Do Hummingbirds Eat Bees And Wasps? (Explained)


Hummingbirds require vast amounts of energy and constantly feed during the day to maintain their high metabolism.

Hummingbirds visit flowering plants and hummingbird feeders containing hummingbird nectar to get their required dose of nectar. If you’re lucky, you could have many hummingbirds visiting your yard.

Nectar is also an attractant for wasps and bees because they also require the sugary liquid.

A good nectar source often attracts hummingbirds, bees, and wasps simultaneously.

The three creatures are all very competitive around the nectar. You will notice competitive interactions as they chase each other around – all fighting for space to get to the nectar.

Bees and wasps are smaller than hummingbirds, so do the hummingbirds ever see one and decide to have a quick high-protein meal? All will be revealed below.

What Do Hummingbirds Eat?

While it’s common knowledge that hummingbirds feed on nectar as their primary food source, did you know that they also feed on insects?

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In fact, hummingbirds eat invertebrates like spiders and a wide range of insects, including gnats, flies, beetles, leafhoppers, and aphids.

Hummingbirds need to eat nectar and invertebrates for different reasons. Nectar provides the vital calories of energy, while the protein, vitamin, and mineral components of their diet are gained from insects and spiders.

Now that you know that hummingbirds also feed on insects and wasps and bees are insects, it would make sense for the hummingbirds to eat them, right?

The answer is no. Hummingbirds are not known to eat bees and wasps, as it has never been witnessed before.

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Why Don’t Hummingbirds Eat Bees And Wasps?

To start with, bees and wasps would be substantial prey items for hummingbirds that are used to sucking up liquid or feeding on tiny insects.

More importantly, attempting to eat a wasp or bee could be fatal for the hummingbird.

Bees and wasps are armed with stingers that contain toxic venom, which is injected into the organism they sting.

Hummingbirds are the smallest bird family in the world, and their small size makes them incredibly susceptible to being killed by a sting.

If a hummingbird were to be stung, their small systems could become overwhelmed with venom and collapse, often resulting in death.

A bee sting may not kill a hummingbird because it can’t inject much venom. However, the hummingbird will still certainly become injured, though.

On the other hand, a sting from a wasp can be fatal to a hummingbird because it can inject more venom with each sting and sting multiple times.

Those of you that have been stung by bees and wasps know the excruciating pain that follows a sting. Now, we are far bigger than a tiny hummingbird, so can you imagine what a sting would be like for them?

If the sting doesn’t kill the hummingbird, the pain would be too great to make the risk of being stung worthwhile.

Another reason hummingbirds won’t eat bees is that their beaks are not designed for such prey.

Hummingbird beaks are usually long, straight (or slightly curved), and pointy. They are perfectly designed for probing into long, tubular flowers to suck up nectar and catch tiny insects.

That design makes it impossible for them to catch large insects such as bees and wasps with success.

The Relationship Between Hummingbirds And Bees

Bees visit flowers and feeders to collect nectar and carry it back to the hive to transform it into honey.

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Therefore, bees and hummingbirds compete for the nectar but need it for different purposes and try to stay out of each other’s way.

Bees are calm creatures that prefer to stay out of trouble because they can only sting once; if they do sting, they die.

Hummingbirds and bees often feed alongside each other with little problem. Still, they will chase each other away if either feel threatened.

One of the reasons bees and hummingbirds can stay away from each other is that the bees and hummingbirds have different body shapes and ways of collecting nectar.

Hummingbirds feed on long tubular flowers, while bees prefer to feed on flatter flowers with shorter tubes. So they may be seen in the same area, but they usually focus on different flower types.

The Relationship Between Hummingbirds And Wasps

Wasps, on the other hand, compete with hummingbirds for nectar because they need it for the same purpose – to survive.

Wasps are often very aggressive and chase hummingbirds away from a nectar source. The hummingbirds usually move away when the wasps chase them.

Unlike bees, wasps can sting multiple times without losing their stinger. So they are more of a threat to hummingbirds.

Do Hummingbirds Kill Bees And Wasps?

No evidence suggests that hummingbirds kill bees because they don’t need to. They are not a direct threat to hummingbirds.

The opposite is said about wasps. When an aggressive hummingbird meets an aggressive wasp, they will fight. There is evidence of larger hummingbirds killing wasps without being stung.

It is important to remember that the hummingbird will kill the wasp because of competition and not to have a meal.

Do Wasps Sting Hummingbirds?

When hummingbirds fight with wasps over space and nectar, they can lose the fight.

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A wasp sting can easily kill a hummingbird, and there are reports of this happening.

Are Hummingbirds Scared Of Bees?

Hummingbirds may appear to be afraid of bees, but in reality, they are not.

You will often notice hummingbirds avoiding areas filled with bees, but that is because the hummingbird cannot compete for the nectar with so many bees around.


Even though hummingbirds eat insects, and bees and wasps are insects, hummingbirds don’t eat them.

It is too risky for hummingbirds to try and eat wasps and bees because they could be stung and die.

Not only could it be fatal, but their beaks are not designed for eating such large prey.

It is possible that a hummingbird could be stung by a bee or wasp by mistake because they move too quickly. This happens because the insect sees the fast-moving hummingbird as a threat and stings in self-defense. 

Hummingbirds, bees, and wasps often coexist in many environments. If a nectar source becomes too crowded, the hummingbirds will usually move off to find a quieter place to feed.

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Tristan Silver

Tristan is a South African biologist, photographer, and birder. From a young age, he developed a passion for the outdoors, being taught basic biology and shown animals in their natural habitat. He picked up photography at age 11, and it led him into the world of birding and exploring. He has traveled throughout South Africa, documenting over 630 bird species. He is also interested in amphibians, reptiles, insects, and some plants. He uses photography to document his experiences and has had his photographs appear in African Birdlife magazine. Tristan holds an Advanced Scuba Diving qualification and has dived on many coral reefs. He completed his honours degree in Biological Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He is also a writer, expressing and sharing his emotions from his experiences through his writing, combined with photographs.

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