How Do You Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders?

Bees are attracted to hummingbird feeders, and while a few here and there are not an issue (even the hummingbirds don’t mind), if too many honey bees come to the feeder, the hummingbird nectar can become less attractive to the hummingbirds because it is contaminated.

Not only are bees a nuisance when they swarm around your hummingbird feeder, but they can also be dangerous. If you’re not careful, you could get stung!

So, how do you keep bees away from hummingbird feeders?

Follow these tips to make sure bees don’t bother hummingbird feeders, and enjoy watching these beautiful birds without having to worry about pesky insects. Let’s deter insects while encouraging our beautiful hummingbirds to visit the feeders again and again.

If you click on a link and then make a purchase, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

What Attracts Bees to a Hummingbird Feeder?

It seems like honey bees can be attracted to a lot of things that other insects would leave alone. In reality, they’re just looking for food and water, the same as any bee should.

In this case, it happens to be your hummingbird feeders!

So why does this happen? There are several reasons that bees end up at a hummingbird feeder, and all of them can be addressed.

Bees are attracted to sugar water because it is a food source that is full of the nutrients they need to stay alive. And, if their source of nectar is scarce, the sugar water found in hummingbird feeders is the next best solution for them.

They’ll look for flowering plants and are naturally attracted to them, of course, but those nectar feeders are enticing and a food source they’ll keep returning to unless given some encouragement to go elsewhere.

Pollinator garden bees are not a bad thing to have in your backyard garden, but you also don’t want to be discouraging hummingbirds from coming to you, either.

How to Keep Bees Away From Your Hummingbird Feeder

how to keep bees away from your hummingbird feeder

1 | Keep the feeder clean and leak-free

The first thing to remember is to keep the hummingbird feeder clean. It’s always best to clean and refill your feeder every three days or so, but this is especially important when you have bees swarming around your feeder. The more times the nectar gets contaminated, the less desirable it becomes for hummingbirds.

Nectar is spilled when the hummingbirds are feeding, and it can also drip out of the feeding port if they are filled up too much. Spilled nectar will attract bees quickly.

So when you’re cleaning the feeder, be sure to clean around the feeding ports, remove any drips and spills from the feeder, and try not to overfill the ports.

If needed, reinforce the seals so they don’t leak. If you use some kind of plumber’s tape make sure it does not come into contact with the nectar.

Bottom line? Keep the hummingbird feeder clean and in good working order to minimize leakage!

2 | Install Bee Guards

A bee guard will help to keep bees away from the feeding ports. Some feeders already have bee guards built-in, but if not, you can purchase them separately.

Most of these are made with mesh netting that is small enough for hummingbird’s long narrow beak to fit through, but big enough to keep bees out. However, if they are very persistent, they may be able to get through the netting.

Make sure you fasten them on TIGHTLY so that bees don’t sneak in through any openings!

Once the bees learn that they can’t access the nectar, they’ll leave and look for other food sources.

Bottom line? Make sure your feeders have bee guards!

3 | Move the Hummingbird Feeder Regularly

Sometimes, relocating the feeder will help to keep bees from your hummingbird feeder. Why is this?

Well, hummingbirds will scout out the new location and should be able to find it without a problem as long as you don’t move it too far away and too often.

But the bees? They don’t look for the new location and most likely won’t find it.

Bottom line? Try moving your feeder by a few feet regularly!

4 | Find a Shadier Spot for the Hummingbird Feeder

Move the hummingbird feeder to a partially shaded location. Bees prefer bright, sunny locations.

Hummingbirds don’t mind some shade, and moving it to a location that is out of full sun will also help keep the nectar fresher.

Bottom line? Move your hummingbird feeders to a shadier spot!

5 | Use Saucer Feeders that are Red

First, the color red is attractive to hummingbirds, but it’s not the number one color for bees – they are attracted to bright yellow. So in general, steer clear of anything yellow on the hummingbird feeders, such as yellow feeding ports.

A red hummingbird feeder is always preferable when it comes to attracting the hummers and preventing bees from taking over the nectar feeder.

Second, the construction of a saucer-style feeder can be less appealing to insects.

Some styles have a built-in ant moat as well as bee guards to keep the hummingbirds happy and the insects away.

Bottom line? Red, saucer feeders are worth considering!

6 | Plant nectar-rich flowers

By planting bee-friendly flowers that bees love, they may be more apt to go straight to that source and buzz right by the hummingbird feeder.

Choose flowers that bloom at different times of the year, such as crocus, foxglove, primrose, bee balm, columbine, cardinal flower, purple coneflower and crape myrtle.

Other flower species that bees love include cone flowers, daisies, hibiscus, iris, lavender, penstemon, and tithonia.

Bottom line? Plant nectar-rich flowers to keep bees away from your hummingbird feeder!

7 | Give bees their own feeder

You can hang a feeder similar to the hummingbird feeder, but make it more attractive to the bees by doing two things:

  • place it in full sunlight
  • put a sweeter sugar water solution in it

Start by placing this feeder relatively close to the hummingbird feeder, then slowly move it further away. The bees will move along with it to get their sugar water.

Having bees in the area isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but they shouldn’t be buzzing around your hummingbird feeder. Give them a bee feeding station to keep them happy.

Bottom line? Place out decoy feeders for bees!

Actions to Deter Bees

actions to deter bees from your hummingbird feeder

While you want to keep your hummers happy and the bees away from the feeder, there are a couple of actions you don’t want to take, because you could potentially endanger the birds.

First, never use petroleum jelly, cooking spray, olive oil or other slippery type of substances on your hummingbird feeder. It can deter the insects but could potentially harm the hummers by sticking to their feathers and making it hard for them to fly.

Second, avoid insecticides and chemicals, as they could be devastating to the hummingbirds.

The suggestions found in this article are natural and won’t pose any dangers to you, the honey bees, or the hummingbirds.

Conclusion: How Do You Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders?

The bottom line? Make your hummingbird feeders safe for the hummers, and distract bees with other food sources. You’re always going to have a few bees around the hummingbird feeders, it’s a part of the process, my hummingbird-loving friend.

But redirecting these problematic insects (at least from the hummer’s point of view!) to another type of feeder, or to a natural food source such as the flowers in your garden, will keep both the insects and the hummingbirds happy. And, you’ll be smiling too!