The same sugar solution that attracts your Hummingbirds
will also be attractive to ants, bees and wasps. Not only will they drink, they
will also contaminate the nectar and sometimes even keep the Hummingbirds from
using the feeder. AntsÂ getting inside the feeder will drown and
contaminate the nectar as their bodies decompose.
As for bees and wasps …..Â I have seen bees and
wasps at my feeder so thick that the Hummingbirds couldn’t feed at all. Thumping
them with a rolled up newspaper seemed to help a little, but every time I
thumped one, it wasn’t long before it was replaced by another. Besides being a
little too risky …. after a while it begins to take a toll on your feeder! So,
let’s examine some alternative possibilities to controlling pests at your
- Keep the ants from finding your Hummingbird feeder
….. Using a drip less feeder is one way to help keep the ants from
locating your Hummingbird feeder. Bottle-type feeders have a tendency to drip. When the
air that’s trapped above the nectar heats up, it expands and forces the nectar
out through the feed ports. Basin or saucer type feeders are designed so that
they are less likely to drip.
- Keep the ants away from the Hummingbird nectar
….. okay, the ants have found your feeder …. go to plan b ….. The best
way to keep ants away fromÂ the nectar is to use some sort of “ant
guard”. An ant guard is a barrier that’s placed between the ants and the
Hummingbird nectar. These aunt guards are built into some feeders in the form of an ant
moat that can be filled with water to keep the ants away from the nectar. But
they can also be purchase separately and added to a feeder. They usually
consist of a plastic cup about 3 inches in diameter that fits tightly around
the hanger wire above the feeder. Once the cup is filled with water the ants
can’t get to the nectar.
You can also make your own ant moat using the plastic
cap from a spray can. Punch or drill a hole in the cap to run the feeder hanger
wire through, then use hot glue or silicone sealant to seal the hole and make
the lid water proof so you can fill it with water.
Â Controlling bees and wasps
- Buy a feeder with bee guards. Some
Hummingbird feeders come equipped with plastic mesh bee guards. Unfortunately,
a lot of these Hummingbird feeders will also be prone to dripping which will undermine the
effectiveness of the bee guards.
- Try moving the feeder. Sometimes just
moving the Hummingbird feeder a few feet will trick the insects into thinking that it’s
gone and they won’t find it. If your insects happen to be too smart to fall
for this one….. try taking the feeder down for a day or two until they quit
looking for it. The Hummingbirds won’t give up as quick as the insects, so
once you hang it back up the Hummingbirds will find it again.
- Give the insects their own feeder.
Personally, I would rather go back to thumping them with a rolled up newspaper
before I conceded and tried this trick, but it’s a technique used effectively
by lots of people, so I thought it appropriate to mention here. You will need
two Hummingbird feeders, one for the bees and wasps and one for the Hummingbirds. Bees and
wasps are more attracted to higher concentrations of sugar, so in their feeder
use a nectar ratio of 1 part sugar to 3 parts water. In the Hummingbirds
feeder, instead of using the standard 1 to 4 ratio,Â use a ratio of 1
part sugar to 5 parts water. This ratio although not as sweet as the 1 to 4,
will still be good enough for the Hummingbirds , but not nearly as attractive
to the bees and wasps as the feeder with the 1 to 3 ratio. Give the bees and
wasps a few hours to attach themselves to their feeder then move it away from
the Hummingbird feeder and hope they follow.
- Buy a basin or saucer-type Hummingbird feeder.
These type feeders are pretty much drip proof, so they’re not as likely to
attract insects in the first place. Also, the nectar level will be lower and
out of reach to the insects, but not out of reach to the Hummingbirds with
their long tongues. My favorite basin-type feeder is
It’s kind of expensive, but has several features that might warrant a
high price. The HummZinger has patented Nectar guard tips which are flexible
membranes attached to the feed ports that prohibit entry from flying insects,
but allow Hummingbirds to feed as usual. The HummZinger also has a built in
ant moat that will stop crawling insects from getting to the nectar. This
Hummingbird feeder can solve your ant, bee and wasp problems all at the same
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