do bird feeders attract wasps

We’re pretty sure you already know all about the birds and the bees – at least in the form of “the talk” parents have with their kids as they reach that certain age.

What you may be less familiar with is the lesson about how birds – hummingbirds, in particular –have to deal with bees, wasps and yellow jackets. These beautiful birds often compete for the same food sources, so it’s not surprising when conflict erupts between them.

Even beyond that particular issue, bugs and hummingbirds often find themselves at odds. The most obvious conflict comes from the fact that nearly every hummingbird species preys on insects! A large part of their diet revolves around the protein, fat and other nutrients derived from chowing down on the bugs they capture. In fact, some birds actually eat dozens of insects every day!

But few people realize that many bugs also gain a benefit from the hummingbirds around them. Some of them catch a meal from birds indirectly. Other insects consider the hummingbirds themselves the meal! The good news is you can actually help your feathered friends in these battles.

How do I Stop Wasps?

Prior to discussing wasp problem solving, it is important to note that although they are related, bees and wasps have very different biology and lifestyles. The sole purpose of this page is to deter Bald-faced Hornets (Dolichovespula maculata) and Yellow Jacket Wasps (Vespula species) from using bird feeders. Bees are an essential part of any backyard habitat. Many of the tiny, non-stinging bees that populate our gardens and surround our yards are essential to the ecosystem’s wellbeing. It should be mentioned that there are numerous wasp species that are enjoyable in backyard habitats and are not just nuisances at bird feeders, like Mud Dauber wasps. The Family Syrphidae contains a number of species of flower flies that mimic bees and wasps, but they are merely innocuous pollinators in our gardens. Please do not harm any beneficial insects in your garden.

Wasp Species, Photo by Kristen Martyn

Bees and wasps differ greatly in appearance and behavior. Generally speaking, bees are large, round-bodied insects with hairy bodies and legs. Bees don’t usually prey on other insects; instead, they are non-aggressive and eat pollen and nectar. Wasps, on the other hand, have smooth bodies and legs with thin, cylindrical body parts. A crucial feature of wasps is the constricted intersection of their abdomen and thorax. They can be very aggressive and usually live in papery nests. Wasps and hornets prey on other insects.

Usually, the late summer and early fall seasons are when Yellow Jackets and Bald-faced Hornets start to cause problems at bird feeders. Normal food supplies for wasps and hornets are scarce in the late summer and early fall, and their populations are extremely high. Bald-faced hornets and yellow jackets will forage for alternative food sources, which causes serious conflicts with human activity. Carbonated drinks, juices, candies, different meats, cakes, fruit, vegetables, ice cream, and of course bird food all draw them in. Generally, sticky and sweet bird foods like nectar (for hummingbirds, orioles, and butterflies), BirdBerry Jelly (for orioles), and fruit are preferred by Yellow Jackets and Bald-faced Hornets. They occasionally might eat suet and be a little more adventurous, but usually the flavors are ones that have fruit in them. The fact that Yellow Jackets and Bald-faced Hornets scare off a lot of birds due to their extremely aggressive nature is the most annoying thing about them visiting feeders.

Even though yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets can be quite frightening, there are effective ways to deal with their visits to your bird feeders.

Please be aware that all of the information about our products on our website is intended solely for informative purposes. Please visit our store in Barrie (515 Bryne Drive, Barrie, ON) for more information about prices and shipping (within Canada only), or contact us by phone at (705) 726-7600 or via email at [email protected].

Wasps at Hummingbird Feeders

When people refer to “bees” on their hummingbird feeders, they typically mean an army of wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets that are invading their space. For the sake of this conversation, be aware that the recommendations listed below apply to all three

These insects are a real nuisance at feeders. These animals aren’t known to play a major role in plant pollination, unlike bees. They are also capable of acting aggressively toward humans and hummingbirds.

Try these suggestions to get rid of an annoying wasp colony near a hummingbird feeder:

  • Capture wasps. Install a wasp trap to divert their attention from the feeder.
  • Keep things clean. Limit wasp, hornet and yellow jacket attractants. Before placing your recyclables in their designated bin, seal your trash cans and give them a good rinse.
  • Relocate feeders. After taking down the feeder for a few days, hang it up once more in a slightly different spot. These insects lack the intelligence to search for food in a different location.
  • Limit opportunities. Keep your feeders clean and limit leaks. Bee Guards, which prevent wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets from accessing the nectar, are a common feature on feeders.

Bees at Hummingbird Feeders

Bees are an exception to the general consensus that wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets are undesirable visitors to a hummingbird feeder. These insects pollinate flowers, trees, and vegetables, which is a true benefit to the ecosystem. Without them, it would be impossible to grow crops.

It’s also important to keep in mind that scientists are very concerned about the long-term survival of honey bees due to the dramatic decline in their population. In conclusion, honey bees are not as violent as wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets.

Given everything, it is preferable to discourage bees as opposed to attempting to eradicate them. All you need to do is force them to locate an alternative food source. Here are some suggestions:

  • Watch for leaks. Eliminate any leaks in the hummingbird feeder. There are less opportunities for bees to visit areas with fewer leaks. An alternative is a Top-Fill Hummingbird Feeder, which comes with upgraded leak-proof gaskets (along with organic bee guards).
  • Be a gatekeeper. Use feeders with Bee Guards. These little cages let hummingbirds access their nectar while keeping bees at bay.
  • Confuse them. Take down your feeders for a few days, then move them somewhere else. This causes their memory of the feeders’ locations to be disrupted, so it might take some time for them to locate them again.
  • New mixture. By adding more water to your hummingbird nectar, you can lower its sugar content. Bees will depart if the nectar loses its appeal to them. Your hummingbirds will remain because they have a far longer memory!


Do bird feeders attract yellow jackets?

Typically Yellow Jackets and Bald-faced Hornets only begin to become a problem at bird feeders in the late summer and early fall. In late summer and fall, normal food materials for wasps and hornets are in short supply and populations of these animals is very high.

What food attracts wasps the most?

They are attracted to fruits, open juice or soda bottles, honey, jam, desserts, and other sweet foods. Wasp’s love for sugar is down to the fact that yellow jacket larvae secrete a sugary substance that worker wasps consume. This substance is the primary source of sugar that adult wasps eat during the summer.

Do hummingbird feeders attract wasps?

Simple, Safe Tips. Each fall, people are concerned about bees and wasps competing with hummingbirds at feeders. While some hummers feed in harmony with these insects, many end up fighting hornets, honeybees, and yellow jackets. The most common are bees, wasps, and ants.