How to Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders

Without Harming Them

Saucer-style feeders are less "insect-friendly" because they are conducive to long hummingbird tongues but harder for insects to access.

2. Add bee guards.

Just as the saucer lets only the long-tongued hummingbird drink, a bee guard features an air space that keeps bees from reaching the “juice,” while still allowing the hummingbirds to drink at will.

3. Red is best for feeders, but not for nectar.

If you want a wasp-proof hummingbird feeder, make sure it’s red. Red is the color that most attracts hummingbirds, while wasps (and bees) prefer yellow. There is no need to color the sugar water red.

Moving the feeder around can confuse bees, who might struggle to find it in its new spot. Insects prefer convenience and are less likely to search out the new location.

5. Look for leaks.

Make sure that the seal between the reservoir and feeding ports is properly aligned and tight to prevent leaks.

6. Divert their attention.

Plant a pollinator garden to attract bees. If they have a smorgasbord  of floral selections, they are more likely to stay away from the hummingbird feeder.

7. Dial down the sweetness.

Bees and wasps prefer a water-to-sugar ratio of 3:1 or 4:1. Changing the ratio to 5:1 in the hummingbird feeder will still attract the little birds, but it might send bees and wasps in search of other sweet sources.

8. Deploy decoy feeders.

If you can’t add lots of flowering plants, add a bee-specific feeder— or just a shallow bowl—with a higher water-to-sugar ratio to lure bees  and wasps away from the hummingbird feeder.

9. Clean hummingbird feeders frequently.

Regular cleaning of hummingbird feeders minimizes spilled nectar that attracts bees, wasps, ants, and other insects, and it reduces the chance of spoiled food that could ultimately harm the hummingbirds.

Keeping in mind the delicate nature of hummingbirds and the fact that bees are also important pollinators that really shouldn’t be killed, it’s best to avoid the use of pesticides near hummingbird feeders.