Homemade Hummingbird Food

Homemade hummingbird food formula is:  4 parts water to 1 part sugar, boil 2 minutes.

Here you will learn how to make hummingbird nectar, when to change the nectar in your feeder, how to properly clean your feeder, how to keep bees, ants and wasps away from your feeder and how to hand-feed hummingbirds.

As a special gift to you, at the end of the article I have included my special video that will teach you how to hand-feed your hummingbirds. I should warn you, it will tickle your hand!

Besides just watching the hummingbirds at your feeder as they drink the nectar, making your own homemade hummingbird food formula is just one more way to enjoy your hummingbird experience and discover the pleasure you derive from making homemade food with your own two hands. Besides nectar from your feeder and flower blooms, hummingbirds also feed on protein which they get from insects in your yard. So refrain from using pesticides so as to not harm the hummingbirds.

The only two ingredients you need are sugar and water. It only takes a few minutes to make your own homemade hummingbird food and making your own nectar will also save you some money. So let’s get started.


Homemade hummingbird food formula:

The formula for homemade hummingbird food is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Ordinary white granulated table sugar and tap water is all you will need to make hummingbird food. No honey, no brown sugar, no sugar substitutes, no red food coloring, nothing else is added to the hummingbird food recipe. Other ingredients besides sugar and water can cause your hummingbird syrup to ferment quicker and some of them are even harmful. The red food coloring has been said to be harmful so don’t use it. If you have a red colored feeder that is all you need to attract hummingbirds to your feeder.

First, add the water to a pan and bring to a boil on your stove top.

Next add the sugar to the boiling water and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

If you use 4 cups of water, you will use 1 cup of sugar. If you use 2 cups pf water, you will use ½ cup of sugar. This will keep your nectar to a  4 to 1 ration which is close to what is found in actual flower nectar.

Boil the hummingbird food formula about 2 minutes. This will boil out the chlorine if there is any in the water and will kill any mold spores or other impurities in the sugar that might cause your hummingbird nectar to spoil quicker.

If you boil too long you will boil away too much water and change the 4 to 1 ratio and end up with a nectar that has more sugar than what occurs naturally in flower blooms. Also a higher sugar content will cause your homemade hummingbird food to ferment quicker and have to be changed sooner. Bees are also more attracted  to a nectar that has a higher sugar content.

Once your  hummingbird food  has boiled and the sugar has dissolved, you can take it off the heat and let it cool.

When it’s cool you can add it to your feeder and any excess nectar that you might have can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



Here’s a good video on how to make homemade hummingbird food

Most people do boil the nectar longer than is suggested in this video.



The best place to hang your hummingbird feeder

Once your nectar is made and your feeder is cooled, you will want to find a good place to hang your feeder.If you want your nectar to stay fresh for a s long a possible, you should find a shady place out of the sun. In the shade it will stay cooler and the sugar water won’t ferment as quickly. The outside air temperature is what will determine just how long your nectar will stay fresh. Hanging your feeder in the sun is fine and in some instances might make it more visible to the hummingbirds. In the sun, the nectar will just have to be changed more often. You can always move the feeder into a shady spot once the hummingbirds have found it.

Another important factor about feeder location is that you will want a spot where you can see the feeder from your house. This will allow you to get more enjoyment from feeding the hummingbirds. So a shady spot near a window where you spend a lot of time will be a prime location.window feeder



You may even want to consider a window hummingbird feeder. A window hummingbird feeder will bring them in as close as possible. Some window hummingbird feeders also have built in ant moats that will keep ants from getting into your feeder and into your hummingbird nectar. An ant moat is a container that holds water and because ants can’t swim, they cant reach your nectar. Some feeders also have bee barriers that keep bees, wasps and other insects from being able to reach the nectar. These flexible membranes are called “Nectar Guard Tips“. They are inserted into the feeding port from the under side and and allow the hummingbirds to inset their beaks, but close up when the hummingbird withdraws it’s beak. Bees and wasps are denied access.


When to change your hummingbird nectar

The homemade  food formula in your feeder will have to be changed every so often to keep it fresh so it doesn’t ferment and end up with mold growing in it. Hummingbirds won’t feed at a dirty feeder with spoiled nectar.

