Monday, August 10, 2009

Bees vs. Hummingbirds ... Who Will Win?

Every summer, hummingbird lovers call me up asking what they can do to keep bees out of their hummingbird feeders. Truthfully, if you want to keep the feeders up, there very little you can do.

Bees love sweet stuff, so do hummingbirds, so when you feed hummingbirds you also feed bees. But, don't worry, these foraging bees aren't going to attach a hummingbird, and if you watch long enough you will notice that they almost take turns at the feeder during different times of day.

The bees are thirsty and hungry, and with our extended drought, their nectar and water sources are drying up and dying! Consider yourselves good stewards of the environment because you are helping our most important pollinators eat.

If you are concerned, simply remove the hummingbird feeder for a week or so and see if the bees find another spot to feed. I know you won't have hummingbirds for that week, but are you seeing them much when the bees are taking over? Didn't think so.
You can also try diluting the water somewhat. Yes, its not as appetizing to the hummingbirds either, but you don't have many options.

Finally, the best option is just to wait it out. After a couple weeks, those bees will probably move off to another location. A nearby colony has just found a great food source, and they are taking advantage of it.

So, who wins, bees or hummingbirds? Both - the hummingbirds will come back, the bees will not sting them to death, and the bees will eventually find another good spot to eat. Just bear with them for a while. They are suffering in this drought and heat just like everyone else.