Bees on hummingbird feeder..Help!

July 4, 2009

Until this year I had success with coating the plastic base of my glass hummingbird feeders with cooking oil, which kept the bees,wasps,hornet, etc. off, but I have a LOT of bees on one of my feeders, so the oil isn't working. I even tried Vicks.(not getting into the holes of course) Took feeder down and brought it inside for a few days, hoping bees or hornets would move on. No luck, they returned as soon as I put it back up. Any suggestions on what to do would sure be appreciated.

Comments (28)

  • hummersteve


    Last year I had that same big problem with wasps and hornets. I also used the cooking oil, vinegar spray and such , it only worked briefly and then the theres the film on the base that is hard to get off. It all comes down to the type of feeder and the cleaning method you use. If its a feeder that leaks or drips you will have bee pests. Any of the small walmart feeders or any tube type feeders will most likely leak and drip. Also the perky pet rose petals has a tendency to drip. As an example last year I had a lot of wasp problem on my PP 209 30oz glass feeders. But this year after cleaning the outside base with soap and water and sponge makeing sure I get around the ports good and all creases and cracks making sure I get all dried nectar, I see no wasps bothering those feeders. Certain types of feeders will leak and those will draw bees and theres not much you can do about those. The other option so Im told from many on here is switch to the hummzinger.

  • lindaohnowga

    Thank you soooooo very much for taking the time to answer my question. Just emailed you.

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  • orrin_h

    How strong is the sugar solution you are using? I've read that stronger sugar concentrations attract bees. You might try using a more diluted sugar/water ratio.


  • homerpa

    Give the birds other options by using different types of feeders; i have two bottle types, the older one drips so that attracts most of the bees, the newer one is fine and used by the birds. A third feeder is a Hummzinger which rarely has a bee on it.

    By the way, has anyone else noticed this: a male wouldn't settle on a feeder because of bees, and flew away. A female came a long and moved around the feeder chasing the bees away, then settled for a sip. Before she could finish, a male came along and chased her away!

  • lindaohnowga

    The problem was a crack in the base and the sugar water was leaking. I provided a small cat food can full of sugar water for the bees. They moved over to it, and I took the feeder down. Into the trash it went. I will put up a new one in its place.

  • hummersteve

    I mentioned before that I had to take down a couple of the leaky window feeders[PP ROSE PETALS], but I left up some of the tiny one port 3oz feeders that the hummers like but I jumped the feeder mix up to 1:5 on those and 1:4 on my other feeders since I now have so many hummers. I also have a wasp trap out and in it I doubled the mix ratio from last year to 2:1 sugar to water. This trap is plastic and found it at rural king for about $5. Once they go in they cant get out.

    There several alive and dead in this trap. Where you see dark images are wasps.

  • chinamigarden

    Do not use oils on your hummingbird feeders. It only takes a small amount of oil on a Hummers wings to weight them down.

  • hummersteve

    No one wants to do any harm to the hummers but once you have a pest problem bad enough you go to extremes to try and solve the problem. Luckily I have been able to cut my wasp population way down, was it because I was able to capture a few queens early this year or because of my more thorough technique of cleaning or a combo of these. Whatever the case this year I have less of them. I have also diluted the mix on certain troublesome feeders and eliminated other feeders so its better overall for me and the hummers.

  • lindaohnowga

    Our little hummers wings come nowhere near the lightly oiled base. Most hover, with just their beaks in the holes, a few will sit on the perch but still their little wings would not be in contact with any oil. I had read that the oil would not hurt the hummers but would be a deterrent to bees. I'm watching one of the girls right now hovering. Her little wings are held up and back. No part of her body is even near the base.

  • mbuckmaster

    Linda, all it would take is a hummer collision near the feeder to push one of them into that oil, and they would be with it for quiet a while...they have no way to wash oil off their wings (doesn't mix with water!). I've been horrified to read that some people use petroleum jelly, which can be a death sentence if a hummer gets it on its wings.

    The simple answer to all of this is a basin-style feeder like the Hummzinger. I have five of these types of feeders, and even with the multitude of wasps and bees in my garden, I have had zero visit my hummingbird feeders this year, which have been up since March. In addition, it also has a built-in ant moat, is the easiest feeder to clean on the market, is dishwasher-safe, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

    I keep waiting for GardenWeb to ban me...I keep pushing this feeder so much on here it must seem like I work for the company! But the simple truth is that I want to share the pleasure of trouble-free hummingbird feeders with others who love these fascinating and beautiful animals. My only feeder concerns are making fresh nectar, rinsing every two days, and watching the hummers come in. I even have one Hummzinger set up so I can sit below can see them lapping up the nectar through the translucent base. A very neat hummer perspective! =)

  • jodybeerse


    On this site they write that simply moving the feeder a few feet should possibly help.

