By: Teo Spengler
Hummingbirds are a gardener’s delight, as these brightly colored, tiny birds zip across the backyard in search of the nectar they require to keep moving. Many aid the little birds by hanging out feeders filled with sugar-water. For information about keeping pests out of hummingbird feeders, read on.
About Hummingbird Feeder Pests
Many gardeners view hummingbirds as very desirable guests in the backyard. Their bright colors are beautiful and it is a pleasure to watch the little creatures darting from flower to flower. One way of encouraging hummers to visit the garden is to hang out hummingbird feeders. Experts recommend that you use clear feeders with multiple feeding stations.
Hummingbirds are partial to red flowers, so pick a feeder with red trim. But don’t use red dye in the sugar/water mix. Just use a 1:4 ratio, or 1:3 in winter. This sugary substance provides quick energy for hummingbirds but it may also lead to insects on hummer feeders.
Hummers are not the only backyard creatures that are hungry and like sugar. Ants, wasps, bees and other insects can fall within that category too, so don’t be surprised if insects become hummingbird feeder pests. Insects on hummer feeders usually do not harm the tiny birds, but they can interfere with the hummingbird’s use of the feeder openings. You may want to start keeping pests out of hummingbird feeders. But what to do for hummingbird pests?
Do not use pesticides to combat insects on hummer feeders. It may be tempting if you see a line of ants, for example, “sharing” the sugar water with the birds, but birds also get protein from eating insects. Instead, put petroleum jelly around the openings and on the wire suspending the feeder.
If bees become hummingbird feeder pests, you can find “bee guards” at garden stores. They are perforated plastic caps that fit over the feeding tubes and act like grates. The hummers’ beaks can get into the grate but bee parts are too short.
Protecting Hummingbirds from Predators
Some reptiles, animals and even large insects view hummingbirds as prey, and you should do your best to protect them. Outdoor cats can be the worst offenders.
To protect against cats, position the feeders where the birds can land without danger. Don’t attach it to a tree limb or the eves of a house. Belling cats can help too.
Snakes can and do view hummingbirds as meals. So do praying mantis. Watch for them and shoo them off the feeder when you see them. And remember, positioning the feeder can be critical. Hummers are fast-moving and can recognize danger if you place the feeder where an approaching bird has a clear view.
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Hummingbirdsare a garden enthusiast’s joy, as these vibrantly tinted, small birds zoom throughout the yard searching for the nectar they need to maintain relocating. Lots of help the little birds by socializing feeders full of sugar-water. Pests on hummer feeders can contend with the gorgeous birds for this reward, and also there are killers out there that see the hummers as lunch. For details concerning maintaining parasites out of hummingbird feeders, continued reading.
Why Placement is So Important
Placing the feeder in the right spot is important for both you and the birds. You can place it under the partial shade of a large bush or under a tree, or an overhang from your house or canopy. The shade will work to prevent the nectar from spoiling too quickly. Even if you have your feeders out early and there’s no evidence that any birds have fed off it, you still need to change out the nectar every three to five days since it’s prone to spoiling. The last thing you want is a black mold problem on your hands. Not only can spoiled sugar water make your birds sick, but it can also prevent them from returning to your yard.
The feeder should also be placed close to protection as well. Research has shown that a feeder for hummingbirds should be placed approximately fifteen feet in proximity to a protected area. The farther away the feeder is placed from protection, or located out in the open, the less it’s going to be used. When a hummingbird isn’t eating, it’s keeping a close eye on its food source, perched in an area of protection. These birds don’t understand that the food source, such as nectar in a bird feeder, is an unlimited source. Instead, they view it as a large flower and flowers need to replenish.
Bushes and trees are an important part of this bird’s habitat. Aside from protection and a place to perch, these spots also offer places to nest and an additional food source: insects.
The feeder should be placed where you can also easily view it and should be at least six feet from the ground, with nothing planted at the base or around it. This is because plants located around a feeder can give cats and other predators a place to hide, as they bid their time until an unsuspecting hummingbird feeds, unaware of the danger lurking below.
Wasps, bees, and ants can be an issue with this particular type of feeder. Some models will come with a built-in ant moat, while others will come equipped with bee guards or a design that’s wasp-proof. You can also use peppermint oil to deter or kill any insects that try to climb the bird feeder. It will not harm the hummingbirds or deter them in any way.
Some birders will use their best hummingbird feeders in their windows, which can help to deter pests, predators, and furry pests. It will also allow you to easily view their activity from inside your home.
However, placing this type of feeder too close to your window can result in a collision, but a feeder that’s attached to the window itself will not.
Every bird will have its own unique personality, and some hummingbirds may be more passive, while others will be more aggressive. Because of this, I recommend purchasing more than one bird feeder. Make sure you place each of the feeders in a location where it cannot be seen from another bird feeder. You can try placing one feeder on each side of your house. This will prevent the birds from fighting over territory. If a hummingbird can see another feeder close by the one they frequent, they will try to guard both feeders and will end up scaring off passive birds.
What is hummingbird nectar?
Hummingbird nectar is a homemade alternative to nectar found naturally in flowers in the wild. The sucrose contained in the nectar provides the energy boost hummingbirds need to remain healthy and strong. If nectar from flowers is scarce, hummingbirds can get the sucrose it needs from tree sap. The bird gets the sap from wells drilled in trees by woodpeckers. If these food sources aren’t available, homemade alternatives are a decent alternative for hummingbirds.