Your nectar will start to turn cloudy when it need to be changed. The amount of time your homemade hummingbird food formula will last before fermenting and need changing will vary depending on how hot the weather is. The cooler the weather, the longer it will stay fresh and the longer you can go without changing it.

The hotter the weather, the quicker you nectar will ferment and the sooner it will have to be changed to keep it fresh. As I said before, you can watch to see when your nectar starts to turn cloudy, then change it. For best results you need to find a schedule where the nectar is being changed before it starts to go bad.

Here is a general guide line you can use to help determine how long your homemade hummingbird food formula might last before needing changed. This is just a general guide line and will vary according to whether the feeder is in the shade or in the sun, if your feeder is properly cleaned and if your nectar was properly prepared. If the temperatures are in the 60’s you can usually get by just changing it once a week.  As the temperatures rise into the 70’s and beyond it will need to be changed more often.

High temperatures      Change nectar after

71-75                         6 days

76-80                         5 days

81-84                         4 days

85-88                         3 days

89-92                         2 days

93+                            change daily


Every time you change the homemade hummingbird food formula, rinse out your feeder with hot water. You will need to clean your feeder about once a week. The National Audubon Society says this should be done by rinsing with 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water. Follow the vinegar wash by rinsing your feeder three times with clear warm water before refilling with fresh  sugar solution.

If mold starts to grow in your homemade hummingbird food formula, because you didn’t change it soon enough, you will have to clean it with a stronger solution to kill the mold and sterilize your feeder. This is where you will be glad if you have a hummingbird feeder that is easy to take apart and is easy to clean.

hummingbird feeder brushes
hummingbird feeder brushes

You will have to soak your feeder in a mild bleach water solution. Soak your feeder in a 10% bleach 90% water solution for an hour. To help clean out the mold you may need to buy a set of hummingbird feeder brushes that will reach inside the feeder and into the feeder ports. Thoroughly scrub out all mold residue with the feeder brushes.

When done soaking, the feeder should be thoroughly rinsed 3 or 4 times with water. All traces of bleach solution must be removed.



Here’s a video on how to clean a hummingbird feeder

It also shows some of the hummingbird feeder brushes that are available to make cleaning a feeder easier.



How to keep ants, bees, wasps and other insect pests off of your hummingbird feeder

Now that you have your feeder with homemade nectar hanging in a good location, you need to learn how to keep bees, wasps and ants off of the feeder.

Keeping ants off a hummingbird feeder with an ant moat

ant moat
ant moat



Keeping ants off a hummingbird feeder is a rather simple process. The use of an ant moat is all you need. The ant moat or ant guard as it is sometimes called, is filled with water and because ants can’t swim, it is an effective barrier to keep ants out of your nectar. If ants get into your nectar they will drown and their decomposing bodies will contaminate your nectar. You can buy an ant moat and hang it from a tree branch with a wire or feeder hook, then hang your hummingbird feeder on the hook under the ant moat. Just keep it filled with water and ants shouldn’t be a problem. Most of your better hummingbird feeders will come with an ant moat built right in the feeder.



Here’s a video on how to make your own homemade ant moat



How to keep bees and wasps off a hummingbird feeder

Sometimes bees are so thick at a feeder that the hummingbirds can’t feed at all. The bees can be a major problem. They love the sweet nectar just like hummingbirds do. A lot of feeders have the yellow plastic flowers on the feeder ports.  That doesn’t help because bees are attracted to the color yellow.  Some people take them off or paint them red.

Keeping bees and wasps off a hummingbird feeder is a lot easier if you start with a feeder that has built in “Nectar Guard Tips”. These a flexible membranes that allow the beak of a hummingbird to go through and get to the nectar. When the hummingbird withdraws its beak the tips close back up. The long beak of a hummingbird can reach the nectar, but bees and wasps can’t. After a while the bees and wasps just give up and move on.

If you have an existing feeder that doesn’t have any bee deterrents, there are still a few things you can try. A rolled up newspaper and a quick thump is somewhat effective but it can be hard on your feeder. A better choice is just to take your feeder down until the bees go away. The bees will give up a lot quicker than the hummingbirds will. After the bees leave, put it back out and the hummingbirds will quickly find it again. Some people have luck just moving the feeder a short distance away. I guess bees aren’t as smart as hummingbirds and will have a harder time locating the feeder. And finally, some people put out a feeder just for the bees to use. These people use a sweeter mix, 1 part sugar to 3 parts water. The bees are more attracted to this sweeter nectar and leave the hummingbird feeder alone. I guess it’s worth a try!

