One of the most frequent questions I have seen about hummingbird feeding is how to keep bees away from the feeder. Lots of hummingbird enthusiasts report terrible problems with bees at their hummingbird feeders, chasing off the hummers and often resulting in the drowning of many bees that get inside the feeders.
I know how frustrating this can be as I experienced the same problems last year. I moved my feeders around my yard, from the back to the front, and as distant as possible from my sunflower garden where lots of bees hang out. While the bees would stay off the feeders for a up to a day or two, they would soon find the feeders. The bees would gather in such large numbers that the hummers would not come around them. And some bees would find their way inside and drown, which I also found intolerable as I was doing what I could to support and encourage bees due to the crisis in bees.
Though there are websites and individuals who recommend using olive oil, cooking spray, petroleum jelly or similar substances around feeding ports or on the poles or chains, these substances can be harmful to hummingbirds if any gets on their feathers.
I did some research and read on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website that saucer-type feeders are “fairly bee-and wasp-proof.” So I went shopping and found that this type of feeder keeps the sugar water below the feeding ports so it seemed logical that the bees might not get to it.
I got the one shown in these photos and as shown, I have it hanging right next to my sunflower garden where many bees come to feed on the nectar in the sunflower flowers. I am careful to keep from spilling any of the sugar water on the feeder when I fill it, and if I do I rinse it right off. I haven’t seen any bees, or wasps, on or even hanging around my saucer-type feeder!
As the sugar water is below the feeder ports, the hummers just stick their very long tongues through the port into the bowl to slurp it up. Neither bees nor wasps would be able to access the sugar water as they do not have long tongues or proboscis like butterflies or sphinx moths.
And these saucer-type feeders are simple: a saucer bowl, a lid and a support rod that secures the bowl and lid plus functions as the hanger. In addition to being bee and wasp free, these saucer-type feeders do not leak like some of the bottle or tube feeders do and this helps reduce their being attractive to not only bees and wasps but to ants.
This is such a simple but effective solution. So if your feeders have more bees or wasps than hummingbirds, this may just what you want.
Have you tried a saucer-type hummingbird feeder?
If so, have you had any problems with bees or wasps on your saucer-type feeder?