If bees or wasps are a problem, getting into the nectar of your hummingbird feeder or preventing your hummingbirds from feeding, here are a few tips you can use:
* Use a hummingbird feeder with bee guards, so the bees can’t get into the nectar.
* Try feeders that have no yellow in them. The color yellow could be attractive to bees. Try painting the yellow parts with red nail color.
* If the bees are actually yellow jackets, a kind of wasp, you may be able to reduce the population with yellow jacket traps.
* Relocate the feeder: Once hummingbirds find a food source, they will visit it frequently. Insects are only likely to visit convenient food sources and are less inclined to search for relocated feeders. Moving the feeder by just a few feet can minimize the insect visitors without discouraging the hummingbirds or orioles.
* Move your hummingbird feeder to a very shady location. Bees prefer to eat in sunny areas. Distract bees with a saucer of nectar where the feeder used to be.
* Make the nectar less sweet. Try 5 parts of water to 1 part sugar instead of the usual 4 parts water to one part sugar.
* After hanging with fresh nectar, be sure to clean off sugary drips or spills on the outside of the feeder so bees won’t be attracted to the sugary scent.
* Never use insect-killing chemicals around hummingbird feeders! It’s bad for the hummingbirds and may also kill beneficial honey bees!
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NOTE: This article was originally published in November 2009 and has been updated for accuracy and completeness.