At the 2018 Oregon Country Fair a customer stopped by to say his feeder was attracting bees. Initially I didn’t believe him. In all our years feeding the hummingbirds, we’d never seen any honey bees getting through the feeding ports. I was confident my design kept the bees out.
Later that summer during the heat of August however, I did indeed witness yellow jackets and wasps muscling their way into the chamber to feed. I realized my customer was right, but also that he must have been confusing the honey bees with yellow jackets, wasps, and other yellow stingy things. Humbled, I remedied the situation by making the hole a lot smaller – not very aesthetic but the objective was met.
Then I 3D printed some flowers with a small hole and epoxied them onto the cowling. That also worked: the birds could feed and the insects could not.
I then consulted a machinist. Would it be possible to make an attractive metal flower that, when attached to the cowling, would take up some of the hole’s diameter and shrink it the opening just enough to keep the insects out? The process we created goes like this: stack a dozen or so sheets of metal within a cutting template and laser cut flat flower shapes;
Press a cup shape and extrude the corolla in an arbor press;
Use the same arbor press with different tooling to attach/press the metal flower onto the cowling and paint them.
So there it is; the beta version. My concerns at this point, which I hope to get your feedback on:
- Will the flowers keep the insects out?
- Will the flower stay attached after years of use?
- Will the color stay fast after years of use?
- Do you like the flowers? Are they worth the effort?
Launching a website is always challenging. It’s especially challenging when the fine product one is selling has over 150 variations, and even more challenging in the midst of a global pandemic. We’d rather not think about the extra screen time our small team has logged over the last few months!
Of course, the hummingbirds don’t care about any of that- they just want a nice feeding station! If you already have one established, you know that hummers are basically unstoppable when they’re on their way to get that nectar.
But what if you don’t have a feeding station established? No worries! Setting up a space for your feeder is not difficult. Here are a few pointers to get started:
- Consider the time of year. Some hummingbirds migrate, and even the most beautiful and inviting feeding station will go unused if all of the birds have gone on vacation. To learn more about your region, you can check with organizations like The Hummingbird Society or Audubon Society.
- Pick a spot that is out of reach of common predators, particularly cats. Even if the neighborhood cats aren’t interested in hummers, the little birds will naturally gravitate towards areas that they believe to be safer. Making sure the feeder is high enough off of the ground will help the birds to feel more secure.
- DON’T USE ANY ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS OR FOOD DYE IN YOUR NECTAR. The red on the bases will be more than sufficient to draw the birds, and food dyes can hurt them.
- Nearby perches, be they natural or manmade, will make the space more appealing.
- If the birds don’t find it right away, don’t worry- it may take days or even weeks. But keep it full and clean and once they find it, they’ll keep coming back as long as it’s fresh and full.
Enjoy the show!