7 Natural Ways to Keep Bees and Wasps Away From Hummingbird Feeders

Bugs be gone! Discover seven smart and easy ways to keep bees and wasps away from your hummingbird feeders, without harming these pollinators.

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Feeders filled with sugar water attract hummingbirds. But sometimes, not-so-welcome guests, including ants, wasps and bees, crawl into hummingbird feeders and create problems. For frustrated backyard birders, it may be tempting to use pesticides or insecticides to deter bugs. But Emma Greig, the project leader for Project FeederWatch of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, advises against these options because they may harm birds, as well as the bees whose populations are declining.“You can deter insects while remembering they’re part of nature, too,” says Greig. Instead, try some of these all-natural solutions to keep bees and wasps away from hummingbird feeders. The birds (and bees!) will thank you.

Check out 13 questions about hummingbird feeders answered by experts.

Hummingbird feederVia Amazon.com

1. Keep Bees and Wasps Away with Red Saucer Feeders

One way to keep bees and wasps away is with saucer hummingbird feeders. With their long tongues, hummingbirds can reach the nectar in saucer feeders—but insects can’t. Plus, while hummingbirds prefer the color red, bees are more attracted to yellow. Here’s the recipe to make your own hummingbird sugar water. Replace the sugar water every few days.

2. Attach an Ant Moat to Hummingbird Feeders

Ant moats are typically about 3 inches wide and 1 to 2 inches deep. Hang them above hummingbird sugar water feeders. Because ants can’t swim, water is an effective deterrent. You can also buy hummingbird feeders with built-in ant moats. Keep the moats clean and filled with water.

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3. Hang Hummingbird Feeders with Fishing Line

Fishing line is too thin for ants to climb, which means they won’t be able to reach your hummingbird feeders for a free meal.

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4. Slip Nectar Guard Tips over Hummingbird Feeder Holes

Nectar guard tips keep bees, wasps and yellow jackets away from hummingbird feeders, but hummingbirds can still get to the nectar. You can also get replacement yellow bee guards for glass bottle feeders.

5. Periodically Move Feeders

Just moving feeders by 3 or 4 feet will help insects lose track of them. Birds will still find them easily, but insects often won’t.

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6. Place Fake Wasp Nests Nearby

Remove all active wasp nests from the area where you want to place your feeders. Then hang the fake wasp nests in protected areas (away from rain) to deter real wasps, which are territorial and won’t typically venture into a place they think is already occupied.

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7. Plant Bee- and Hummingbird-Friendly Flowers

Give the bees an attractive alternative. Pollinators will flock to nectar-rich flowers in containers and the garden. Try colorful annuals like fuchsia and impatiens, and perennials like trumpet vine, bee balm and cardinal flower.

Next, check out 7 sweet facts about honeybees.

Sheryl DeVore
Sheryl DeVore is a science, nature, health and social issues writer, editor and educator. In addition to being an expert on wild birds, she has been studying plants, insects and other natural wonders for more than 25 years. Her byline has appeared in Birds & Blooms, the Chicago Tribune and the publications of the National Audubon Society and the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. DeVore has taught journalism classes at Northwestern University, as well as nature and bird writing classes and workshops for The Field Museum, The Nature Conservancy, the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Lake County Forest Preser.
Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing birding and gardening content. As content director of Birds & Blooms, she leads the team of editors and freelance writers sharing tried-and-true advice for nature enthusiasts who love to garden and feed birds in their backyards. Since joining Birds & Blooms 17 years ago, Kirsten has held roles in digital and print, editing direct-to-consumer books, running as many as five magazines at a time, and managing special interest publications. Kirsten has traveled to see amazing North American birds and attended various festivals, including the Sedona Hummingbird Festival, the Rio Grande Bird Festival, The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival, and the Cape May Spring Festival. She has also witnessed the epic sandhill crane migration while on a photography workshop trip to Colorado. Kirsten has participated in several GardenComm and Outdoor Writers Association of America annual conferences and is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. When she's not researching, writing, and editing all things birding and gardening, Kirsten is enjoying the outdoors with her nature-loving family. She and her husband are slowly chipping away at making their small acreage the backyard of their dreams.