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Drive bees away from hummingbird feeders naturally

A calliope hummingbird sits at a feeder with a bowl design and yellow decorations.
A calliope hummingbird sits at a feeder with a bowl design and yellow decorations.

I have been getting a few questions about getting rid of bees that are overtaking hummingbird feeders. This can be a big problem this time of year, but fortunately there are some easy fixes.

Examine your feeder closely for leakage. Jar-type feeders can loosen in very hot weather and the expanding nectar inside can be pushed out. Switching to a bowl-type feeder, similar to the one shown here, can correct this problem. Make sure all the connections on your feeders are tight.

While red attracts hummingbirds, yellow is very attractive to bees. Simply removing yellow parts of the feeder can really cut down on the intruders’ visits. Also, try moving the feeder just a few yards away from the current location. Bees won’t be able to find it for a while.

Bees also tend to prefer food sources in sunny areas. Relocating your feeder to an area of your yard where there is some shade may cut down on the unwanted activity.

You can also give in to the bees in a way. Provide them their own nectar in an open bowl or pan. Move it further and further away each day until ample separation from the bird feeder is achieved.

Another rare but real threat to hummingbirds is the presence of predators on or close to an active feeder. Rat snakes will climb or descend onto a hanging feeder to await a careless bird. The same is true for large insects such as the praying mantis. The large ones can capture and hold a hummingbird with no problem. Large spiders can spin webs strong enough to hold a hummer. Just be aware of these threats and keep an eye on your active feeder.

Remember to provide water for the neighborhood birds during the continued heat of the Carolina Piedmont summer. My air conditioner’s condensation line exits my home’s foundation and provides a constant drip these days. There is a constant flight of birds to and from this drip and the puddle underneath the line opening – a stark reminder of how much area birds need water during hot periods.

Taylor Piephoff is a naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com. Check out his blog at piedmontbirding.blogspot.com