Bees, Wasps and Nectar

Deter bees and wasps!

Learn how to keep bees out of your hummingbird feeders! 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! Happy Birding!


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  • Mr&Mrs OzzyMan June 16, 2014 at 10:18 am

    We have over 29 Hummingbirds out here daily,we have 9 feeder for the Hummingbirds “1” for the bees, in order to jeep them away from our guests.. wife put “bee-feeders” 20′ away…. will try 40in time…. full sun after 11am on yard.Sun rises in front of house sets out back with ABOUT a 1.24 acre area all around it.

  • MJ September 29, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    My feeders a all red, I have tried by moving the feeders (bees follow) I have put out a bowl of sugar water for the bees and the bees swarm to it but also some stay at the feeders…I have cut back from 6 feeders to 4 feeders and the bees filled them all and I finally sprayed the feeder with Pam and it seems the bees are not to fond of it. Hope it will work. I am gonna look for feeders with bee guards on them..

    • Dawn Coutu November 3, 2014 at 8:02 am

      Hi MJ,

      I’m sorry to hear that bees are taking over your bird feeders. Fortunately, there is a solution. You might start by reading one of our articles specific to this issue, “How to Keep Bees Out of Your Hummingbird Feeders“. You can also check out our selection of hummingbird feeders. Our Landmark Hummingbird Feeder has bee-resistant feeding ports. While Dr. JB’s Hummingbird Feeder has a large nectar capacity and is leak-proof, so there’s no nectar for them to eat! One of these feeders should certainly solve your problem. You are more than welcome to call our Customer Service Team, as well. Call 1-800-763-7878 from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm ET Monday – Friday. Happy Birding!

    • Lisa July 20, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Remove any flowers off of all hummingbird feeders take a Q-tip rub a little bit of vegetable oil around the whole and around where the bottle connects to the base it keeps all bees away and don’t ants

      • Heidi Babb July 21, 2016 at 10:53 am

        Any kinds of oil, spray, or petroleum jelly should be used with extreme caution if used at all. It is very dangerous to the birds — if it gets on the feathers, it can cause many problems and even result in death of the bird. It’s much safer to choose a feeder with good bee guards and hang the feeder from an ant moat to keep the crawling bugs off the feeder.

  • stoney September 14, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    took the yellow off crazy glued white buttons with two holes works great the bees can’t get too the juice

    • Dawn Coutu September 15, 2015 at 7:29 am

      Excellent, Stoney. We’re happy that worked well for you. Thanks for sharing your good news! Happy Birding! -Dawn

    • sharon kam August 23, 2016 at 6:12 am

      I have many red jackets swarming my two humming bird feeders. Do you think the mint is a good idea?

      • Dawn Coutu September 13, 2016 at 8:22 am

        Hi Sharon,

        Thank you for asking! While mint may help keep red wasps and yellow jackets away from your hummingbird feeders, we suggest using mint leaves. Because using oil, whether it’s olive oil or mint oil, can be harmful to your birds. Since birds spend the most amount of time around the feeding ports, coming into contact with sticky substances like oil can cause their feathers to stick together and make it difficult for them to preen and fly away to safety. Keep in mind, when using the mint leaves, rub the leaves on the feeder itself, around the feeding ports and on the bottom where the feeder comes together. We’ve also heard of folks rubbing garlic cloves around the feeding ports and bottom of their hummingbird feeder with great success. Try these tips and let us know what works for you, Sharon. Take care!

        Warm regards,


  • Julie Mchenry June 2, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Nothing is working for me…the bees are swarming my oriole feeder and hummer feeders and also the feeder that is ALL THEIRS….is the Pam idea a good solution? I heard that oil was not good for hummers ! Can someone help…there is no yellow on any of my feeders..

    • Heidi Babb June 8, 2016 at 10:02 am

      Bees and wasps can really be difficult to deal with, but we do NOT recommend using Pam or any other cooling oil on feeders, as it can be really harmful to the hummers if it gets on their feathers. Why don’t you give us a call and we can talk about your specific situation? Our friendly, knowledgeable customer service team is available Monday – Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm ET at 1-800-763-7878.

  • T July 23, 2016 at 11:11 am

    I used fresh mint. I rubbed the mint leaves all over the service area, avoiding the actual feeding holes, after I cleaned the feeder. The bees checked it out and they didn’t come back. It only took about four leaves. The hummingbirds didn’t seem to mind the mint at all.

  • B. Minder August 1, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Hummers are completely daunted by the bees. We have a continual dance going on with about a dozen birds and bees on four feeders. The only thing we have not tried is oil. I will try it but very judiciously — meaning in insufficient quantities to affect flight characteristics of the birds. I hope a qtip with oil at the feeding orifices will work. Even the bee resistent feeders around here are ineffective, they still keep trying as they are attracted to the existence of the nectar.

    I doubt I will have a final answer this year as our hummers leave in mid august.

    • Dawn Coutu August 4, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Hi B. Minder, oil in small amounts is dangerous for the birds and we have a couple of other suggestions for you. Since bees are attracted to sunny areas, they’re less likely to visit any hummingbird feeder placed in a location with shade. As a bonus, the nectar is going to stay fresh a little bit longer since it’s not sitting in direct sunlight. Here’s another idea you can do at the same time, if desired. Set aside a small dish of nectar outdoors for the bees; any leftover nectar from your hummingbird feeders should work fine. By placing a dish of nectar in a sunny location, the bees are more likely to visit their own special feeder than your hummingbird feeders. Since it may take a little bit of time for your flying friends to get used to the changes, give it a week or two. Then let us know how these tips worked out for you, B. Minder. Take care and Happy Birding! -Dawn

  • Roberta August 24, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    What’s a bee guard? I’ve tried every suggestion from various websites and none of them work. I don’t hold out too much hope for a REAL solution.

