How to Keep Bees, Ants, and Wasps Out of Your Hummingbird Feeders!

August 5, 2014

Every summer Duncraft Customer Service answers this question the most: “How do I keep bees and wasps (and ants) out of my hummingbird feeders?” Actually, there are lots of tips that may help you solve this problem. Keeping ants out of your hummer feeders is fairly easy. All it takes is a way to prevent ants from climbing down the hanger and into the feeder.

2415This is easily accomplished with an ant moat–a cup of water between the hanger and your feeder. When ants crawl down the hanger, they must cross the watery moat to continue to the feeder. Ants don’t swim well! They will not attempt to cross the water–and if they do, they will drown. Shop for ant moats at Duncraft!

Bees and wasps are another story. We have compiled our own article about this problem, “How to Keep Bees Out of Your Hummingbird Feeders“. Good luck!

Watch these crazed bees at a hummingbird feeder. Hope your problem isn’t as bad as this one! Here it’s likely the sugary solution dripped onto the feeder while filling it and the bees followed the trail. Make sure the feeder has no sugar on the outside of the feeder! In some areas, it gets so hot and dry that the bees are searching for nectar and moisture where ever they can find it.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy August 7, 2010 at 10:16 am

Lightly spray the product “Pam” (it keeps food from sticking to a pan) on the feeder around the holes where the hummingbirds feed. The bees won’t be back, but the only thing is, “Pam” leaves a residue and it’s difficult to get off. The “Pam” does NOT affect the hummers!

Tacycrals August 20, 2010 at 7:17 am

Very Interesting!
Thank You!

pj September 8, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I would NEVER spray Pam on a hummer feeder!

Duncraft September 8, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Kathy mentioned only lightly spraying, not coating the feeder. You don’t need much but it does work and so does olive oil. You just need the slightest film and bees and wasps won’t land on it. I’ve watched the bees approach, but then they leave. Only the hummingbird’s beak enters the feeding port and they don’t seem to touch the surrounding “flower” at all.

bnorton August 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I tried all the previous mentioned remedies but none of them worked to I combined these. I have 5 short, cheap hummer feeders around deck in which the wasp and yellow jackets had taken over. I removed the yellow parts of the feeder as someone suggested, but I also had a yellow “bee feeder” (one that they can crawl in but not crawl out) and I put that in the middle. Within 30 min. they had left the hummer feeders and had gone to the yellow thing and started to drown. No expensive humzinger, it works.

Elizabeth September 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Thank you for the tip about using Pam on Humming Bird Feeders to keep the Honey Bees and Wasp off the feed. It REALLY WORKS!!!!!!

Janie May 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Just tried the Pam tip and it worked! I sprayed some in a bowl and then used my finger to rub some on the port.

Magilla July 12, 2012 at 10:33 am

Don’t drown honey bees…….find every way possible to help them survive. Life as we know it on this planet depends heavily on their work…if they survive we survive.

Jackie July 15, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Yes, PLEASE DON’T DROWN THE HONEY BEES!! There are so few honeybees left, that we don’t even have any where I live (Arkansas). But we do have WASPS EVERYWHERE!!
If you still have honeybees in your area, DON’T USE BEE TRAPS!!

Ria September 2, 2012 at 9:29 am

We have had a similar experience w/the bees as the video this year. We were just so grateful to see that many healthy bees we let this go on for the last two weeks. Our Hummers are pretty intrepid & have been feeding more at dusk, I will say I did whack the wasps that showed up. But, more to the point, since TD Isaac has finally passed, our ground is now well soaked & green is returning to our landscape, I feel it is time for the bees to be off doing their bee jobs. So I took the following steps:
1. Washed our feeders in very hot water mixed with vinegar (to erase the chem tags telling the various insects “There’s food here!”) actually I let all the pieces soak for about an hour in the solution.
2. Removed the various yellow “flower” pieces. (they were looking faded & somewhat sorry anyway)
3. Reduced my usual feeding mixture from heavy syrup to about a 3.5-4:1 ratio
4. Coated the plastic body where the bees & wasps congregated with olive oil.
5. Moved all the feeders to new spots (most shaded).
So far the Hummers are back, en force, fighting amongst themselves & feeding like winter is upon us.

carol September 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm

i read about using pam or rubbing olive oil on the feeder, i just used some pam with olive oil and the bees/wasps are flying around but not landing anymore. thank you so much for your help. we were getting so many bees and wasps i was afraid to sit on my own front porch, plus we have 4 dogs and i didn’t want them to be stung either. thank you again. it does not seem to be hurting the insects. grateful from murphy, NC

Susan September 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

To keep bees away, could I wrap a dryer sheet around the pole of the hummer feeder? I have heard that bees do not like the scent of dryer sheets.