    I found this tip

    "The best way to avoid bees is to deny them access to the syrup. The HummZinger and Hummerfest feeders are inherently bee and wasp-proof because the syrup level is too low for insects to reach, but easily in range of the shortest hummingbird tongue. If you choose not to try a new feeder and bees or wasps persist, first try moving the feeder, even just a few feet; insects are not very smart, and will assume the food source is gone forever. They may never find it in its new location, while the hummingbirds will barely notice that it was moved. If that doesn't work, take the feeder down for a day, or until you stop seeing wasps looking for it. You'll see hummingbirds looking for it, too, but they won't give up nearly as soon as the wasps."

    Hope it helps.


  • lindaohnowga

    Thanks so much everyone for all of your wonderful information. The feeder was replaced with a Hummzinger. Problem solved.

  • penny1947

    I have several different style feeders....the saucer feeders which the bees, yellowjackets, etc. can't access, test tube feeders that they can access if they are tilled too low and bottle feeders that they can also access if I don't have them angled just right. The saucer style feeders are easily accessible to the hummers if the bees take over one of the other feeders. I also hang a very shallow bowl with old sugar water about 5 or 6 ft. away from the feeders that are most susceptible to the hummer feeders. This works like a charm. I mainly have yellow jacket problems. They go to the open bowl with the old sugar water because it is open and easily accessed and leave the feeders alone. Occasionally they drink too much and drown in the nectar. Late August and Sept. is my worst time and I usually end up hang yellow jacket traps up at that time as they are very aggressive.


  • jerseyearth Zone 6NJ

    I see no reason to capture and drown wasps, bees and hornets. In fact, when I swatted a bald-faced hornet and he went to the ground to recoup, I felt crappy.
    The bees are gonna be attracted to the sugar water-- that's the fact. I try to live with it... But....Buck-- thanks for the great review on hummziner.. I'm gonna try it

  • eric580

    On my old feeder I had an ant moat filled with soapy water. The wasps hated it and left. On my hummzinger I still use the soapy water ant moat because the wasps would congregate by the feeder if I didn't.

  • sumitlimbu

    Bird feeders including glass hummingbird feeders, window bird feeders, squirrel proof bird feeders, Nyjer Feeders and decorative bird feeders. here is list of some of the feeders we have Brome Squirrel Buster Plus, Aspects, Perky Pet, Bird's Choice, Birdscapes, Droll Yankees Flipper, Duncraft, First Nature, Squirrel Be Gone, Wingscapes and Woodlink just to name a few.

    Here is a link that might be useful: glass hummingbird feeders

  • Bi1l189616

    I made the mistake of putting concentrated hummingbird food into my feeder without diluting it. As it was nearly pure sugar, the bees were instantly attracted. Of this I am not certain, but I imagine they must communicate where food sources are because within days the feeders were completely covered with bees all day. I followed a suggestion and took them down for a week. As soon as I rehung them, the bees came back in swarms feeding off the now diluted food.
    Rather than take your feeders down, you have to "untrain" the bees that these are a food source for them. I filled them with simple tap water and rehung them. The bees kept returning but upon discovering water, would leave shortly thereafter. Within a week I was down to one or two bees a day. Clearly you wonôt attract any humming birds that week, but you will get rid of the bees! it is now two weeks later and I have NO bees whatsoever and my balcony is like a hummingbird Starbucks. Try it, it works and does so without harming either the birds or our pollinating friends who are vital to the environment and suffer from declining populations. Good Luck!

  • maxlet

    About the site that said that bees "will assume the food source is gone forever" if it disappears for a while& that they won't be able to find it if you move it a few feet...those statements are idiotic on so many levels. Two points, which apply mainly to honeybees; (A) food sources don't sit around eternally, always full of infinite food. Flowers --they never noticed that flowers bloom & go away???, & (B) social insects, especially h-bees, are individually 'stupid' but extremely intelligent as a group. As Bi1l1etc mentioned, honeybees do actually communicate, in detail, the location, distance, & richness of food sources via bee dances. They will find the moved feeders & they will tell their hive sisters all about it/them. As Bi1l also mentioned, honeybees are disappearing drastically in the US & elsewhere and definitely need all the help they can get. They need water, too, so just filling feeders with water won't necessarily get rid of them if there's a shortage of water sources.*
    That said, I'd rather have birds at my hummingbird feeders, but the only thing that's worked for me is that I've hung 5 different types of feeders (none of drip tube variety). The birds & the bees have worked it out for themselves; the bees mostly cluster on the cheapest, small plastic ones designed to hang from hanging's amazing how fast they suck 'em dry! There's certainly no shortage of h'birds on the other ones. The generic non-zinger types don't get hardly any bees, with & without bee guards.

