Backyard Feeders: The Basics

I admit it freely. I am a novice with wasp feeders.

I understand the basics, of course. When you consider all the steps involved, there’s really quite a lot to learn:

  • Dissolve one part sugar in three parts water. (Some swear by bringing the solution to a boil and I can attest that this method works fine, although I can’t swear that it’s necessary.)
  • Remove the feeder from its hanging hook, as placed by the property owner.
  • Unscrew the feeding ledge from the sugar-water reservoir upside down over a sink.
  • Dump out any old sugar water.
  • Rinse the feeder out and off.
  • Fill the empty reservoir with fresh sugar water. If you boiled the water, cool it first.
  • Screw the feeding ledge back on.
  • Invert (revert?), re-hang feeder, and step back smartly. Wasps are pretty quick to the trough and don’t take kindly to being blocked.

I’ve heard that advanced practitioners seed adjacent lawn areas with grubs, to serve as additional wasp food. Some even set up tiny insect-chopping tables for adult wasps to process their insect prey into suitable food for their young. Maybe next year.

Above all, I have learned not to add red dye to the sugar-water solution. It’s true that it’s more attractive to the human eye but it’s not good for the wasps. It can also attract unwelcome pests, like hummingbirds, to your wasp feeder.


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10 Responses to Backyard Feeders: The Basics

  1. Dorothy Warren says:

    And you are feeding the wasps because???? You want to have wasp-free a la carte dining? We usually just do this in the spring to try to catch the queen.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Dorothy: 🙂 It was more an inadvertent result than a plan. By the time I noticed the wasps we were close to leaving Tempe – next year I’ll work on a way to discourage them that doesn’t also involve annoying them.

  2. Yes, who wants hummers to come to your feeder when you can have wasps, never thought of seeding my lawns with grubs.

  3. Tom Watson says:

    I’ve had two or three of those wasps back up on me a time or two. I’m not too keen on deliberately attracting them.

  4. Jim Taylor says:

    Do wasps have long tongues? Certainly, hummingbirds do.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I wouldn’t have said so (Maybe it’s curled up inside their heads?) but I guess some hummingbird feeders are better than others at making it hard for wasps to get to the nectar.

  5. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – can you identify the species of wasp for me? They look more like common bees to me as opposed to being Bumble Bees or Honey Bees.
    They definitely aren’t Yellow-jackets or Mud Wasps.
    Just wondering.

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