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Wondering if your friendly backyard hummingbirds will eat the wasps and bees in your yard?
It’s fairly common knowledge that hummingbirds require both nectar and insects for nourishment. The sugary nectar gives them the energy needed to keep up their active lifestyle. The insects provide them with a source of protein and many essential vitamins and minerals.
Since bees and hummingbirds are both attracted to nectar-producing flowers it would make sense that hummingbirds prey on bees – they would be able to get their nectar and their protein in one fell swoop.
However, the answer is not so simple.
Do Hummingbirds Eat Bees?
While it’s true that hummingbirds and bees compete for the same nectar, there’s no evidence that suggests that hummingbirds eat bees.
Hummingbirds have been observed chasing bees away from feeders or flowers and the more timid species of hummingbirds will even stay away from bees, but never has a hummingbird been observed catching a bee in its beak. In fact, given the size of a hummingbirds bill, it would be a near impossible feat.
Bees are rarely aggressive, which is just another reason that hummingbirds will for the most part leave them alone.
So no, while hummingbirds will prey on smaller insects, hummingbirds do not eat bees.
But what about the more aggressive wasp?
Do Hummingbirds Eat Wasps?
Hornets, wasps, and Yellowjackets are also attracted to hummingbird feeders. And while they are insects, hummingbirds do not eat wasps or any type of hornet. They are much too big and aggressive for hummingbirds to consider them a part of a nutritious meal.
However, because they wasps can be aggressive, they often get in fights. People have observed hummingbirds killing wasps and vice versa. But a hummingbird will not go after a hornet, Yellowjacket, or wasp for a meal.
However, attracting more hummingbirds to your yard can reduce the population of wasps in your area. Hummingbirds and wasps both eat smaller insects. The more hummingbirds, the less small insects for wasps to be attracted to.
What Kind of Insects do Hummingbirds Eat?
So if hummingbirds don’t eat wasps or bees, what kind of insects do they eat?
Early on, ornithologists believed that hummingbirds only ate insects. This theory arose because they dissected a bunch of dead hummingbirds and found only insect remains in their stomachs.
So kind of insects did the hummingbirds eat? They found the remains of smaller insects such as flies, gnats, aphids, beetles, leafhoppers and spiders in the stomachs of the hummingbirds.