Do Hummingbirds Eat Bees - Complete Guide 2024

Hammad Tariq

· 10 min read
Do Hummingbirds Eat Bees

A hummer might eat a bee. The main things that hummingbirds eat are flower juice and small insects like mosquitoes, gnats, and aphids. Bees are not known to be their primary source of food. Hummingbirds have long, thin bills and tongues designed to get nectar from flowers. They depend on this high-energy food to keep their fast metabolism going.

While there have been occasional observations of hummingbirds catching and eating bees, these are rare and likely opportunistic behaviours rather than a regular part of their diet. Bees are not a significant component of a hummingbird's diet, and they generally prefer to focus on nectar-rich flowers for sustenance.

The Relationship Between Hummingbirds and Bees

Bees and hummingbirds have an interesting ecological relationship called mutualism, in which both species gain. While their lifestyles and feeding habits differ, they often overlap in using floral resources.

Hummingbirds are attracted to brightly coloured, nectar-rich flowers, using their long, slender bills to extract nectar. In doing so, they inadvertently pick up pollen from the flower's stamens, facilitating pollination as they move from bloom to bloom.

Bees, on the other hand, collect pollen to feed their larvae and produce honey. Bees move pollen from one flower to another as they collect it. This helps flowers become fertilised and cross-pollinated.

This symbiotic relationship is crucial for the reproduction of many flowering plants, ensuring genetic diversity and the production of seeds and fruits. While competition for floral resources may occur between hummingbirds and bees, their complementary roles in pollination contribute to the health and biodiversity of ecosystems.

Evidence of Hummingbirds Eating Bees

While hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar from flowers, there have been instances where they have been observed consuming bees. But these things don't happen often; they usually only do when there aren't many other food sources.

Hummingbirds have a highly specialised diet adapted for nectar feeding, with their long, slender bills and specialised tongues designed for accessing flower nectar. Their primary food source is floral nectar, which provides the necessary energy for their high metabolic rates.

In contrast, bees are not a typical part of their diet. They may catch bees close to flowers they're eating, or that can't move because of their surroundings. While these interactions may occur, they are not familiar or significant enough to classify hummingbirds as regular consumers of bees. Hummingbirds get most of their food from flower nectar, and how they eat is essential for breeding and keeping ecosystems healthy.

Behavioural Observations: Hummingbirds Hunting Bees

According to some reports, hummingbirds sometimes hunt bees, even though they are mostly known for eating flower nectar. These behavioural observations are intriguing but relatively rare. Hummingbirds have been seen hunting bees, which has been noticed by researchers and birdwatchers.

This behaviour typically involves the hummingbird actively pursuing and capturing a bee in flight. However, such occurrences are sporadic and not well-documented compared to their typical feeding habits. Hummingbirds have a highly specialised diet adapted for nectar consumption, relying on their long bills and specialised tongues to extract nectar from flowers.

Their primary food source is floral nectar, which provides them the energy needed for their high metabolic rates. While hunting bees may offer an alternative food source, it is not an expected behaviour observed in hummingbirds.

Instances of Hummingbirds Feeding on Bees

Sometimes hummingbirds have been seen eating bees, even though their primary food source is flower juice. These occurrences are relatively rare and have been documented by birdwatchers and researchers.

Observations suggest that hummingbirds may occasionally target bees as a food source, particularly during times when nectar is scarce or when other food options are limited. However, it's important to note that such instances are sporadic and not typical behaviour among hummingbirds.

It is mostly nectar that hummingbirds eat, and their bills and tongues are specially made to get nectar from flowers. Their diet is rich in sugars, providing them with the energy required for their high metabolic rates. While hunting bees may offer an alternative source of sustenance, it is not a behaviour that hummingbirds rely on regularly.

Why Would Hummingbirds Eat Bees?

While hummingbirds usually eat flower juice, they have been known to eat bees in some situations. Hummingbirds don't usually eat bees, but there are a few good reasons why they might.

