Q: How do you keep bees out of the hummingbird feeders effectively enough that the little hummers have a chance to feed? Despite their aggressive nature, it seems that our hummers don’t want to challenge the bees. What to do?
A: Bees are seeking nectar and water for the same reasons as the hummingbirds and they both prefer actual plant nectar to sugar water if they can get it. I recommend providing a variety of flowering plants for the bees to distract them from your feeders. Hummingbirds prefer flowers that are tubular in shape but bees can’t access the nectar in these because they lack the long tongues of hummingbirds. Bees would more likely be found on plants that have a wide-open bloom with a place for them to land and access the nectar and pollen up close. Sunflowers are an example of the shape they prefer.
Peter L. Warren is the urban horticulture agent for the Pima County Cooperative Extension and the University of Arizona. Questions and photos may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.