    • Dawn Coutu September 13, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Hi Roberta,

      Thank you for asking! Bee guards are convenient barriers built into your hummingbird or oriole nectar feeders to keep out flying insects. Bee guards can be flat or dome-shaped and are built into the feeding ports. In addition, some bee guards include a nectar tip on the backend of the feeding port and the flexible plastic membrane allows the hummingbird’s long tongue to slip through and sip nectar, while closing off nectar access for bees and wasps. Since it sounds like flying insects may be frequent visitors at your feeder, you may consider switching to a dish-style hummingbird feeder, which won’t leak. And we all know leaking nectar is attractive to bees! Here’s one example of a dish hummingbird feeder with built-in bee guards, designed to block insects from your nectar source. And the flexible nectar tips provide your feeder with greater nectar protection, keeping the food clean for your hummingbirds. You can find the HummZinger Ultra our our website: Take care, Roberta!

      Warm regards,


  • Jim Brown August 29, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    My feeder is all red. Sets in the shade under a roof. Not sure if bees or yellow jackets. They are small with yellow and black stripes. At this time they are covering the lower half of the feeder. The bee guard seems to work. What do I do now?

    • Dawn Coutu September 12, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Hi Jim,

      Sounds like you may have yellow jackets visiting your feeder; however, we’re happy to hear your bee guards are working! Now let’s see what we can do about those yellow jackets…let’s see if we can attract them to a separate area of your yard. When you make your hummingbird nectar, set aside some to put in a separate dish. The idea is to attract your yellow jackets away from your hummingbird feeder. Since they prefer spending time in the sun, place their nectar dish in a sunny spot on your porch or on a quieter area of your lawn. Give it a few days, change out the nectar as needed and see if they make the move to their new feeding spot. You may also consider making a separate nectar batch for the yellow jackets with 1 part sugar to 3 parts water because the sweeter mixture is more attractive to them. Take care and let us know how this works for you, Jim!


  • Kathleen August 31, 2016 at 11:23 am

    I was researching on how to keep bee’s away from my humming bird feeder. I tried using mint extract on a Q-tip spread around the outer parts of the flowers on the feeder. It did not work, I think it even made the humming birds choose other sources. I cleaned my feeder and tried another idea I had read about. And this worked immediately!! I took a plain brown paper lunch bag, and puffed it up like I was blowing up a balloon. And set it on a bench near the feeder. Immediately the bees flew away and now my feeder is bee free. My Hummers are Happy and so am I…..

  • helen write September 4, 2016 at 12:15 am

    We have 4 feeders and 25 hummers. I have a yellow plastic like hive thing that I fill with apple juice to attract the
    wasps….and it does ….once they get in they can’t get out….after I collect a few I put the whole thing in a bucket of water.
    clean it out and start over. Keeps the wasps away from the feeders.

  • Diana Brannan September 26, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Helen Write–I think that is great-sounding idea. I watch the wasps actually run around the edges of the hummer feeders and run the hummers off and I am very unhappy with them. The hummers do enough fighting among themselves over the feeders and the wasps are just adding to the stress.

  • Dee Wilson July 30, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I am trying to resolve issues I am now having with my oriole and hummingbird feeders. I live in Southern California our temps have been 90 plus every day. I have feeders with bee guards some without. I have placed them in shade, tried diluting mixture more, moving feeders around, even different styles of feeders, seems nothing is making a difference. The feeders are all covered with bees, the orioles and hummingbirds don’t want to go near the feeders. I have not had an issue until this past week. Help, I do not want to kill the bees, but I do want the birds around.

    • Dawn Coutu August 30, 2017 at 9:49 am

      Hi Dee,

      Thank you for asking! To encourage the bees to move away from your oriole and hummingbird feeders, set aside a shallow dish with sugar water for the bees. Place this dish several feet away from your hanging nectar feeders. You may be surprised to find the bees prefer feeding from their own dish, placed in the sun, rather than your feeders in the shade. Try this and see how well it works for you. And feel free to call our friendly bird feeding specialists for more bee-friendly tips. Our bird specialists are available by calling 1-888-879-5095 from Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM ET. Thank you, Dee. Take care!



  • Dawn Coutu September 12, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Hi Marsha,

    In cases like this, it’s a good idea to call your local wildlife rehabilitator, since they’re specially trained to deal with your local wildlife. Visit the Humane Society’s website to find the closest wildlife rehabilitator in your state:

    Warm regards,


  • Heidi Babb October 4, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    That’s a great question, Gay. When it comes to bees, there’s no such thing as too much sugar in the syrup! In fact, some beekeepers make thick sugar candy to feed their bees in the winter while other use a method called “dry sugar feeding,” where they just empty a bag of sugar onto some damp newspaper for the bees to eat.

    The nectar you’re feeding certainly wouldn’t kill bees, but there are many things that could, including pesticides being used in your neighborhood, cold weather, parasites, disease, and plain old age. Enjoy your insect friends!