Are you looking for a proven hummingbird nectar recipe?
If so, you have come to the right place. I use the following recipe, along with millions of other enthusiasts, to attract lots of hummingbirds every summer. And make sure you keep reading (or CLICK HERE) to see answers to EIGHT commonly asked questions regarding homemade hummingbird food.
Here is the SIMPLE Hummingbird Nectar Recipe You Should Use:
- The whole process takes less than 5 minutes, and that includes cleanup!
Ingredients and Materials:
- White table sugar – The kind you use in your kitchen for baking
- Hot water -I use tap water from my sink. But if your local water supply is tainted with heavy metals, I recommend using filtered water.
- In a mixing bowl or glass, combine 1 cup sugar with 4 cups hot water. The ratio for hummingbird nectar is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, so if this recipe makes too much or not enough for your specific food needs, it’s easy to adjust accordingly.
- Mix the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved. Making sure the water is hot will help dissolve the sugar.
- You have hummingbird nectar! I would let the mixture cool to room temperature before filling your feeders. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
To see this recipe in action, watch this LIVE hummingbird camera!
As long as it’s daylight, you are almost guaranteed to see hummingbirds feeding on nectar made from the above recipe. Incredibly, these feeders, located in California, need to be refilled at least three times per day, and the owner has to buy 50-pound bags of sugar regularly!
8 COMMON Questions About This Nectar Recipe
#1. Do I REALLY just use regular table sugar and water?
Yes! It is that easy! And here’s why:
Natural nectar found in flowers is mostly a sucrose solution. Luckily, white sugar is also made of sucrose, so when mixed with the appropriate amount of water, it closely resembles natural nectar in flowers.
Don’t try to get fancy and use honey, brown sugar, or an artificial sweetener in your recipe. These won’t work, nor will these ingredients be good for hummingbirds! Instead, please stick to plain old white sugar.
#2. Should I boil the water?
Whether you should boil the water when making your homemade nectar is a debated topic. Hummingbird enthusiasts that recommend boiling the water claim that boiling removes any impurities (bacteria, fungus) in the water and helps the nectar last longer.
But nature is not a clean place and is full of bacteria. As soon as the first hummingbird sticks their tongue in the feeder, they have introduced bacteria, negating the point of boiling the water.
Personally, I do not boil the water when I make my hummingbird food.
I use hot water that comes out of my sink. The only reason I use hot water instead of cold is to help the sugar dissolve more quickly.
But no harm can be done by boiling the water. If it makes you feel better, then please boil away! 🙂
#3. Should I add red dye to the nectar?
Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, so many people wonder if adding red dye to the nectar will help attract more hummers. It’s a great question and has a simple answer.
Don’t add red dye to your hummingbird food!
The effects of consuming red dye are unclear, and studies have shown potential health consequences for hummingbirds. And putting red dye in nectar is unnecessary to attract hummingbirds. Just make sure that the nectar feeder you purchase has a red top or base.
#4. Does pre-made nectar bought in stores work better?
For example, here is a list of ingredients for Kaytee’s “Ready To Use” ElectroNectar, a popular pre-made nectar solution that I have purchased in the past.
The “Ready To Use” ElectroNectar has almost the same ratio of sugar (Sucrose – 20%) to water (Moisture – 80%) that is recommended in the hummingbird recipe above.
For the record, it’s okay if you want to buy pre-made nectar. Just make sure you don’t buy pre-made nectar because you think it’s superior to the hummingbird food you can make in your own home.
#5. How long does homemade hummingbird food last?
As a general rule, the hotter the weather, the quicker the nectar will ferment and spoil. How long your nectar stays fresh depends on both the weather, the humidity, and if your hummingbird feeder hangs in the shade or sun.
Below are some general guidelines for how long your nectar will last, but it’s impossible to predict because of the variables. No matter what, I wouldn’t let your nectar sit for more than a week outside, even if it is cool and in the shade. If the nectar starts looking cloudy or has anything gross floating around, it’s spoiled, and it’s time to change and clean your feeder!
- Cooler weather or in the shade: 4-7 days
- Hot weather or in the sun: 2-3 days
- Extra nectar kept in the refrigerator: up to 2 weeks
Don’t let your nectar spoil, rot, or become moldy! Old and gross food discourages the hummingbirds you worked hard to attract from visiting again. The hummers will quickly move on to other food sources, negating potentially months of hard work and patience. Once you have earned their trust, you will need to work hard to keep it!
#6. Can I use honey in the nectar recipe?
No. Adding honey to this nectar recipe will not help and can be dangerous to hummingbirds. This is because when honey mixes with water, it ferments rapidly, which spoils the nectar and creates an environment that lets bacteria and fungus thrive.
If hummingbirds feed on rotten nectar, it can lead to a deadly infection that makes their tongues swell. In fact, it makes their tongue so large that they have trouble fitting it back into their bill. Unfortunately, this sickness almost always leads to a slow death.
And if you’re still not convinced, think about this fact:
Hummingbirds don’t eat honey naturally!
Have you ever heard about a hummingbird raiding a honey bee nest? Honeybees are not even native to North America, so at no point in history did hummingbirds evolve to eat honey or have access to the stuff except for the last few hundred years.
Just stick to the simple nectar recipe for 1 part white sugar and 4 parts water. It’s human nature to try and improve everything, but this is an example where more intervention harms hummingbirds.
#7. Is nectar the only food that hummingbirds eat?
I asked this question the first time I made nectar at home and realized that hummingbird nectar is basically a fancy name for sugar water! There had to be something of substance they also ate to supplement their diet?
Upon more research, I learned that hummingbirds get their protein by feasting on small insects and arthropods (spiders).
So to attract as many hummingbirds as possible, I don’t use any insecticides in my yard. I want there to be plenty of bugs for them to eat.
Here is an easy tip to provide lots of fruit flies for hummingbirds to eat.
Take any bananas or other fruit that is ready to spoil, and place it outside in an easy spot to observe. The old fruit is naturally going to attract lots of fruit flies, which should attract hummingbirds for an easy meal.
#8. What if I make a more concentrated sugar solution?
You might be thinking that if hummingbirds love a nectar solution that contains 1 part sugar to every 4 parts water, they will go crazy over a recipe that doubles the amount of sugar!
Unfortunately, adding more sugar won’t help! If the nectar becomes too sweet or concentrated, it’s not going to resemble what hummingbirds find in flowers naturally and can become problematic for them to digest.
As tempting as it can be to add more sugar, stick to the tried and true hummingbird food recipe found above.
What other questions do you have about making hummingbird nectar?
Please ask below so we can all help each other.
Thanks for reading!