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

Updated: May 20, 2024

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

how to keep bees and wasps away from hummingbird feedersCourtesy Marsha Boissy

“How do I keep bees away from my hummingbird feeder?” asks reader Darlene Clay of Myerstown,  Pennsylvania.

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 Emma. Instead, try some of these all-natural solutions to keep bees and wasps away from hummingbird feeders. The birds (and bees!) will thank you.

Get expert answers to your questions about hummingbird feeders.

Keep Bees and Wasps Away with Saucer Feeders

Hummingbird feederVia Amazon.com

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “Honeybees are attracted to sweet stuff but lack the long bills and tongues that allow hummingbirds to reach deep into feeders and narrow flowers. If you use the type of hummingbird feeder with a dish below and feeding ports on top, the bees won’t be able to reach the liquid. Be sure to clean up any sugar water that spills on the outside of the feeder.

If bees persist in swarming the feeder, you may be able to lure them away by putting out a very shallow dish of sugar water some distance away from your main bird-feeding area.”

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.

Check out more hummingbird feeders birds will love to visit.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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, nicotiana and nasturtiums, and perennials like trumpet vine, bee balm and cardinal flower.

About the Expert

Emma Greig is the project leader of Project FeederWatch, a citizen science program, for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Emma holds a Ph. D. from the University of Chicago and previously was a postdoctoral associate in Macaulay Library.

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