, but you may want to look into painting this bee-guard red using a non-toxic paint. Many people have reported successful results using this method. 

7. Keep your feeders in the shade

Both hummingbirds and bees will feed from your feeders wherever they are located as long as they are accessible. However bees are used to foraging for pollen and nectar in the sun because that’s where most flowers bloom.

It is also important to keep your feeders in the shade to prevent the nectar from spoiling too quickly. So while this isn’t a surefire way to prevent bees from swarming your hummingbird feeders, you should still keep your feeders in the shade.

8. Put out bee repellents and other alternative methods

mint leaves
mint leaves
  • people have been successful rubbing peppermint extract around the feeding ports
  • Herbal Bee Repellents: combination of lemongrass, peppermint oil, and citronella or tea tree oil and Benzaldehyde
  • Natural bee Repellents: Citrus, Mint and Eucalyptus oils.

9. Keep your hummingbird feeder clean!

How to know if your feeder needs to be cleaned

Generally if the nectar looks dirty or cloudy it needs to be dumped and refilled with fresh nectar. Also look for dead bugs/floating insects, this is an indication that it needs to be refreshed.  Check out our article on how often to clean hummingbird feeders.

How do I clean my hummingbird feeder?

dead bees in hummingbird feeder
dead bees means time to clean your feeder and give it fresh nectar

In a nutshell, these are the steps you need to take in order to clean out your feeder before refilling it with fresh nectar.

  • dump out old nectar
  • disassemble your feeder
  • scrub each piece using dish soap, then a water and bleach or vinegar solution…you can find out more here
  • be sure to clean out feeding ports with a pipe cleaner if you have one
  • soak and rinse completely with hot or warm water to remove any chemicals you may have used
  • allow the pieces to dry completely
  • reassemble your feeder and refill with fresh nectar

How do I clean my bee guards on my hummingbird feeder?

This is done the same way as I mentioned above when cleaning the whole feeder. Most bee guards can just be removed when you are disassembling the whole feeder. Clean them individually with a scrub brush or pipe cleaner to get into the little holes. Soak them in your cleaning solution whether it be just dish soap or a mixture of water and vinegar or bleach. 

Rinse them off and allow them to dry with the rest of the pieces. Reassemble your feeder and you are ready to refill it! 

If they get too filthy or damaged I know some feeders like the Perky Pet I linked to above sells replacement bee guards.

Conclusion

Knowing how to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders can save you and the hummingbirds a lot of frustration. Once bees really take over a feeder, it can be difficult to get them off and restore peace to the hummingbird feeder. However by using these 9 tips you should be able to make the bees go away and get the hummingbirds to come back. 

About Jesse

Jesse enjoys bird watching and feeding birds in his backyard, learning about the different species, and sharing his knowledge and experiences.

5 thoughts on “How to Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders (9 Simple Tips )”

  1. Im having trouble with BEES,,,this year,,,,,on and near hummingbird feeder,,,, I have a ant molt attached,,,cleaned my hummingbird feeder,,,, have bee guards in,,,,,yet the bees come and no hummingbirds,,,,,,birds r afraid of the bees,,,,,,,its a beef proof hummingbird feeder,,,,I never had this problem, until this year,,,,,, no bee nests around,,,,,I attached a yellow jacket trap at least 20 feet away, still no good,,,,,I do not know know what e;else to do,,,,I clean my feeder everyday,,,,,,,I moved my feeder several times already and still here comes the bees,,,,,any clues??????

    Reply
    • Hey Cindy, sorry you are having trouble with the bees! They can certainly bee (hehe) frustrating. Seriously though, we know it’s a pain when you are trying to feed one thing and an uninvited guest comes and scares them away and takes the food. Just be sure to follow the steps here and it looks like you have, sometimes they are just more persistent. Is there a large bee nest nearby that could be removed perhaps?

      Reply
    • Hi, I was having the same problem. Yellow jackets constantly coming to my feeder. I tried this and that and some things would last a day or two but then they were back. So I heard about the bug-a-salt shooter (fires table salt). Looks like it would work. Then saw it was $45. I didn’t want to spend that. So I got an old pump BB-gun from a flee market for $5. Left the BB’s out of it. Pumped it up 9 times. Cocked it (and made sure a B.B. didn’t accidentally load each time). And then added a pinch of salt down the barrel. I was amazed from the first shot. In one day I solved my bee issue. I then cleaned and changed the liquid in my feeder. But I have not had one yellow jacket come back yet. And if they do. I now know how to deal with them.

      Reply
    • I mix 8 drops of Lemongrass oil & 1 drop dish soap with 1 cup water put in spray bottle and sprayed feeder, it works. I spray once or twice a day.

      Reply

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