The easiest and best fix to all your feeder bee, wasp and ant problems as well as all your feeder cleaning problems, is to just get a good feeder that is designed to stop all these feeder pests and prevent them from reaching the nectar. A good hummingbird feeder will do all of this and then some!


Bee proof feeder video

Here’s a video about bee proofing your hummingbird feeder using the mesh from an onion bag


What is the best hummingbird feeder?

There is a list of certain features that would qualify a hummingbird feeder as the best feeder. The more of these desirable features the feeder has the better feeder it is. Here is a list of features you should look for in a hummingbird feeder.

In my opinion the number one thing to look for is a non-leaking hummingbird feeder. The same nectar that will attract the hummingbirds to your feeder is also responsible for attracting all those unwanted pests. This is where a feeder that doesn’t leak is very important. It will help keep away all those unwanted visitors at your feeder. A non-leaking hummingbird feeder won’t have nectar leaking out of the feeder ports and onto the outside of the feeder, where it hen leaks onto the ground. This will attracts all kinds of feeder pests.

Generally speaking, hummingbird feeders can be divided into two basic kinds of feeders, basin (saucer feeders) and inverted bottle feeders. A saucer feeder is like a little dish with a cover on top that has holes in the top where the hummingbird can feed. The inverted bottle type feeder will have a bottle-like container that will screw into the base of the feeder. The trouble with bottle-type feeders is that as the hummingbirds use the feeder and the nectar level starts to decline, an air space develops at the top of the feeder. In hot weather, this air space will expand and drive nectar out of the feeder ports onto the outside of the feeder and onto the ground where the nectar will attract all kinds of unwanted visitors such as bees ants and wasps. The saucer type feeder prevents this leakage, so here is where the quest for the best hummingbird feeder begins.


Look for a saucer type feeder that has as many desirable features as possible.

Those features should include:

* red color- the best hummingbird feeder will be a red feeder because red attracts hummingbirds

* ant moat- the best feeder will have a built-in ant moat or an ad on moat to keep ants out of the feeder.

* bee guards – the best feeder will have bee guards of some type that aren’t yellow, because yellow attracts bees.

* built in perches– the best feeder will have built in perches for the birds to sit on. This will allow you to get a better look at the birds and it will allow the hummingbirds to rest while feeding so they can conserve energy

* easy to clean– the best feeder will be easy to take apart so you can easily clean it.A clean feeder is very important for the health of the birds and is very important if you want to attract them.

* rain guard -the best feeder will have a rain guard to keep water out of the nectar. A raise feeding port is the way to keep out rain.

So in essence, to find the best hummingbird feeder, all you have to do is find a non-leaking hummingbird feeders that has all of the previously listed features. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you might think! Below is a Hummzinger hummingbird feeder that has all of the above  mentioned features. 

HummZinger Ultra hummingbird feeder Hummzinger Ultra With Nectar Guard

It’s inexpensive and has all the above listed features.

It’s a medium size nectar feeder with a 12 ounce capacity. It can be hung or it can be mounted from a pole. The hardware for pole mounting is include.

For ease of cleaning and protection from bees, wasps and ants, I don’t think this feeder can be topped.






How to hand-feed hummingbirds instructional video


Here is another technique you can use to hand-feed hummingbirds through a window in your home.


If you would like to watch my other free videos on hand-feeding different backyard birds and squirrels, click the link    Hand-feeding backyard birds and squirrels

Now you have learned how to make homemade hummingbird food, where to hang your feeder, how to clean a hummingbird feeder, when to change the nectar, how to keep bees and ants out of a hummingbird feeder and what to look for when you want to purchase a hummingbird feeder. I have also taught you how to hand-feed your hummingbirds!

The only thing left is to go out and enjoy feeding and watching your hummingbirds!

If you found this article helpful please share it using the social bookmarking buttons on the left side of this page.  Help everyone to increase their enjoyment of hummingbirds. Do it for the hummingbirds!





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