Chickens do eat bees, yes. It’s totally safe for them to do so. In fact, a lot of homesteads and wildlife enthusiasts keep both chickens and bees in close proximity without any issues. Your hens will happily clean up debris around the hive.
Is It OK for Chickens To Eat Bees?
It’s OK for chickens to eat bees from the standpoint that the risk of being stung is minimal. They do not present any other threats such as poisoning or toxicity either.
The risk of being stung is small because chickens have a thick plumage. Plus, if a bee buzzes around a chicken, they’re likely to get gobbled up.
I suppose there is a small risk of a live bee being swallowed, but this is a similar level threat to a number of other insects. I’ve never heard of it being a problem.
Probably because, although chickens do not have teeth, getting past their beak in one piece is no easy task.
Bees - like most insects - also provide a decent amount of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. In fact, bees, wasps, and their larvae are a delicacy and eaten by humans in some parts of the world.
Related - Can chickens eat honey and honeycombs?
Are Bee Nests Safe?
If you find a bee’s nest in your yard I’d call pest control to get it checked out to be on the safe side.
It’s important to find out what species of bee is taking up residence in your yard so you can know what to expect.
There are thousands of different species of bees In the U.S. The most popular are the honeybee, western honeybee, killer bee (not as deadly as it sounds), bumblebee, carpenter bee, and mining bee.
All of these are perfectly safe. But the last thing you want is to have to deal with a huge swarm of bees whenever you’re in your yard.
The time when bees really start to become dangerous is when they’re in large numbers. If you see a nest, don’t let your chickens near it until you’ve sought some advice from a professional.
Should You Trap or Feed Bees To Your Chickens?
In a word - no.
Bees play an incredibly important role in the ecosystem of our planet. It’s a little known fact, but bees are directly responsible for pollinating around 80% of the crops we consume globally.
That’s incredible really. But there’s a problem. The population of bees in the U.S. has been declining by around 30% a year for a number of years now.
For this reason, some states have put laws in place to help protect bees. Even if you’re not in a state that has such a law, I think it’s only right we all do our little bit to help.
If your chickens munch a few, that’s fine. It’s just nature. But please don’t deliberately catch bees or encourage your chickens to eat them.
Some of the Other Backyard Bugs That Chickens Can Eat
Bees, wasps, and other flying insects are great for chickens, but they don’t discriminate against land bugs too!
In fact, just about any backyard critters will get gobbled up if they’re brave (stupid) enough to get near to a chicken.
Here are some of the most common creatures chickens eat:
- Slugs and snails (read about the risks slugs present here.)
- Grasshoppers and crickets
- Stink bugs (eww I hate these)
- Small reptiles like lizards
- .. the list is endless.
The best part - it’s a win-win. Your chickens get tasty, protein-rich snacks, and you get free pest control!
Bees are one of the most fascinating and important in insects that enter our yards. For this reason, they’re not “pests” like a lot of other insects.
It’s important to identify the difference between bees and other yellow and black insects that are pests, such as hornet, paper wasps, yellow jackets, and so on.
We need to do our bit to protect bees, there are plenty of other insects for chickens to munch up!
Image credits - Photos by Shoeib Abolhassani and Kai Wenzel on Unsplash
Why Bees Matter so Much to Humans - OneGreenPlanet.com
Is it Illegal to Kill Bees? - LegalBeagle.com