14 Ways To Keep Wasps & Bees Off Your Feeders (Natural Methods)


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Hummingbird feeders can attract these beautiful birds to your yard, but hummingbirds aren’t the only creatures that feed on nectar. While butterflies don’t normally drink nectar from feeders, bees and wasps do. 

Luckily, you can keep wasps and bees off your feeders. Some methods include, but are not limited to: 

  • Using red feeders
  • Distracting bees and wasps with a pollinator garden 
  • Using saucer feeder or nectar guards 
  • Placing the feeder in a shaded spot 
  • Installing fake wasp nests 

Beyond these methods, here’s how you can keep insects at bay and save nutritious nectar for hummingbirds.

14 Ways To Keep Bees and Wasps Off Hummingbird Feeders 

1. Use Saucer Feeders 

If you want to provide hummingbirds with delicious nectar, but let other pollinators do their job in the garden, the choice of feeder is crucial.

There are various hummingbird feeder types, some of which provide easy access to hummingbirds and insects alike.

Others, such as saucer feeders, hold the nectar in a tray that can be accessed through small holes. Hummingbirds have long and thin beaks that can access the nectar through these holes. However, bees, wasps, and other insects won’t be able to get to it.

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2. Install Nectar Guards 

Nectar guards are add-ons that you can slip over the openings in a standard hummingbird feeder. They create enough space between the exterior of the feeder and the food source so that bees and wasps won’t be able to drink it. 

Meanwhile, these nectar guards have holes just big enough to allow hummingbirds to slip their thin beaks through. 

Nectar guards can keep bees and wasps off the feeders, but also prevent access to all other insects, except for hummingbird hawk-moths. 

3. Distract Insects with Plants 

Offering wasps and bees an alternative, perhaps while using a nectar guard or saucer feeder, is another way to keep pesky insects off the feeder.

The secret is planting a pollinator garden, or keeping a few pots with native flowers and plants near the feeder. 

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Not only does this trick help keep insects off the feeder, but it also increases the chances of attracting hummingbirds. Typically, wasps and bees are attracted by purple, yellow, blue, and white flowers. Hummingbirds prefer bright red, orange, and pink.

4. Install Fake Wasp Nests 

If the insects drinking from your feeders are wasps rather than bees, a way to deter them naturally is by hanging a fake wasp nest near the feeder. 

Wasps are territorial and will unlikely venture near a nest that is not their own. 

However, for this method to be successful, you must remove all existing wasp nests first. Always use protective equipment for the purpose, or hire a pest control specialist.

5. Relocate the Feeder

Frequent changes of feeder location are another worthy strategy. Typically, insects thrive on routine and are unlikely to search for the feeder if you move it. Your chances of keeping them off the feeder with this tactic increase if you provide wasps and bees with some attractive flowers in pots.

However, while this trick can work wonders, you shouldn’t move the feeder too often – too frequent location changes can confuse the hummingbirds, too, driving them away from your garden.

If you’re keeping the feeder on a balcony and have no other location for it, you could remove it for a day or two in hopes that insects will forget about it.

6. Avoid Yellow Feeders

As explained, bees and wasps like the color yellow. Thus, installing a yellow nectar pot is very likely to attract them. 

Hummingbirds aren’t too fond of the color yellow. Hence, by hanging a yellow feeder you might actually attract wasps and bees but no hummingbirds.

7. Use Shades

The actual location of the feeder is another factor that can make or break the deal as far as bees and wasps are concerned. 

Like most insects, bees and wasps like to bask in the sunlight and usually feed during full daylight hours.

Placing the feeder under a canopy, the shade of a tree, or even on a shaded spot on the porch can discourage insects from approaching the nectar. 

8. Buy A Red Feeder 

Turning back to color preferences, bees and wasps like yellow, blue, and purple. Hummingbirds prefer red, orange, and pink. Buying a red feeder can discourage the former and attract the latter.

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Sure, the color alone doesn’t always suffice. If bees and wasps can’t find enough flowers in your yard, they might drink from the feeder regardless of its color. 

To keep them away, make sure the red feeder is a saucer style or install nectar guards.

9. Look for Leaks 

No matter what method you use to keep wasps and bees at bay, leaks and drips from the hummingbird feeder can attract them.

If the feeder is not damaged (in which case you’d have to buy a new one), the most common reasons for leaks include feeder ports that are not properly aligned or a reservoir that has not been tightened properly. 

Aside from wasps and bees, leaks are also likely to attract a bunch of other insects, including ants

10. Reduce Nectar Sweetness 

Beyond color preference, a difference between insects and hummingbirds is the nectar sweetness they prefer. Wasps and bees like very sweet nectar – they typically choose the sweetest flowers in a garden. 

Hummingbirds aren’t that fussy. For this reason, dialing down the nectar sweetness can help keep hummingbirds in your yard while directing bees and wasps towards flowers rather than sugar syrup. 

To keep hummingbirds content, you should opt for a dilution of five parts water to one part sugar.

11. Deploy Decoy Feeders 

In addition to reduced nectar sweetness in your hummingbird feeder, you can add decoy feeders in the yard or balcony. 

Insect feeders usually consist of shallow dishes, although there are some feeders similar to hummingbird ones. 

When given a chance, wasps and bees will choose the easiest food source. This will keep them away from your main hummingbird feeder. For higher chances of success, fill decoy feeders with sweeter syrup.

12. Use Natural Insect Repellents 

Another easy method to keep wasps and bees off your feeder is with insect repellents. You don’t have to use any chemical product – there are plenty of scents that bees and wasps hate. 

Cinnamon is one of them. Fill a few containers with the spice and place them around the hummingbird feeder. Instead of cinnamon, you can fill the containers with water that contains a few drops of peppermint or pine essential oil.

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Cucumber peel is readily available in summer and is a potent deterrent for wasps and bees.

13. Clean Feeder Daily 

We talked about leaks, but splashes can also attract wasps and bees. As hummingbirds feed on the nectar, splashes and spills are easy to occur. 

For this reason, it is crucial to clean the feeder daily. Wipe it with a clean cloth and inspect the feeder for cracks regularly.

14. Consider Insect Traps 

If nothing seems to work, humane insect traps can help you catch and relocate pesky bees and wasps. 

There are various options you can use. Professional bee traps are shaped like hives, but the bees can’t get out once they find their way in. Just don’t keep them trapped for too long, or they could die of starvation. 

You can also build humane traps for bees and wasps out of plastic bottles. Fill them with sugar syrup to attract the insects. Glass jars with narrow openings can also trap wasps and bees successfully.


Summary 

Wasps and bees are attracted by the sugar syrup in hummingbird feeders. These insects feeding in the hummingbird feeders could deter the birds. It also prevents bees and wasps from doing their jobs as pollinators. 

Using diluted syrup, a red feeder, and installing bee guards can help solve the issue. Alternatively, you can trap and relocate the insects.

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James Goodman

James is a native Texan with a love for birding and outdoor adventures. When he's not birdwatching, you can find him hiking, camping or playing the piano.

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