Henry E. Tegtmeyer September 26, 2012 at 9:42 am

Thanks for the great tips. We’ve had a nuisance type of problem mostly with wasps and some earwigs. The earwigs manage to get into the liquid and drown. There are a few bees ‘working’ the flowers in the yard but, not
very many. They don’t come to the hummer feeders. Summer is over here,
in northern Illinois, so the hummers will be leaving soon. We will certainly
be trying everyones’ good advice next summer, 2013. Also, good advice,
from the comments: Don’t do anything to harm the honey-bees.

Valeria Rogers March 28, 2013 at 10:43 am

The honey bee problem isn’t just for hummingbird feeders. My neighbors honey bees get inside and takeover 2 regular bird feeders with seed. They are after the sugar in the corn that’s part of seed mix.

Mary April 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm

We got rid of the feeder with yellow on it and problem solved….for some reason the just didn’t even attempt to use the all red feeders.

Sandy February 8, 2014 at 4:48 pm

We live in the Rio Grande Valley and we have hummers a few hummers that stay year round. I went a few minutes ago and my feeders were covered in bees. I had to spar the feeders with the hose so I could get the feeders down. I am going to try these tips in hopes to keep the bees away. Thanks

shirley May 1, 2014 at 7:01 pm

I tried spraying nonstick spray..I had canola… the bees hang around but dont seem to be able to mount on the feeder and fly away. I wonder how often I have to spray?

Mary May 31, 2014 at 7:07 pm

I had honey bees drowning in my orange oriole feeder! I took the feeder down until I can solve the problem, and as mentioned, we need the bees to LIVE. So they can fit through the hole, and my question is if olive oil works to keep them from landing on a larger hole like that. I will also remove the yellow from from my hummer feeders, but the bees can’t fit inside those. Hummingbird & bird lovers, please don’t drown bees as a solution!

Blue June 12, 2014 at 9:59 am

Don’t need a specific Oriole feeder. I have them here too but, they are happy with a perch where they can reach the hummer feeders and, orange wedges tucked behind the flowers on the hummer feeder. They share just fine and, the hummers like the tiny gnats that are drawn to the orage bits too.

Gloria July 4, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Well I live in Arkansas and I can tell you the honey bee is alive and well
In my neck of the woods. They have been swarming my feeders for the past few days and drain them in an afternoon completely dry. I am going
To try the Pam or olive oil trick and taking yellow flower off. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad to see the bees. My bee keeper friends have told me how fragile the honey bee world is right now. I hope they will go back to the clover in my pasture.

Gabby July 26, 2014 at 9:45 pm

I live around Heber Springs Arkansas and I have honey bees all over place!

Val August 11, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Can’t seem to attract any hummingbirds no matter what I do. This is my first year feeding so I read up on them,but still can’t attract. I have one that flutters through but never stays. I use distilled water and have flowers they like. Any tips?

Cheryl August 15, 2014 at 8:36 am

Keeping ants off the hummingbird feeder is so easy! I use Crisco and rub some on the base of the pole that the ants are climbing. At the beginning of the year this is done and have never had an ant problem again.

Dawn Coutu August 25, 2014 at 7:09 am

Dear Ms. Clark,

Thank you for taking the time to post your question on the Duncraft Wild Bird Blog.

You’ll find some great tips on one of our most recent Duncraft blogs, titled Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard. I also recommend reading Melissa Mayntz’s excellent blog on She has posted an excellent article on How to Attract Hummingbirds.

I don’t know what type of hummingbird feeder you are using, but you could consider adding some red to it, perhaps with a red weather baffle.

Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, so the more red you have, the better! You also want to make sure you’re changing the nectar frequently so it doesn’t become fermented or moldy. Change it at least once a week to be safe. Sometimes people will use one type of nectar and get no takers, then they change the type of nectar they’re using and all of a sudden they have hummers galore. Try a different brand, or if you’re using a store bought brand, try making your own. We sell a huge variety of nectars, including our most popular set of 2 cans of Hummingbird Nectar. I would also continue adding to your hummingbird flowers – a mix like our Hummingbird Scatter Garden could be a fun way to add more variety.

Please let me know if you have any more questions. You can also contact our customer service department and they’ll be happy to discuss more tips with you! We’re available Monday – Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm ET at 888-879-5095. We look forward to hearing from you.


Heidi Babb
Customer Service Manager
Duncraft Wild Bird Superstore

jim September 16, 2014 at 11:07 am

The Pam does seem to work. I clipped off the yellow ports and unfortunately the bees then crawled straight into the feeder itself. (This was after I had cleaned off most of the Pam and refilled the feeders.)

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