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Honey Bees

October 2011

QuestionApparently someone not too far away from my home keeps bees. They descend on my hummingbird feeders and take over until the feeders are empty. Is there anything that I can do to discourage the honeybees? I used to keep bees before I moved to Arkansas, and I still love them, so would not do anything to hurt them, but they are a nuisance!


AnswerWhen the weather is dry and hot, the flowers produce little or no nectar, and honey bees become desperate for food sources. They are especially attracted to hummingbird feeders, which are essentially artificial flowers with an endless nectar supply. Some feeders have bee guards, or you can add them. These little plastic grids restrict the bees from feeding because their tongues cannot reach the nectar, unlike the hummingbirds which have long beaks and longer tongues. Older feeders may have cracks, or may leak where the jar attaches to the base. If this is the case, then the bees can still feed at the drips. Unlike hummingbirds, bees cannot drink while flying, and must land to feed. Dabbing a little bit of vegetable oil around the feeding ports may discourage bees from walking up to the spot where they can reach the syrup. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the small of almond oil is repellant to bees, and dabbing a little of that on the feeder may discourage honey bees from hanging around in the first place--but I don't know that for sure, and can't really say if it works.

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