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Pests---Bees and Ants

Pests

Ants and bees can become pests at your Hummingbird nectar feeders.  A little bit of prevention can easily solve the problem(s).  If you can keep them from finding the nectar source in the first place, they will not become a problem. 


Bees

Hummingbird feeders come in many configurations. Some are very good at preventing bees and some would be better called " bee feeders. However, remember that bees and wasps share and compete for nectar at flowers and feeders yet both seem to survive.

Bees, especially yellow jackets, wasps and honeybees, will mob a feeder and fight off hummingbirds who come to drink nectar.  Bees are difficult to deter with a moat because they fly.  It is best to make sure that nectar does not leak or splash-out to where they can eat it.  Tube feeders hanging down are especially the worst offenders.  Nectar is pushed out as the air trapped in top of the feeder expands and contracts with changes in the air temperature.  Bees love drips.  Other feeders might not drip in this manner, but may allow the nectar to splash out if the feeder is blown by the wind.  Several versions of Aspects hummingbird feeders prevent these problems.

Even with bee proof feeders a little extra care is needed as when hummingbirds eat they lap, not suck up the nectar. This lapping causes a small amount of nectar to end up on the surface of the feeder near the feeder ports which the bees will quickly find. When you see bees on a bee proof feeder, simply wipe the surface with a wet sponge and your bees will leave. When hanging with fresh nectar, clean off any sugary drips or spills on the outside of the feeder so bees won’t be attracted to the sugary residue.

Suggestions

  • We suggest feeders that have no yellow in them. The color yellow attracts bees & wasps. All of the feeders that we offer are free from yellow color.
  • If the pest is actually yellow jackets, a kind of wasp, you may be able to reduce the population with yellow jacket traps.
  • You may want to try moving your hummingbird feeder to a very shady location. Bees prefer to eat in sunny areas.
  • Move the hummer feeder to another location and create a distraction. Start by putting some new or used nectar in a dish on the ground below your feeder where the feeder was. The bees will be drawn to the dish, move the dish in small distances away from your feeder. Most bees will prefer this open dish on the ground rather than your hanging or mounted feeder.
  • Make the nectar less sweet and dilute.

We suggest applying a coating of mineral oil (not cooking/ edible, machine or motor oils) to any part of the feeder that allows access to the food ports. But use caution not to overdo it. Oil on hummingbird feathers can be harmful to them. Clear, plain mineral oil works better in deterring bees and wasps than any other type of oil. Apply mineral oil to food ports and other areas of the feeder where bees and wasps can access the nectar. Bees and wasps will avoid mineral oil. Other oils are not as effective.


 

Never use insect-killing chemicals around feeders! It’s bad for the birds and may also kill beneficial honey bees!

 



Bee Memory
Bees take approximately three (3) days to memorize and share the path between food source and the bee hive. By moving the feeder to a new location (not too close to its original spot), bees have a hard time finding it again. Some people even go further and say you should move your feeder every other day, so bees won't have time enough to memorize the feeder location. It's more of a temporary action than a solution.

  • Aspects feeders share the patent with another company for nectar guard tips. Nectar guard tips make the feeder totally insect proof.

Ants

Ants secrete formic acid, making the nectar smell foul. Hummers won't drink from contaminated nectar feeders.

Hummingbirds will not drink from a feeder with ants crawling on it or with dead ants floating in it.  An ant guard is a barrier that contains water which will prevent ants from finding your feeder by blocking their path as they crawl down the hanger.  Most ant guards are small water moats that surround the hanger.  Some feeders come with built-in ant guards or you can add them them separately. The best way to prevent ants at your feeder is to use an "ant guard".

 

 


We have heard of people using sticky substances such as Tanglefoot® or Vaseline® on the hanger, but we would heartily encourage against it.  Anything sticky or oily is bad for the hummers to contact. If the Hummingbird spreads sticky/ oily substances into their feathers while preening - it could affect their ability to fly. Without the ability to fly they cannot perform the tasks they need to do everyday in order to survive.  It also makes them more susceptible to predators.

I would also be concerned about it oozing down onto the feeder and contaminating the nectar.

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