Keeping Ants Out Of Hummingbird Feeder

Keeping Ants Out Of Hummingbird Feeder

1 May, 2010 (19:28) | hummingbird feeders | By: admin


Keeping Ants Away From A Hummingbird Feeder

Learn how to keep ants out of your hummingbird feeder, keep bees and wasps away from the feeder, how to make the best hummingbird food, when to change the nectar in the feeder, how to properly clean the feeder and much more. At the end of the article there will also be videos to show you how to hand-feed your hummingbirds. You will learn all you need to know to fully enjoy feeding your hummingbirds!

The same sugar solution which will attract your hummingbirds will also be quite appealing to ants, bees and wasps. Not only will they drink the nectar, the bees, ants and wasps will ruin the nectar and even keep the hummingbirds from using the feeder at all. Keeping ants away from the hummingbird feeder is very important  because they will get inside of the feeder, where they will drown and as a result, will contaminate the nectar as their bodies decompose.

Keeping Ants Out Of Hummingbird Feeder

One solution to the problem of how to keep ants out of a hummingbird feeder is to keep the ants from locating your Hummingbird feeder right from the start . Using the right feeder, is the best place to start. There are basically 2 types of hummingbird feeders, the inverted bottle-type feeder and the basin-type feeder. Using a drip-less feeder is one way to help to keep the ants from tracing the location of your Hummingbird feeder. Bottle-type feeders usually drip. As the nectar level in the bottle-type feeder starts to go down, an air pocket is left at the top of the feeder. As soon as the air that is trapped in the air pocket above the nectar gets hotter, it expands and forces the nectar out through the feed ports. Basin or saucer type feeders are made so they are not as likely to drip. The nectar in a basin feeder is located far below the feeding ports so expansion won’t force it out of the ports. Being below the feeding ports also helps to keep bees and wasps from reaching the nectar.

Keeping the ants from locating the feeder is a start, but there is another thing you can do to keep them from reaching the nectar if they find your feeder.

 

Okay, the ants have found your feeder …. go to plan b …..

The best way of keeping ants out of a hummingbird feeder, is by using some  type of “ant guard” or ant moat. An ant guard or ant moat is a small container that holds water. They are placed between the hanger and the feeder. The ants can’t swim, so when they reach the moat filled with water, that’s as far as the ants can go.

Some types of ant guards for hummingbird feeders, are built into the design of the feeders, but the moat/ant guards  may also be purchased separately and added to a feeder. The ant moats are usually some type of plastic cup, about 3 inches in diameter that fits on the hanger wire above the feeder. Once the ant moat is filled with water the ants cannot get to the nectar. Ant moats are usually made out of plastic but are also made out of ceramic and metal. They come in different shapes and sizes and some are attractive and add a nice touch the the appearance of your feeder. You can view different styles of ant moats here.
Below is an example of a plastic ant moat. The moat hangs on a feeder hook and the feeder is attached to the bottom of the moat. This ant moat will keep ants out of your hummingbird feeder.

Trap-It Ant Moat for Hummingbird Feeders

ant-moatProduct Description

The first and still the best way to protect your hummingbird and oriole feeder from ants and other crawling insects is to use an ant moat. Insert the moat between the hanger and the feeder and fill it with water. This will provide a barrier to crawling pests. The red color of the moat is also helpful in attracting hummingbirds to your feeder.

 

 

 

Here’s a video that shows you how to make your own homemade ant moat

 

Now you know how to keep ants out of your nectar, now you will learn some ways to keep bees and wasps off of your feeder

 

How to keep bees and wasps off of a hummingbird feeder.

There are some feeders that come with features that help keep bees and wasps away from your hummingbird nectar. You my have seen the little yellow, plastic, mesh guards that fit over the feeding ports to keep out insects. These are a lot of times found on bottle feeders that tend to leak and therefor attract bees and wasps. That helps to undermine the whole idea around keeping bees away. Furthermore, the color yellow is a color that actually attracts bees and wasps.

Other feeders have different deterrents for bees and wasps. My favorite is the  patented “Nectar Guard Tips”. These are found on the Humzinger brand of feeders. The guard tips are membranes made of flexible plastic that fit into the underside of the feeding ports. They allow the hummingbird’s long beak to go through and feed, but close up once the beak is removed, and won’t allow the insects to reach the nectar.

 

If you already have a feeder that doesn’t have any type of bee protection, there are still a few things you can try.

*try moving the feeder. Sometimes just moving the feeder a short distance will keep the bees from finding it.

*take the feeder down for a few days. Sometimes you can take down the feeder until the bees leave the area. Once you put it back up a few days later, hopefully the bees won’t come back. The hummingbirds don’t give up nearly as quickly as the bees do and should find your feeder once you hang it back up.

* some people even put out a feeder just for the bees to use. They will fill a feeder with nectar that is a lot sweeter than the feeder they have for the hummingbirds. They will use a 1 to 3 ratio of sugar to water in the bee feeder. In the hummingbird feeder they will use the standard 1 to 4 ratio of sugar to water. The bees and wasps will be attracted to this sweeter nectar and leave the hummingbird feeder alone.

 

Below is a video that shows how one man used the plastic mesh from an onion sack to bee proof his hummingbird feeder.

 

 

The easiest and best way to fix all your feeder bee, wasp and ant problems as well as all your feeder cleaning problems, is to just get a good feeder that is designed to stop all these feeder pests and prevent them from reaching the nectar. A good hummingbird feeder will do all of this and then some!

A good hummingbird feeder should have all of the following features.

