Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hummingbirds and honey bees

On another honey bee-related topic, in the past few weeks I've had a couple of calls about honey bees driving hummingbirds away from bird feeders. I know this isn't really an issue that ranks solidly in the field of professional pest control, but think what a hero you can be to your customer if you actually know the answer to this question!

Of course honey bees don't particularly care about hummingbirds one way or another, but they will come to the sugar water that gardeners typically put in hummingbird feeders, even though the sugar water dilution commonly used in hummingbird feeders is not ideal for bees. Not enough sugar, according to beekeeper Janet Roe, who says bee food in the spring should be one part sugar, one part water.

To keep bees away from feeders, Janet suggests moving the feeders every two days or so (confuses bees who use landmarks to come back to the same site), and treating the feeder with "mentholatum or Vicks vapor rub" every couple of days. "If you just touch your finger onto the mentholatum and then touch that finger in between the feeder feeding holes you will leave a very small amount of mentholatum. That seems to work pretty well at repelling bees, when combined with every other day feeder relocation," she says.

Bee resistant hummingbird feeders are also available at stores and online. Just Google "bee resistant hummingbird feeders" or check out one commercial version at

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