Honey bees taking over hummingbird feeders

Asked July 30, 2018, 2:52 PM EDT

Honey bees have taken over my hummingbird feeders. Why are they doing this and how do I stop them.

Linn County Oregon hummingbirds honeybees

3 Responses

Another Expert (who also specializes in bees) recently answered the same question from another person recently. The following is his response:

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"Honey bees typically don't like to eat syrup that is not supplied by a flower. But they will take syrup when there is not a lot else to eat. The natural flower nectar flow in Oregon starts to dry up around now and hungry honey bees can start to be attracted to things like hummingbird feeders.
But other insects can also be attracted, like yellowjackets and hornets (and for different reasons - their visits increase over time because of colony growth - their colonies get pretty big later in the summer).
So the first thing is to confirm if what is visiting the feeder is a honey bee or a yellowjacket. If it is honey bees, consider planting some late summer blooming honey bee flowers, for example, Russian sage, wild bergamot, sunflowers and Salvias.
If it's yellowjackets, know that the pressure will be temporary and will abate as summer comes to a close."
-Andony Melathopoulos

I have Russian sage, butterfly bush, annual and perennial salvia among other flowering plants. The yellow jackets and wasps are raiding the feeders but are not as aggressive as the honey bees. I question if they are honey bees because they are larger and aggressive towards us.

I'm sharing a helpful response about yellow jackets from another expert:

"Yellow jackets nest in the ground, usually in old animal burrows but any underground void can be used. Yellow jacket colonies are annual and will be dying out shortly if not already. Here is a fact sheet on these insects.: http://bspm.agsci.colostate.edu/files/2013/03/Yellowjackets.pdf

This is good information that includes eradication methods, the yellow plastic baited trap is one that I personally have found useful. There are methods for inground eradication that include the use of various toxic spray applications with clear instructions on the container that is best applied after dark when they have returned to the nest."

Jack Master Gardener Diagnostician Master watershed Steward (Washington, Multnomah, and Clackamas Counties) Oregon State Extension Service Volunteer vegetable gardening, soil preparation, invasive plants, native plants Metro Master Gardener (http://metromastergardeners.org/)


If you have an obvious nest of wasps on your land, Dan Scollard based in Benton County vacuums up wasps and yellow jackets for medical use in allergy shots.

His service is free and doesn't affect any insects other than the target species.

You can learn about Dan's work and get in touch with him here:

https://sites.google.com/site/oregonwasps/home