15 Fail-Safe Ways to Keep Bees and Ants Away From Hummingbird Feeders


Hummingbirds, with their vibrant colors and delicate fluttering wings, bring joy and wonder to any garden they visit. However, hummingbird feeders can sometimes attract unwanted guests, such as bees and ants. While these insects play essential roles in ecosystems, their presence around the feeders can deter these tiny, enchanting birds. Fortunately, there are natural methods to discourage bees and ants without harming or compromising the birds’ health. Here are 15 eco-friendly ways to ward these insects off.

Choose the Right Feeder

National Audubon Society/Facebook

Opt for feeders with bee guards or built-in ant moats. Bee guards are small barriers that prevent bees from accessing the nectar, while ant moats create a water barrier that ants won’t cross. These specialized feeders provide a safe feeding environment for the birds and help maintain the balance of your garden ecosystem.

Hang Feeders Strategically

Sheena Skemp/Getty

Place the feeders where ants and bees have limited access, such as under eaves or awnings. Hanging feeders from hooks or wires can also make it difficult for ants to reach them. By strategically positioning your feeders, you can minimize the likelihood of unwanted insect visitors while still attracting hummingbirds to the garden oasis.

Create Ant Barriers

Wild Birds Unlimited (Mt. Pleasant, SC)/Facebook

Draw a cinnamon, chalk, or baby powder line around the feeder’s base. These substances act as ant repellents and create barriers ants are reluctant to cross. Additionally, consider placing the feeder on a moat or dish filled with water to deter ants from reaching the nectar.

Apply Peppermint Oil

Helin Loik-Tomson/Getty

Dropping a few drops of this essential oil on the feeder’s hanger or nearby surfaces can deter ants and bees due to its strong scent. Peppermint oil keeps pests away and adds a refreshing aroma to the garden.

Utilize Vinegar

Helin Loik-Tomson/Getty

Wipe down the feeder and surrounding area with equal parts vinegar and water. Vinegar’s scent repels ants and disrupts the pheromone trails they use to communicate. Regularly cleaning with vinegar not only deters ants but also helps maintain the feeder’s cleanliness.

Plant Repellent Herbs

Maryna laroshenko/Getty

Cultivate herbs like mint, basil, and thyme near your feeder. These aromatic plants repel ants and bees while enhancing the beauty of your patch. Additionally, herbs like mint can be harvested for culinary purposes, providing a dual benefit to the space.

Use Citrus Peels


Place citrus peels around the base of the feeder. The strong citrus scent acts as a deterrent for ants and bees. As the peels decompose, they release nutrients into the soil, enriching your garden beds.

Employ Dish Soap


A few drops of dish soap in the water in the ant moat will create a thin film on the surface, making it impossible for ants to float. Dish soap is also harmless to hummingbirds and helps maintain the moat’s cleanliness.

Install Inverted Bottle Traps


Place inverted bottles filled with sugary water near the feeder. Bees and ants will be attracted to the trap, which will keep them from the feeder. The traps should be regularly emptied and refilled to ensure their effectiveness.

Trim Vegetation


Keep surrounding vegetation well-trimmed to reduce hiding spots and pathways for ants and bees to access the feeder. Pruning bushes and trimming grass around the feeder area deters pests and enhances the garden’s aesthetic appeal.

Opt for Red Accents


Bees are less attracted to red, so add red accents or decorations near the feeder to deter them. Red ribbons, flowers, or decorative elements can help camouflage the feeder, making it less appealing to bees.

Regular Cleaning


Clean the feeder regularly to remove any leftover nectar or debris that may attract ants and bees. A clean feeder prevents pests and ensures the health and well-being of visiting hummingbirds.

Adjust Nectar Concentration

Birds & Blooms Magazine/Facebook

Reduce the sugar concentration in the nectar solution to make it less appealing to bees. Our favorite birds prefer a solution of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar, while bees prefer a solution of 3 to 1. Experiment with different sugar concentrations to find the right balance for your feeder.

Rotate Feeder Locations


Periodically move the feeder to different locations in the garden to confuse ants and disrupt their trails. Changing the feeder’s position can prevent ants from establishing pheromone trails and discourage their return.

Offer Alternative Food Sources

Przemystaw Iciak/Getty

Plant bee- and ant-friendly flowers far from the feeder to divert their attention as natural food sources keep them away from the nectar of hummingbirds. In addition to protecting the feeders, creating a diverse ecosystem in your garden can support a wide range of pollinators.


Leave a Comment