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Hummingbird and Butterfly Gardening: Bees running off Hummingbirds

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JimboTN
Christiana, TN

June 23, 2012
6:04 AM

Post #9176957

This is the first time I've had a problem with bees swarming my Hummingbird feeders. These new feeders this year do not have the "bee guard".
I've tried spraying PAM on the feeder and that helped a little but the bees continue to swarm the feeders and I've seen them running the Hummingbirds off!
I've also had the Finches trying to command the feeders and cutting off the foot rail and spraying PAM seemed to take care of them. (They have their own feeders)

Any other ideas? Don't want to eliminate the bees, they're too beneficial, just don't want to lose my Hummingbirds.

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

July 10, 2012
7:53 PM

Post #9201030

I wonder if you have a hive REALLY close and don't know it?
Have you tried scattering the feeders around farther apart and see if you can get them to leave at least one alone?
Also, I've heard that bees need to drink water - maybe a shallow pan of water for the bees away from the house?
Just guessing here - I've never heard of honey bees chasing off Hummers either.

Sheila_FW

Sheila_FW
Fort Worth, TX
(Zone 8a)

July 12, 2012
6:27 AM

Post #9202489

I have had a very slow leak in a feeder before that drew a huge amout of bees causing the hummers to ignore that feeder. Try multiple feeders and see if that is the problem. I have also had a lot of them land in the fish pond on lily pads to take in water when everything is dry.
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

August 6, 2012
8:14 AM

Post #9231484

I am having a terrible problem with honey bees, bumble bees and wasps taking over my feeders and running off the hummers. I don't want to spray them with something like Raid because I don't want to kill the bees, but would love to get rid of them and the wasps. I had never heard about putting PAM on the feeders. How is this done and how does it help.

I have 8 feeders with perches scattered all around my pool/deck area. It is probably a 36' x 50' area. Short of taking down the feeders, any suggestion to getting rid of the bees and wasps???? I've never had honey bees before and now they are all over!
tommyr2006
Poughkeepsie, NY

August 19, 2012
6:52 AM

Post #9246377

I usually have problems with ANTS on or near my feeder. I had to take mine down earlier due to red ants all over the area.
nutsaboutnature
Algonquin, IL
(Zone 5a)

August 19, 2012
9:12 PM

Post #9247130

I read recently that toilet bowl deoderizer (the type you would hang inside the toilet bowl) has a scent that wasps hate. I haven't tried it yet since right now I'm not having a problem with them. I don't know whether it also works for bees. The suggestion is to hang it near where they congregate. I would probably first try it out on just one feeder to see if it works.

An ant moat should take care of ants. If you don't want to buy one, check online for homemade ant moats. I've found different designs over the years. Also, some feeders have built-in moats.

There's also something else for ants that works very well for me since my hummer feeders hang on shepherd's hooks...I wrap a piece of black electrical tape or duct tape around the upright part of the shepherd's hook (the electrical tape blends better). Then I rub a little "Tree Tanglefoot" on the tape using something like a popsicle stick or Q-Tip. Put it down low, away from the feeders so the hummers don't get the sticky on their feathers. Best is closer to the ground, but not so close that little animals or ground birds bump into it...maybe a couple of feet or more from the ground.

Tree Tanglefoot is available at any nursery. It's totally non-toxic, but very, very sticky. It's normally spread on some special cloth that's wrapped around the trunk of fruit trees. Buy the smallest tube you can. It lasts forever...I've had a tube for over 10 years!

You can also make a kind of "hood" or "hat" to cover the sticky part with a clear plastic or styrofoam cup. Cut a hole in the top and a slot up the side and slip it over the shepherd's hook. You might need to tape the slit closed to hold it in place. That way birds and critters can't bump into it. One application usually lasts most or all of the Summer. Some of the ants will get stuck, but most will avoid it entirely.

vitrsna

vitrsna
Colima
Mexico
(Zone 11)

August 19, 2012
9:41 PM

Post #9247152

I don't know what kind of red ants you have tommyr but i tried a moat around my lime tree and the red ants i have here can swim...that moat didn't slow them down at all. They will also walk on top of the ants in the water so they don't have to get their feet wet. I also tried sprinkling cinnamon around. Ants are averse to cinnamon but unless it is dumped right on top of them they just plow through it with apparently no problem.
Red ants are very persistent. I hand squish lots of them and they are not stupid...after awhile they move on to some environment less hostile. I also use a solution of water, dish soap, and canela oil to kill the red ants...it works great but i am careful to make sure other creatures (like butterflies and bees) are not around...i spray each ant or group spray if there are many of them in one place. I have heard about wasp traps. Evidently the traps are non-toxic and specific to wasps. They are not available to me here but i am going to do an internet search and maybe learn how to make them. Has anyone tried them? How did they work?
tlm1
Jacksonville, FL
(Zone 9a)

