Saturday, March 3, 2012

Problem of Bees at the Hummingbird Feeder

I've been having the problem of too many bees coming to my hummingbird feeder. I find the bees to be non-aggressive, but nevertheless, when the bees become overwhelming they are a nuisance. After all I'm putting the feeder out for the hummingbirds and not the bees. I researched this problem a bit on the internet, but I've found the solutions offered unsatisfactory. Since I have discovered what I consider to be the ideal solution, I am offering it here. As far as I know it is not at all offered by anyone else on the internet or else where.

One of the offered solutions suggest diluting the sugar solution which I'm sure the hummingbirds don't really like. Another solution offered is putting some sort of oil on the feeder, which is objected to because the hummingbirds' delicate wings could be harmed in they come in contact with oil. The final solution is buying a special feeder that prevents the bees from accessing the feed but still allowing the hummingbirds. But I like my feeder, and don't really want to buy a new one. Still others have suggested leaving alternate feed to distract the bees from the feeder.

My solution comes from observing the bees and incidentally making friends with them. One observation is that the bees only come on sunny days. This may have something to do with the fact that the bees navigate by the position of the sun. Also, at least in my case the bees seem to come in the fall and winter, perhaps because there are few flowering plans for them to collect pollen from during those seasons. So, the bee problem is not, to begin with, an everyday problem. Also, I've noticed that even on the sunny days, the bees don't seem to really congregate until late in the afternoon. This maybe due to the positioning of my feeder, which doesn't get direct sunlight until that time. So, what to do on the days that the bees are too populous and need to be dealt with? It is at those times I take the feeder away, gently brushing the bees off.

I'm always very kind to the bees and I've never been stung. Unless in the rare case that you have killer bees (in which case you should call authorities), the bees will allow you to gently brush them off the feeder. I walk with the feeder while brushing them off with my fingertips. Walking with the feeder while I do this seems to disorient them just a bit so that they don't just come back onto the feeder. After making sure all bees are off the feeder, including underneath, I take it inside. There are lots of bees flying a round at this point for a while, hoping the feeder will come back, I suppose. After an hour or so, or at least as it gets closer to sundown, the bees will have most all disappeared. I like to return the feeder before sunset, if I can, to allow the hummingbirds to feed before evening.

You might think that this is not a solution, because you don't want to have to remove the feeder at all. But what I have found is that after a few days of this the bees do not come back in the same numbers again. It is as if the bees, which I believe to be a very intelligent species anyway, learn that if they over-do it, they lose the feeder. They seem to learn that there are limits and don't come back in the same numbers as before. I still allow a small number of bees at the feeder as long as they are not interfering with the hummingbirds much. But I think a few bees are acceptable, and this offers a very balanced solution to the problem. In fact, I feel very happy with the results so far.