Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An Ethical Dilemma

If you've read this blog much you know how I enjoy our little backyard wildlife preserve, including (and especially) the hummingbird feeder just outside the kitchen window. It seems to be migration time, and we were getting a lot more traffic there, so I put up a second feeder a few yards away about 10 days ago. Hummers don't like to share and all the buzzing and mid-air swordplay was distressing me. I just wanted them to chill out and eat!

But apparently hummingbirds weren't all that were passing through. The bees I'd been longing for (so I wouldn't have to hand pollinate my squash) suddenly showed up in great numbers - at the feeders. And they didn't want to share with the hummers. It was heartbreaking to watch the hummers hover over the feeders when they were unable to approach them.

I argued with myself for a couple of days over this moral dilemma: bees need food too, and surely they'd move on soon. (In years past we used to get a swarm in our big mesquite tree every April; they'd stay a couple of days, buzzing loudly and looking scary, and then disappear.) But these guys didn't move on. This photo shows what I wish could have happened, but it was a rare moment that I didn't see repeated.

Finally we took both feeders down. A couple of days ago I thought it would be safe to put them back, but the bee scouts were out and in less than an hour the feeders were buzzing. I didn't see any bees today, but think I'll wait a few days before putting the feeders up again.


  1. Enjoyable little story. It seems to be a hard choice and like people we wish they both could get along. Thank you for this blog.

  2. You're welcome. It was a hard choice; we want to encourage both species, but the hummers were justifiably intimidated - swarms of bees (and here in AZ they're pretty much all "Africanized," crossed with the killer bees from further south) have killed people and even horses, so a little bird would stand no chance. This morning there were still a few bees around, so I'm still holding off on the feeders.:-(