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Keeping Bees Away from Hummingbird Feeders: 8 Strategies for Enjoying Both Visitors

Keeping Bees Away from Hummingbird Feeders: 8 Strategies for Enjoying Both Visitors

Hummingbirds are delightful visitors to our gardens, bringing joy and beauty with their vibrant colors and graceful movements. Many bird enthusiasts enjoy attracting these tiny marvels by setting up hummingbird feeders filled with sweet nectar. However, one common challenge that arises is the presence of bees, which are also attracted to the sugary solution. While bees play a crucial role in pollination and ecosystem health, their presence around hummingbird feeders can sometimes deter hummingbirds or create competition for the nectar. In this article, we will explore various strategies and techniques to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders while still providing a welcoming environment for both bees and hummingbirds.

Understanding the Behavior of Bees and Hummingbirds:

Before delving into methods to deter bees from hummingbird feeders, it’s essential to understand the behavior and preferences of both bees and hummingbirds:

  1. Bees: Bees are attracted to sources of nectar and pollen, which they use as food sources to sustain their colonies. They are highly sensitive to the scent of flowers and the presence of sugary substances, making hummingbird feeders an attractive target for foraging bees.
  2. Hummingbirds: Hummingbirds are primarily attracted to the color red and the sweet taste of nectar, which they rely on for energy to fuel their rapid wingbeats and high metabolism. They have long, specialized beaks and tongues that allow them to feed from flowers and hummingbird feeders with ease.

8 Strategies to Keep Bees Away from Hummingbird Feeders:

While it may be challenging to completely eliminate bees from visiting hummingbird feeders, there are several strategies and techniques that can help minimize their presence and create a more inviting environment for hummingbirds:

  1. Opt for Bee-Proof Feeders: Consider using hummingbird feeders specifically designed to deter bees, such as those with bee guards or built-in bee-resistant features. These feeders typically have narrow feeding ports or barriers that prevent bees from accessing the nectar while still allowing hummingbirds to feed.
  2. Modify Feeder Design: If you already have a hummingbird feeder that attracts bees, you can try modifying the design to make it less accessible to bees. For example, you can add bee guards or attach mesh or screen material around the feeding ports to create barriers that bees cannot penetrate.
  3. Choose the Right Location: Place hummingbird feeders in strategic locations that are less likely to attract bees, such as shaded areas or away from flowers and flowering plants that bees are drawn to. Bees are more likely to visit feeders exposed to direct sunlight or located near their foraging routes.
  4. Dilute the Nectar Solution: Bees are attracted to concentrated sources of sugar, so consider diluting the nectar solution in hummingbird feeders to make it less appealing to bees. Aim for a nectar concentration of around 20-25%, as this is similar to the sugar content found in natural flower nectar.
  5. Use Natural Bee Repellents: Some natural ingredients and substances have been found to repel bees and discourage them from visiting hummingbird feeders. These include essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, and citronella, as well as spices like cinnamon and cloves. Apply these repellents sparingly around the feeder or on nearby surfaces to deter bees without harming them.
  6. Provide Alternative Food Sources: To divert bees away from hummingbird feeders, consider providing alternative food sources that are more attractive to bees, such as bee-friendly flowers, flowering plants, or sugar water stations placed away from the feeders. This can help reduce competition between bees and hummingbirds for nectar.
  7. Maintain Cleanliness: Keep hummingbird feeders clean and free of spills, leaks, and residue that can attract bees and other insects. Regularly clean and refill feeders with fresh nectar to prevent fermentation and spoilage, which can also attract bees.
  8. Monitor and Adjust: Be observant and monitor the activity around hummingbird feeders regularly to assess the effectiveness of your bee deterrent strategies. Adjust your approach as needed based on the behavior of bees and hummingbirds, and be patient as you experiment with different methods to find what works best in your specific environment.


Attracting hummingbirds to our gardens with feeders filled with sweet nectar brings joy and wonder to bird enthusiasts around the world. However, the presence of bees around hummingbird feeders can sometimes pose a challenge, creating competition for nectar and potentially deterring hummingbirds from visiting. By understanding the behavior of bees and hummingbirds and implementing strategies to minimize bee activity around feeders, we can create a welcoming environment that supports both pollinators and hummingbirds alike.

Whether it’s choosing bee-proof feeders, modifying feeder design, or providing alternative food sources, there are plenty of options available to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders while still enjoying the beauty and grace of these tiny avian visitors. With patience, observation, and a bit of creativity, we can create a harmonious balance that benefits both bees and hummingbirds in our gardens.

(FAQs) related to keeping bees away from hummingbird feeders:

  1. Why are bees attracted to hummingbird feeders? Bees are attracted to the sweet nectar in hummingbird feeders, which they perceive as a valuable food source. The sugary solution mimics the nectar found in flowers, which bees naturally forage for to sustain their colonies.
  2. Do bees harm hummingbirds or feeders? Bees typically do not harm hummingbirds or feeders directly, but their presence around feeders can create competition for nectar and potentially deter hummingbirds from feeding. Additionally, bees may become trapped in feeders or cause spills and leaks if they become overcrowded.
  3. Are there any risks associated with using bee-proof feeders? Bee-proof feeders are designed to deter bees while still allowing hummingbirds to access the nectar. However, it’s essential to ensure that the feeder’s design does not impede the hummingbirds’ ability to feed comfortably. Some bee-proof features may also require regular maintenance to ensure effectiveness.
  4. How can I tell if bees are visiting my hummingbird feeder? You can often identify bee activity around hummingbird feeders by observing the presence of bees hovering around the feeder or congregating near the feeding ports. Bees may also leave behind traces of pollen or sticky residue on the feeder’s surface.
  5. What should I do if bees are swarming around my hummingbird feeder? If bees are swarming around your hummingbird feeder, consider implementing bee deterrent strategies such as diluting the nectar solution, using natural repellents, or providing alternative food sources for bees away from the feeder. It’s essential to avoid using pesticides or harmful chemicals that could harm both bees and hummingbirds.
  6. Are there any plants or flowers that attract bees away from hummingbird feeders? Certain flowering plants and herbs, such as lavender, marigolds, and mint, are known to attract bees and other pollinators. By planting these bee-friendly flowers in your garden or yard, you can provide alternative food sources for bees and reduce their reliance on hummingbird feeders.
  7. How often should I clean and refill my hummingbird feeder to deter bees? Regular cleaning and maintenance of hummingbird feeders are essential to prevent spoilage and fermentation of the nectar, which can attract bees and other insects. Clean feeders thoroughly with warm, soapy water every few days, and refill them with fresh nectar to deter bees and ensure the health and safety of hummingbirds.
  8. Can I relocate my hummingbird feeder to discourage bee activity? Relocating hummingbird feeders to shaded areas or away from flowering plants and bee attractants may help reduce bee activity. However, it’s essential to consider the needs of hummingbirds and ensure that feeders remain accessible and visible to these tiny avian visitors.