The presence of yellow jackets at bird feeders can be a notable concern for bird enthusiasts. This situation often arises due to the sugary syrup used in hummingbird feeders, which, while intended as a supplement for hummingbirds, also attracts bees and wasps such as yellow jackets. In the following sections, we delve into why these feeders attract yellow jackets and offer practical advice on managing and reducing their presence, ensuring a safe and enjoyable bird-watching experience.

Hummingbird Feeder

Why Your Bird Feeder Attracts Yellow Jackets

Nectar flowers are essential for many bee species and hummingbirds. They are potent energy sources for many animals. Dr. Tracy Ellis, an entomologist, explains that the sugary syrup in hummingbird feeders is just a supplement to their natural diet. Similarly, Charles van Rees, a conservation scientist, notes that bees and wasps, while primarily nectar feeders, also seek out sugary solutions. That's the reason why hummingbird feeders, with their sugary syrup, often unintentionally attract yellow jackets.

When to Manage Wasps at Feeders

It's natural to see one or two buzzing around your hummingbird feeders, according to conservation scientist Charles van Rees. These occasional visitors are just part of the vibrant outdoor ecosystem. However, it's crucial to remain vigilant. When the number of these insects noticeably increases, it can transform from a minor occurrence into a potential safety concern.
This article aims to provide you with informative and practical tips to reduce the presence of yellow jackets and other unwelcome insects near your feeders. By implementing these strategies, you can enjoy the beauty of hummingbirds without the concern of an overwhelming number of bees and wasps in your garden.

How to Keep Yellow Jackets Away from Bird Feeders

Maintaining a peaceful and enjoyable birdwatching experience involves not only attracting the birds you love but also deterring unwanted guests like yellow jackets. Following are three types of effective strategies to keep these insects away from your bird feeders.

Implementing Obstacle Devices

  1. Use a Bee Guard or Bee Moat: As recommended by Dr. Ellis, bee guards or bee moats are effective at deterring bees and wasps, ensuring that only hummingbirds can access the nectar. This simple addition to your feeder can significantly reduce the number of unwanted visitors, making your garden more hummingbird-friendly.
  2. Nectar Guard Tips: These specialized tips are designed to prevent insects from reaching the nectar while still allowing hummingbirds to feed.
  3. Consider Vinegar Sprays: Although not a universally accepted method, using vinegar sprays or other similar solutions around your feeders can act as a deterrent for insects. This method should be used cautiously, as the smell might also affect hummingbirds.

Keeping Feeders Bee-Free Through Care

  1. Periodically Move Feeders: Regularly changing the location of your feeders by just a few feet can effectively confuse insects and make it harder for them to locate the feeder, while birds will still find them with ease.
  2. Clean the Feeder Frequently: Dr. Ellis underscores the importance of cleanliness. Regularly cleaning your hummingbird feeders prevents mold growth and reduces the appeal for insects. A clean feeder is not just healthy for hummingbirds but also less attractive to unwanted guests.Discover easy steps in our blog How to Clean Bird Feeders guide.
  3. Reduce Sugary Residues: Ensuring that you fill the feeders without spilling and maintaining them in a clean state can greatly minimize the attraction for insects.

Alternative Strategies to Keep Bees Occupied

  1. Place Fake Wasp Nests: Using fake wasp nests can effectively exploit the territorial nature of wasps, deterring them from setting up near your feeders. It's a non-intrusive and clever way to keep your feeding area wasp-free.
  2. Provide Water Sources for Bees: By offering alternative water sources like muddy puddles or birdbaths, you can divert bees and other insects away from your hummingbird feeders.
  3. Grow a Pollinator Garden: Planting a garden that attracts bees with flowers like mints, lavender, coneflower, and sunflowers can be an effective way to draw them away from your feeders.
January 25, 2024 — Lucy Guo


Louise said:

If you spray original skin so soft from Avon on the hummingbird feeder bees will stay away and it doesn’t bother the birds, I have use thi for several years, Hope it helps you

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