12 Tips on How to Keep Bees And Wasps Off Hummingbird Feeders
1. Keep the Feeders Clean
Keeping the feeders clean and trying to keep it as less messy as possible has been observed to prevent insects.
If there are no spills of nectars on the ground or on the feeders, chances of insect attacks are low enough as the feeders are generally designed in a deep-dish manner.
2. Choose No-Insect Feeders
The best possible way to save the sweet nectar from the attacks of wasps, ants, and bumblebees is to go for no-insect hummingbird feeders.
These are designed in such a way that makes them less-insect friendly than others. The saucer hummingbird feeder is a good example of a no-insect feeder.
It positions the nectar away from the feeding station making it unreachable for the ants and bees, while hummingbirds with their long tongues have no trouble.
3. Avoid Yellow Feeders
Wasps and bees are attracted to yellow color and floral patterns but do not find red as appealing. So in order to control the movement of bees and wasps, it is necessary to avoid yellow-colored feeders.
Installing neutral-colored feeders is the perfect yet effortless way-out in this situation. Another common idea is that bees do not find red color as appealing a yellow, so if you have a red feeder, bees won’t see it.
4. Keep the Feeder Shaded
Most insects prefer to feed in full sunlight and avoid shady and dark regions. On the other hand, birds do not have such preferences.
So make nectar feeders less attractive by hanging them in a shadier spot. It is one of the effective and natural ways to control bees and wasps to the feeder.
If moving the feeder isn’t an option, you can try placing a separate feeder for the insects and make the nectar sweeter than the first one.
Thus bees, hornets, and the yellow jacket will hopefully move to the sweeter nectar. Keeping the second feeder open might also make it more inviting for insects.
5. Hang a Few Wasps’ Nests
Wasps and bees prefer to stay within their own territories. Another measure many people claim is hanging a few fake wasp nests along the yard.
In that case, they will avoid visiting your yard for the nectar as they can sense the presence of their competitors therein.
6. Using Bee Guards for Hummingbird Feeders
Making the feeding holes of the feeder smaller through which the bees and wasps cannot enter in any way possible.
This will only allow the bird’s tongue or beak to pass through and is quite a thoughtful method of bee proofing the feeder.
7. Stop leakage
As already emphasized in one of the earlier segments, messy or leaking feeders can lead to unwanted insect attacks.
To avoid that, never fill your feeder completely with nectar. This will cause dripping of the same on the ground encouraging ants to invade. It will also seek the attention of bees and wasps.
8. Using Decoys and Repellents
Although it is not a natural process of keeping insects away from feeders if you are having a serious infestation of bees and wasps then it is the right route to follow.
Insects generally fear birds or animals. Therefore, you can keep decoys of birds in order to scare them.
You can moreover use various insect repellent sprays. But remember to spray in a safe manner as such insecticides may have harmful effects on the birds too.
9. Use Insect Traps
Using insect traps are another effective way to keep insects away. Bumblebees and wasps are extremely attracted to objects that are yellow in color, as mentioned before.
Hence, you can install yellow-colored insect traps that have sticky pads installed in them. This will trap the legs of insects right away and stop them from moving any further.
It will not hinder the birds’ movement as they can sense the nectar through their smelling ability and not by the color of the feeder.
10. Relocate or Move the Feeder Frequently
Insects such as bees, ants, and wasps prefer food sources that are easy to locate and reach. They do not possess a good memory besides.
These characteristics can be used as an advantage against them. Hummingbirds have an instinctive memory regarding the location of the nectar source.
Also, they are efficient enough to search for the same in the vicinity of a given source.
So, if you can move the feeder by just a few meters from its original location, you will be able to discourage other insect visitors to the disk or saucer hummingbird feeder.
This is one of the scientifically proven methods and if you have a yard with multiple feeding stations, you can sequentially fill them up with nectar by regular switching.
11. Getting Bee-Proof Saucer Hummingbird Feeders
The shape of the feeder might have a role to play in keeping bees and wasps away. Saucer-shaped or disk feeders, for example, position nectar away from the feeding port and insects are unable to get to it, while hummingbirds with their long tongues have no trouble.
The nectar remains below the cover in a disk feeder, which probably will attract fewer bees than top-mount bottle feeders.
12. Offer Substitute Feeders
If you want to be considerate about insects, then offering substitute feeders is a good option. But do not forget to keep these feeders at a sunlit place.
If you can get a yellow feeder for insects, it will be the most appropriate alternative.
13. Alternate Homemade Repellants Ideas
Applying small amounts of cooking oil, peppermint essential oil, or mint extract around the feeding ports (on the plastic petals, or near the perches) may deter bees and other insects from invading the feeder.
However, this home remedy will not drive all of them away though.
IMP NOTE: Not even a single drop should get mixed with the nectar inside.
14. Hang Feeders with Fishing Line
The fishing line is too thin for ants to climb, which means they won’t be able to reach your hummingbird feeders for a free meal.
I hope you got a few ideas today that will help you keep the bees off the hummingbird feeders in your backyard.
Hopefully, these will keep other insects and ants away, decreasing your hassle of feeding birds while avoiding the invasion of insects at the same time.