* red color- a hummingbird feeder should be red to help attract the hummingbirds
* ant moat- a hummingbird feeder should have an ant moat to keep ants out of the nectar
* bee guards – a feeder should have some sort of bee protection to keep bees away from the nectar. They should not be yellow in color.
* built in perches- a hummingbird feeder should have a perch for the hummingbirds to sit on while they feed. This will help the birds to conserve energy.
* easy to clean- a feeder should be easy to take apart and easy to clean. There should be no hidden or hard to reach areas that make cleaning difficult.
* rain guard -a feeder should have raised rain guards around the feeding ports to keep rain water out of the nectar.

 

Here is the best way to keep bees, wasps and other flying insects out of your hummingbird feeder and to ant proof your hummingbird feeder…..

Aspects 12oz Humzinger Ultra With Nectar Guard hummingbird feeder

The feeder is red, and has a built-in ant moat around the base of the hanger. The ants won’t be able to reach the nectar.

The Humzinger has patented “Nectar Guard Tips” which are flexible membranes attached to the feed ports that prohibit entry from flying insects, but allow hummingbirds to feed as usual.

A built in perch goes all the way around the feeder and you can see the red, raised, flower shaped, rain guards that surround the feeding ports to keep out rain water.

This feeder has a 12 oz. capacity and comes with hardware so it can he hung or mounted on a pole. It has four feeding ports for hummingbirds and is made of unbreakable polycarbonate.

It comes apart in the middle so you will have full access to the inside. There are no hidden surfaces that will be hard to clean.

It’s my first choice in feeders for being easy to clean and for protecting the nectar from bees and wasps.

The Humzinger Ultra will solve all of your feeder problems at the same time!

 

Homemade hummingbird nectar recipe: 1 part sugar to 4 parts water

Now that you know how to beep bees and ants away from your hummingbird food, you might as well learn how to make your own nectar for your feeder. The nectar recipe only uses 2 ingredients, white granulated table sugar and water. No other sweeteners should be used as some of them can become harmful to the hummingbirds. No red food coloring is used because it is thought to be harmful to hummingbirds and it isn’t necessary anyway. A red feeder is all you need to attract hummingbirds or red ribbon attached to a feeder that isn’t red. A red ant moat to keep out ants, will also help to attract hummingbirds.

 

Hummingbird food instructions:

*add 4 cups water to a pan on your stove

*add 1 cup sugar to the water and stir to dissolve the sugar

*bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 2 minutes

*remove from the heat and cool to room temperature, then add to the feeder

*any leftover nectar can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so. If it starts to look cloudy, throw it out.

Boiling the hummingbird mixture will release the chlorine from the water and kill any impurities such as mold spores and bacteria, that might be in the sugar. Boiling will keep your nectar from fermenting as quickly once it’s added to the feeder. You won’t have to change the nectar as often. Don’t boil any longer than 2 minutes or you might boil away too much water and end up with a sweeter mixture. The 1 to 4 ratio of sugar to water will produce the same ratio as the nectar that hummingbirds drink from flower blossoms. A sweeter mixture will only be more attractive to bees and wasps.

 

Below is a video on how to make homemade hummingbird food. 

Most people do boil the nectar longer than is suggested in this video. Boiling for 2 minute is the usual.

 

When to change the nectar in the feeder

Once the nectar is in the feeder, heat from the outside air will eventually cause the sugar water to ferment. If you let it go too long, mold will start to grow in the nectar and on your feeder, making the feeder a lot harder to clean. It’s not good for the hummingbirds either, so you want to put in fresh nectar before this happens. The hotter the temperature, the sooner the nectar will have to be changed. Below is a simple chart that will give you an idea of how long the nectar might last compared to the outside temperature.

High temperatures      Change nectar after

71-75                         6 days

76-80                         5 days

81-84                         4 days

85-88                         3 days

89-92                         2 days

93+                            change daily

This will give you a rough idea, but a visual inspection of the nectar will tell you for sure. If you see that the nectar is becoming cloudy, it’s time to change it. Each time you change the nectar you should rinse the feeder out with hot water to remove all the old nectar. The National Audubon Society suggest that you clean your feeder once a week. They say to rinse the feeder out with a solution containing 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water. Then rinse the feeder 3 times with clear, warm water to remove all the vinegar solution. Now you can fill the feeder with fresh nectar.

When you perform your visual inspection of the nectar, if you should see small black spots of mold in the nectar, you know you have waited too long before changing the nectar. Now you will have to clean the feeder with a stronger solution to kill the mold and to sterilize the feeder. You will have to clean the feeder with a mild bleach solution. This bleach solution can be made by adding 1/4 cup bleach to a gallon of water. If there was any mold growing on the feeder you will have to brush it all off. This is where a set hummingbird feeder brushes will come in handy, to clean all the holes and nooks and crannies. Completely cover the feeder in the bleach solution and let it soak for 1 hour. When the feeder is done soaking, thoroughly rinse it 3 times under running water. Be sure to remove all the bleach solution so it doesn’t harm the hummingbirds.

 

Here’s a video on how to clean a hummingbird feeder

It also shows some of the hummingbird feeder brushes that can be used to make the feeder cleaning a bit easier

 

How to hand-feed hummingbirds

Here is my special video that will show you how to teach your hummingbirds to feed out of your hand.

 

Here is another method you can use if you would like to be able to hand-feed hummingbirds through a window in your home.

 

If you would like to watch my other free videos on hand-feeding different backyard birds and squirrels, click the link    Hand-feeding backyard birds and squirrels

I hope you found this article helpful. If you did, please share it using the social bookmarking buttons on the left side of this page. Pass on this knowledge and help everyone to increase their enjoyment of hummingbirds. Thank you!

Resources:

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center –hummingbird article
wikipedia –hummingbird article

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