    My yard is very small so all are hanging within a space about 20' x 5', with a humongous fuschia bush a few yards away, which the bees & birds also both love.

    However, I am VERY lucky in that (so far) no yellow jackets or hornets have shown up; I've lived on the cold central coast of Oregon since March & those monsters evidently don't like it (I stepped on a YJ hive as a kid & HATE them). In NC I had to put YJ traps all over the place. I then used several non-drip tube h-bird feeders without too much problem from them.

    I'm happy to help our poor doomed fuzzy pollinators...we're going to be in deep trouble without them. I'm just glad I can feed the hummingbirds & other song birds (other feeders) too.

    *The loss of honeybees contributes to increasing food prices, including almonds, strawberries, etc. Here's a depressing quote: "Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the COUNTRY'S surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And thatâÂÂs not just a west coast problem��"California supplies 80% of the worldâÂÂs almonds" ( (emphasis mine)

  • irenenj

    Solved the bee problem - there are these flat 8 oz all red feeders with a long hook in middle. Unfortunately they cost $20 each but because there is no yellow at all on the feeders and the way the top flowers are set, bees and wasps cannot get to the liquid and are not attracted to it in the first place. No bees. Oh, those flat ones snap together, they do not screw top and bottom so you need a butter knife to stick under the top to pry the top and bottom apart which is a huge negative You'd think for the money they'd have a screw top so you can open the dumb thing

  • Sabrina Stramecki

    I have had my hummingbird feeders up for a couple of seasons and this is the first year that yellow jackets have invaded them. Neither feeder has any yellow on it either. Both are flat feeders and one is a HummZinger feeder, which I was told is wasp-proof, but they have managed to find their way inside!!!!! Somehow they're able to get inside even though the holes are very small on both feeders. My ratio is 4:1 (4 parts water, 1 part sugar). I'm at my wits' end as to how to get rid of these pesky wasps!!! Any help would be so appreciated!!!! Thank you!

  • garvstuff

    I also had that problem with the yellow-jackets getting inside my HummZinger. I read a tip and solved it by inserting mini-airline tubing into the ports. It is small enough to prevent the bees from getting in. The mini-tubing is found in a pet store that sells aquarium supplies. You only need about 1/4" per port but mine came in a roll for $4.00. I've put this in all my feeders and no more bees!

  • Sabrina Stramecki

    I heard a wonderful solution to my yellow jacket problem. My mother told me about this - stuff a brown paper bag with plastic bags, or whatever, and hang somewhat near the hummingbird feeders. The yellow jackets think it's another yj nest and don't come around! Yes, it's true!!! I get one once in a while, but they leave quite quickly. Now instead of 4 or 5 feeding off my one feeder, I get one every other day or so and he leaves quickly!! Try it!! Pass it on!!! Thank you!!!!!

  • LeeAnne Abelt-Evanovich

    Try wrapping your feeder with a dryer sheet. The bees hate the smell. The bees are gone instantly. I don't believe this is bad for the hummers.

  • wamccorm777

    It's interesting to me that those who design feeders to be sold don't take into consideration what design(s) work(s). They keep making junk because we keep buying it. In my opinion, there are three big no-no's in hummingbird feeders. 1) The holes through which the juice is accessed must be small: just big enough for the hummers and no more. 2) The distance from the top of the juice to the feeder hole needs to be too long for wasps and bees, but short enough for hummers to get access. 3) The feeder MUST NOT leak. Over the years I have fed thousands upon thousands of hummers.

  • Poppy Campbell

    When e had the farm, I kept about a dozen hummingbird feeders going all summer, and yes the bees were a problem. But then I made up a 2:1 ratio of sugar water and placed it in cat food cans nearby the hummingbird feeders. And another thi ng to deter bees. Hang a brown bag filled with plastic bags so it resembles a hornets nest someplace like a porch and it it will keep lots of other bees away. It worked for us.

  • Sabrina Stramecki

    I did the brown bag filled with plastic bags last summer and it worked like a charm! I'll be doing it again this year. Love to see my little hummers and can't wait for their migration north.

  • carolasig54

    It helps a lot to make sure your feeded is in the shade. Bees hate to eat in the shade.

  • wamccorm777

    I carefully select my feeders to prevent bees, wasps, and dirt dobbers from using them. I use feeders that: 1. do not leak; 2. have feeding openings about 5/8 inch above the juice level; 3. have feeding holes that are barely big enough for a hummer's beak; 4. have no yellow on them. This works.

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