Nectar Noshers: Do Hummingbirds Eat Bees?

Hummingbirds are such a pleasure to have in your garden. They are beautiful with their bright colors and they are also helpful pollinators.

Plants that have long and narrow spaces where the nectar is kept are a wonderful treat for these birds. 

But what else do hummingbirds eat other than sweet nectar? These birds will also eat insects, but are bees a part of their taste preferences?

Do Hummingbirds Eat Bees?

Hummingbirds and bees are competitors. Since they are both strong pollinators, they are often competing for the nectar supply in a garden or park. If you have a hummingbird feeder, you might see bees around that as well.

With these two creatures being strong competitors, it would make sense that hummingbirds would eat bees to stop surrounding competition. They would certainly have the size advantage in this battle. 

However, there isn’t any strong evidence to show that hummingbirds eat bees. In times of competition, you are more likely to see hummingbirds ignoring bees or even chasing them away.

Yet, you still won’t see a hummingbird go out of its way to eat a bee.

Why Won’t a Hummingbird Eat a Bee?

It wouldn’t be that weird if we saw a hummingbird eat a bee. They do have strong competition and many insects or creatures eat their competition to preserve resources. There are reasons that a hummingbird won’t eat a bee, though.

While they are much bigger than a bee and therefore more powerful, they still don’t have the anatomy to eat a bee. The beaks that hummingbirds have are long and narrow, nothing like the round shape that a bee. 

Their beaks would make it very difficult to eat a bee. It would simply be too much effort for the hummingbird when they can more easily find food somewhere else. 

Hummingbirds also understand that a bee will do its best to refrain from being aggressive. If a bee stings any creature, that bee will lose its stinger and die. This makes bees hesitant to use their stinger as it is only used as a last-ditch effort. 

With that, a hummingbird will try to have an agreement with the bees because if they aren’t going to be aggressive, why be aggressive back? 

What Do Hummingbirds Do with Pesky Bees Instead?

While a hummingbird won’t eat a bee that is getting annoying or stealing food, that doesn’t mean that a hummingbird will let the bee do whatever it wants.

There have been multiple occasions where people have watched as hummingbirds will chase annoying bees away from their feeders.

If you want to see what this looks like, then check out the video below! Hummingbirds will chase bees away from both hummingbird feeders and wanted flowers. 

Watching a hummingbird chase away a bee can be pretty amusing. While the hummingbird’s beak is too small to eat a pesky bee, the size of its body makes chasing off bees a very easy task. 

But What About Wasps?

Yellowjacket Wasp on Green Leaf – Source: Pixabay

So, a hummingbird won’t eat a bee with them hardly being aggressive. Wasps are a lot more aggressive, so will a hummingbird eat a wasp?

Once again, the answer is NO. A hummingbird won’t try to eat a wasp or any other kind of hornet. These pests are too aggressive for a hummingbird to mess with.

Wasps can be extremely aggressive when they are agitated and a swarm of wasps can do a ton of damage to a creature. Hummingbirds decide that it is not worth it to chase off or eat wasps as they don’t want to deal with the possibility of getting swarmed. 

The Insects That a Hummingbird Will Eat

Let’s not forget that hummingbirds will eat insects even if they aren’t bees or wasps. Hummingbirds need to eat insects along with their nectar because insects provide much of the protein and vitamins that hummingbirds need. 

There are a variety of insects that hummingbirds will make as their meal. These insects range in sizes from super tiny to as big as a roach. In the list of what insects hummingbirds will eat, you will see that many of them as pests to garden plants. 

Hummingbirds will eat ants, aphids, gnats, flies, spiders, beetles, mosquitos, and some other small pests. Many of these insects are not ones that you want to find in your yard as they can be annoying to you and your plants. 

Using strategies such as planting bright and colorful flowers and having hummingbird feeders will attract these birds into your yard to keep away small pests.

hummingbird feeders
Hummingbird feeders – Image credit:

Becoming companions with a hummingbird means that your garden will be healthier without gross creatures like gnats and mosquitos. 

Protect Your Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are amazing to have in your garden along with butterflies and dragonflies. These small birds will pollinate your garden as long as you treat them well. 

It can be tricky to get hummingbirds to trust your garden enough to be frequent visitors, but that’s why many people use hummingbird feeders to get their attention. Plant flowers that attract hummingbirds and fill your feeder with sweet nectar.

If you can get them to like your yard and build a mutual relationship, your garden will see many improvements.

Besides, hummingbirds are quite friendly once you earn their trust. They might watch you as you do gardening work and will help out in their way.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Do Hummingbird Feeders Harm Bees?

Hummingbird feeders are made specifically for hummingbirds and are sometimes made specifically to repel bees. While there aren’t any feeders that will actually harm the bee, there are many that will prevent the bee from stealing nectar.

Some hummingbird feeders have bee guards that prevent the bees from landing on the feeder and stealing sweet nectar. The shape that a feeder is can also do well to prevent bees as well.

The best shape of feeder to have for your hummingbirds is flower shaped with spaces that are small and narrow enough that only a hummingbird will be able to eat from it. 

Again, there isn’t anything on a hummingbird feeder that will harm a bee.

How do I Get Rid of Bees on My Hummingbird Feeder?

Even when you try your best, you still might see bees stealing nectar from a hummingbird feeder and taking up the space on the object. In this situation, you need to get rid of the bees to keep the hummingbirds returning to your garden.

First, make sure that your hummingbird feeder is in working condition and is clean. Many feeders are made with plastic that can end up cracking or warping in the hot sun. Periodically check your feeder to make sure there aren’t any cracks or holes that nectar can be seeping through. 

These cracks make it easier for bees to get to the nectar and they won’t be able to resist such easy access. 

Once you make sure that your hummingbird feeder is still working properly, your next step is to clean it. Clean the areas on the outside where your hummingbirds eat. There could be spilled nectar in the crevices of a feeder that can be attracting bees to it.

If you think you need to clean your feeder more thoroughly, feel free to completely clean the feeder out. You can always put new nectar in it afterward. Giving the feeder a good clean is a good reset and can help catch any spilled nectar you might’ve missed. 

After you’ve given your feeder a good cleaning and you are still seeing bees bother your hummingbirds, you might want to try confusing the bees.

Every few days, relocate the feeder to a different area of your lawn. That way, the bees will lose where the feeder has gone, and they might eventually give up on searching for it.

Do Bees Sting Hummingbirds at Feeders?

While a bee can sting a hummingbird, it is not in the best interest of the bee to do so. A bee only gets one sting in its life and using it on a hummingbird is usually not worth it.

If they can, a bee will avoid having to sting a hummingbird if they can help it. 

However, if you are having to approach a feeder with bees on it, have caution around the bees. Bees are most likely to sting when they feel like they are in a lot of danger and might perceive you approaching them as dangerous.

Final Thoughts

While hummingbirds and bees can be enemies and not appreciate each other being at the hummingbird feeder, you won’t be seeing a hummingbird munch upon a bee. To a hummingbird, bees are not worth the trouble of eating. 

Besides, hummingbirds have beaks that are not useful for eating the big and round shape of a bee. 

If you have hummingbirds in your garden, have you seen them chase around bees and compete with them for nectar? If you have, make sure to share in the comments.

Also, put down tips for keeping bees from bothering hummingbirds in the comments too!

About Justin Stewart

With a deep knowledge of plants, landscaping, and sustainable gardening practices, his engaging content offers practical tips, creative ideas to help you transform your backyards into thriving green havens. Get ready to unlock your backyard's full potential!

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