With the warmer weather in recent years, honeybees have been coming out of their hives earlier than customary. The warmer temperatures during the daytime hours have made honeybees become more active. With the colder temperatures at night, the flower that honeybees use to feed may not bloom. If there are no flowers for them to feed on, they will start to look for another source of food. Hummingbird feeders are the perfect solution to their problem. The bees are attracted to the sugary solutions we use to fill the feeders with. Honeybees use this solution as a food source for the hive.
Many of us who put out feeders every year have noticed that honeybees will take over the feeder and hummingbirds will not feed from them. Honeybees will use the feeders as a food source if they cannot find alternate food. Many people find this to be a big problem, they have put the feeders out for the birds not the honeybees. So what can we do to prevent a take over of our feeders.
There have been many solutions to this problem over the years. Here are a few that seemed to have worked for some people. Just move or take down the feeder for a couple of days to a week. It is said to break the honeybees flight pattern. They become uninterested in your feeder and are forced to look elsewhere for another food source. This may not make the hummingbirds happy, but as soon as you replace it they will return to feed without the bees.
Purchase feeders the have bee guards on them. You can also choose to make your own guards. Use something like a tube with a small opening, placed in the feeding ports. You may have to try different size tubing to find the perfect fit for your feeder. Put the tubing in the port where the birds feed to the bottom of the feeder. This makes it sturdy and cut the tubing off about 1/2 inch above the feeder. This will keep out honeybees because they have must shorter tongues than hummingbirds. This makes it harder for them to reach the food.
Many people have painted the flowers and parts on the feeders they already have. By using a nontoxic paint or fingernail polish, paint all the yellow parts to red. The hummingbirds will still use it because they are attracted to the color red. Honeybees it is said, seem to be attracted more to the color yellow, which in most cases the flowers and parts on your feeders are.
Here is another idea that seems to work. Dilute the hummingbird nectar in your feeder. Diluting the nectar from the standard or recommended solution, which is one part sugar to four parts water to one part sugar to five parts water. Bees do not seem to find the solution very appealing and will soon leave your feeders alone. This solution is still adequate enough for an energy source for the hummingbirds.
When hanging your feeders make sure you do not spill any of the sugar water down the sides of the feeder. Also many of the cheaper feeders will leak at the fill point due to the heating of the sun. If you see that this is happening, wash off the spills or leaks with water. Also hang your feeder in the shade, honeybees like to feed in the sun. This will help to keep honeybees off your feeder.
You may try using another feeder filled with hummingbird nectar that is lower to the ground, around four to five feet. Place this feeder at the back of your yard away from your regular hummingbird feeders for the honeybees. Try hanging your hummingbird feeders in an higher position.
Please whatever you do don’t use chemicals to get rid of honeybees. They have been declining in recent years and are vital to our food supply, because they are our main pollinators. Many people also use oils and vaseline on their feeders to keep out the bees. This is not a good idea either, if this gets on the hummingbirds feathers it can mat and cause them harm.
By far the best solution to honeybee problems are purchasing a good quality feeder. Many people have used a feeder called the “Hummzinger”. You can find these feeders on line at specialty shops or maybe even in your local garden stores. Here is a great place to look for the “Hummzinger” on line, this site carries several different sizes to choose from and they have a lifetime warranty. They may cost more than a feeder that you would buy at your local discount store, but they are well worth the money. These feeders are basin or shallow type feeders and will not leak or spill, they also have a built in ant guard, for those of you with that problem too. Whichever way you choose to stop honeybees from taking over your feeders, remember that they are insects essential to our way of life, so please if at all possible don’t harm the honeybees.