Hummingbird Feeder Types: Saucer vs. Vacuum Feeders
You may have noticed that I changed the type of hummingbird feeders on the webcam. This is a method to help control bees. There is a drought in Southern California, and the local bees are desperate for water. What could be better for them than a water source that is sugary to boot! The bees are using the water dishes, but there are still a few on the feeders.
Hummingbird feeders come in two basic types: saucer feeders and vacuum feeders. The saucer type is flat. You pour the nectar in the dish and snap on the lid. The nectar doesn’t come in contact with the feeder ports. Vacuum style feeders involve an inverted bottle. You pour in the nectar, screw on the base and turn it upside down. The resulting air bubble at the top creates a vacuum so the nectar doesn’t just run out of the ports. With these feeders the nectar level is very close to the ports, sometimes even coming in contact with them. These feeders are also called inverted bottle feeders.
Bees have a difficult time reaching the nectar with the saucer type feeders, but their short tongues can reach the nectar in the vacuum feeders. Some of the vacuum feeders come equipped with bee guards, which help keep the bees at a distance from the nectar level.
I utilize both types. The birds clearly prefer the vacuum feeders, as they are able to slurp up more nectar with each drink. However, if the local bees are a problem on the deck, I switch them to the saucer type until the bee problem is under control.
Whatever kind of feeder you use, the ports need to be kept clean. Even the slight amount of nectar left on the ports or the bee guards is enough food for a bee. I rinse and dry the lids to the saucer feeders a few times a day, or you would see nothing but bees on the cam! Once the bees have moved on, I will switch back to the other feeders and you will see many more birds.
Carole Studio City, California