Bees, hornets and wasps love nectar as much as hummingbirds, but stinging insects are not generally welcome guests at nectar feeders.
Not only can insects contaminate nectar so it is unsuitable for the birds to drink, but they may swarm or mob birds and keep them from feeding at all.
These insects can also be dangerous to humans if they become agitated, or if there are any concerns about allergic reactions to the insects’ stings.
Fortunately, these techniques are easy ways to control insects and keep them safely away from hummingbird feeders.
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.
Hummingbirds are fast problem solvers—bees and wasps, not so much. Simply relocating the hummingbird feeder to a new location may solve the insect problem. The hummingbirds will quickly find its new spot while wasps and bees will get confused and not know where to go.
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.
Working at the Wasp Wash
Keep things clean. Dirty feeders are more likely to experience problems—leaking sugar nectar attracts wasps and bees and can lure the pests to the feeder. Inspect the feeder regularly for cracks and replace it with a new feeder if any leaks are present. Wipe away drips and leaks as soon as they're noticed. Finally, wash and rinse the outside of the feeder thoroughly every few days
Plant Bee/Wasp- and Hummingbird-Friendly Flowers
Give the bees and wasps 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.