One possible explanation is that hummingbirds are opportunistic feeders, and they may resort to eating bees when other food sources, such as nectar, are scarce. Hummingbirds can get protein and fats that are high in energy from bees when they can't find their usual food sources.

Additionally, hummingbirds have been observed feeding on bees during seasonal or environmental changes, such as droughts or fluctuations in flower availability. In these situations, bees may become more accessible or attractive as prey.

Also, hummingbirds are known to be territorial, and eating bees could be a way for them to eliminate possible rivals for flower resources. However, it's essential to note that while hummingbirds may occasionally consume bees, this behaviour does not represent a significant portion of their diet, and they primarily rely on nectar as their primary food source.

Potential Reasons Behind Hummingbirds Eating Bees

Hummingbirds eating bees is a rare phenomenon, but several potential reasons could explain this behaviour. One reason is the need for additional nutrients. While hummingbirds primarily feed on flower nectar, they also require protein and fats for energy and sustenance.

Because they are high in protein and fat, bees could be an extra food source for hummingbirds, especially when nectar is scarce or when they need more energy, like migrating. Another possibility is opportunistic feeding.

Hummingbirds are adaptable and opportunistic feeders, capable of exploiting various food sources when necessary. As long as bees are easy to find and catch, hummingbirds may eat them as a quick way to get food. Additionally, territorial behaviour could play a role.

Hummingbirds fiercely defend their feeding territories from intruders, including other hummingbirds and insects. By consuming bees, hummingbirds might reduce competition for nectar and establish dominance over their territory.

Potential Risks and Benefits of Bee Consumption for Hummingbirds

There are both possible risks and benefits to hummingbirds eating bees. One risk is the potential for injury. Bees have stingers, and if a hummingbird is stung, it could suffer pain or even injury, particularly in sensitive areas like the eyes or throat.

Hummingbirds, on the other hand, can quickly kill bees by cutting off their stingers and eating the bee's body, so people are less likely to get stung. Another risk is the potential ingestion of toxins. Some bee species possess venom that could be harmful if ingested by hummingbirds.

However, many bee species are not venomous, and hummingbirds might avoid those that are. As for benefits, bees are a great source of protein and fats that hummingbirds need for energy, especially when they are doing a lot of things at once, like breeding or migrating.

Impact of Bee Consumption on Hummingbirds

Source of Energy: Hummingbirds can get a lot of protein and fats from eating bees, which is essential for meeting their high energy needs, especially when active.

Nutritional Supplement: In times of scarcity or when nectar sources are limited, bees can supplement the hummingbird's diet, helping them maintain their dietary needs.

Risk of Injury: However, there is a risk associated with bee consumption, as bees have stingers that could potentially harm hummingbirds. If the hummingbird eats the stinger or poison, it could hurt itself or feel pain, especially if it is stung in a sensitive area like the eyes or throat.

Balance of Risks and Benefits: Hummingbirds must weigh the nutritional benefits of eating bees against the risks of getting hurt or eating poison from poisonous bees.


In conclusion, the connection between hummingbirds and bees is complicated and has many sides. There is proof that hummingbirds eat bees, but scientists are still trying to figure out why and what it means. Hummingbirds may gain nutritionally from eating bees, especially when they need a lot of energy, like breeding or migrating.

However, there are also potential risks associated with bee consumption, including the possibility of injury from bee stings. As researchers continue to investigate this phenomenon, it's essential to consider the delicate balance between the benefits and risks for hummingbirds. Over time, learning more about how hummingbirds and bees interact can help us learn more about the environment of birds and protect them.

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About Hammad Tariq

Hammad Tariq, the passionate founder and author of HappiestBeaks, is a dedicated bird enthusiast, caretaker, and lover. With a deep-seated affection for avian companions, he channels his expertise into crafting insightful and informative blogs on bird care and behavior.