August 20, 2012
4:31 AM

Post #9247252

I've not had experience with the red ants, but recently I watched with amazement as an "army" of ants become distracted on their way up to my Humming bird feeder, by my Nepenthes, which is hanging very close by. They seemed to really enjoy the Nepenthes, and I'm sure the Nepenthes is enjoying them too! It must have worked, because I've not seen ants on the feeder.
tommyr2006
Poughkeepsie, NY

August 20, 2012
2:50 PM

Post #9248039

Ahh yes, ants do love Nepenthes nectar!

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

August 21, 2012
7:11 PM

Post #9249519

Ants - I have problems with wind here which causes most feeders to drip (or dump on bad days) and that really attracts ants. I try to hang feeders out of the wind or mount them solid on posts. Fewer ants, but if & when they do find the way to the feeder they mark a path to it. I put some vasaline across or around their path, & that helps.

Wasps - I have an oriole feeder. Early season it feeds the orioles - later in the season it turns into a wasp/bee trap. The greedy things crawl in through the larger holes and then can't get back out and usually drown. I don't want to kill bees, so if I start getting more bees than wasps in it, I take it down. It doen't need as concentrated a nectar as the Hummer feeders, maybe 8:1 instead of 4:1 for wasps.

I suggest buying a wasp trap, but I have made a simple one: Take a plastic soda pop or water bottle. Cut the top 1/3 off and turn it upside down and put it in the bottom 2/3. If the edges happen to snap together, great - otherwise seal it with duct tape or something. Put smelly bait inside - wasps will find their way in the funnel-like top but have trouble finding their way out. I use chunks of apple in apple juice (the juice keeps it moist and smelly) - the recommended bait is meat, which is too smelly for me. Meat will attract wasps not bees, over-ripe fruit will attract all sorts of insects that like that sweet smell. One advantage of purchased traps is that they have a bait that wasps can smell but is less noticible to people - the shape is better, too.

Leaving over-ripe fruit laying around under your fruit trees attracts wasps - it helps to keep it cleaned up.
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

August 22, 2012
3:03 PM

Post #9250383

Great information here folks. When I went to reload my HB feeders the other day, when I detached to bottom of the feeding part and took it apart, it was FULL of honey bees. I just HATED to see all those dead bees! I've never had this problem with bees before. I've looked around and don't see any hives on any of the neighbors properties (I'm in the country, but in an edition, where everyone has to have at least 3 acres of property) so the houses are farther apart than in town. My neighbor across the "street" has 18 acres.

pollengarden, I'm going to have to try your homemade wasp trap. Where do you put it in reference to where your HB feeder is?

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

August 25, 2012
4:55 PM

Post #9253661

Crit: Good question - I wasn't having a problem with bees in hummer feeders, I was having a problem with wasps eating my Swallowtail caterpillars. I would try on the ground under the feeder unless that is bringing them into an area where people hang out.

Bee Hive - check your attic?
koshki
Grosse Pointe Shores, MI
(Zone 6a)

August 29, 2012
7:15 AM

Post #9258030

I too am having problems with honey bees.

But I have lucked into a solution for the wasps. For the past two years they have been commandeering my Oriole jelly feeder. I bought one of those three stage traps, which caught zero wasps. But we moved the feeder (apparently wasps don't adjust to change that quickly), and then put a glob of jelly in the top chamber of the trap. It has been working very well, and I notice a marked decrease in the wasps (the pile of dead ones inside is getting big).

For ants, I've used both granular and spray Home Defense repellant at the base of the feeder supports and that has made a big difference.

kittriana

kittriana
Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

September 11, 2012
2:56 PM

Post #9272219

For bees, plant basils- like spicy globe basil- they prefer it to feeders usually, dunno about the birds- bird netting?
scarletbean
Newport, TN
(Zone 7a)

April 9, 2013
10:33 AM

Post #9477563

Last year I had a big bee problem on one of my hummer feeders. One day i looked and it was just covered in bees. I sprayed them with water a few times, but they just came right back. I like having bees, but they were taking over! I moved that feeder and within a day or 2 they had discovered the catnip and anise hyssop flowers so i put the feeder back up. A few bees checked itg out, but they didnt swarm all over it like before.
Also, a slow leak is a bee invitation, wasps too. Moats work well for my black ant problems.
I just got my hummer feeders up for this year, so we will see what happens. I cannot wait to see my first hummingbird of the year!

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