The Hummingbird food recipe that’s easy to make: add 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, boil 2 minutes, let cool
Here you will learn how to make hummingbird nectar, when to change the nectar in your feeder, the proper way to clean your feeder, how to keep ants and bees out of your feeder and so much more. At the bottom of this article you will also find my special instructional video that will teach you a quick and easy way to teach your hummingbirds to feed out of your bare hand.
Want to make your own hummingbird food? It’s easy to do and all you need is white sugar and water.
You won’t have to use red food coloring in the hummingbird food recipe. The only purpose of the food coloring is to attract hummingbirds and the red on your feeder will be enough to do that. Red food coloring is also thought to be harmful to the Hummingbirds, so not using it at all will be the best way to go.
The hummingbird food recipe is made up of 1 part white granulated table sugar and 4 parts of regular tap water. This 1 to 4 ratio of sugar to water will closely resemble the nectar that hummingbirds get from flower blossoms.
The nectar recipe starts by stirring the white granulated table sugar into the tap water in a pan on your stove while bringing the mixture to a boil. The importance of boiling the solution is to remove chlorine from the water and to kill any mold spores or any yeast spores that might be in the granulated sugar.
Continue boiling the nectar for two minutes and then take it off the heat to cool. You don’t need to boil the nectar any longer than 2 minutes or you will boil away enough of the water to change the ratio of sugar to water. A higher sugar concentration resulting from boiling too long, will be more likely to attract insects such as bees and wasps.
When your hummingbird food has cooled you can add it to your feeder. You can store any excess hummingbird food recipe in the refrigerator (for 7 – 8 days) and use it later.
Only put in as much hummingbird nectar as you need to feed the number of Hummingbirds you have using your feeder. It is not necessary to completely fill your feeder. You don’t want to have a large amount left over to throw away when it comes time to change the Hummingbird nectar in your feeder.
Making your own Hummingbird food is fun, saves you some money and is better for your hummingbirds than nectar that contains red food coloring.
Here is a good video that demonstrates how to make hummingbird food.
Now that your homemade hummingbird food is done you can fill your feeder and find a place to hang it.
Where is a good place to hang a hummingbird feeder?
A good place to hang it is a shady spot, if you have one. Heat will make your nectar ferment quicker and have to be changed sooner, so a cooler spot in the shade is always good. You might also want to hang your feeder near a window, in a room where you spend a lot of time. That way you will be able to watch your feeder and more easily observe the hummingbirds. If you don’t have a good shady spot, that’s fine, you’ll just have to change the nectar a little sooner.
You might even want to try a window hummingbird feeder. That will allow you to get really close for a great view of the hummingbirds. Once you get your feeder hung, it’s important that you keep fresh nectar in the feeder
How to be sure your nectar is always fresh
It’s very important to keep fresh nectar in the feeder. Hummingbirds won’t feed at a dirty feeder and spoiled hummingbird nectar can be harmful to the hummingbirds. Sooner or later, the sugar in the nectar will ferment. The temperature of the outside air is what will determine how long the hummingbird food will stay fresh. The hotter the temperature, the sooner it will ferment and the sooner the nectar will have to be changed. Once the nectar starts to ferment it won’t be long before black specks of mold can be seen in the nectar and mold would be seen growing on your feeder. As a general rule, if the temp. is in the 60’s, the nectar should last about a week before needing changing. When the temp. gets out of the 60’s it will need changing sooner. Below is a chart that you can use as a gude to help keep your nectar fresh.
High temperatures…………Change nectar after
This chart is only meant to be a general guide. It’s better to change the nectar a little sooner than to change it latter, after the sugar starts to ferment. Along with the chart, a visual inspection of the nectar will tell you if it needs to be changed. Once the nectar starts to look cloudy, it needs to be changed. If it looks cloudy and has black specks of mold in it, you have waited too long. Moldy hummingbird food containing bacteria, can be harmful to the hummingbirds.
Between nectar changes, it should be rinsed out with hot water several times. The feeder should be cleaned 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 your feeder with fresh sugar solution.
If mold starts to grow in your hummingbird food, 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.To kill the mold and sterilize your feeder you will have to soak the feeder in a mild bleach solution. To make the solution, add 1/4 cup bleach to a gallon of water and soak your entire feeder for an hour. To clean the mold off of your feeder you may need to scrub the mold with regular hummingbird feeder brushes. Cleaning your feeder with a mild bleach solution will make your feeder safe for the hummingbirds and insure that they continue to feed at your feeder.
Here is a good video on how to clean a hummingbird feeder
Once your feeder is hung, not only will hummingbirds be attracted to the sweet sugar solution, but so will insects such as bees, ants and wasps. No you will need to learn how to protect your feeder against insects.
Controlling hummingbird feeder pests: how to keep bees, ants and other insects off a hummingbird feeder
Once your feeder is hung, not only will hummingbirds, be attracted to the sweet sugar solution, but so will insects such as bees, ants and wasps. Now you will need to learn how to protect your feeder against insects. Bees and ants can be a big problem when it comes to feeding hummingbirds. Bees can be so thick at a feeder that the hummingbirds can’t feed at all and ants can get inside the feeder, drown and their decomposing bodies will ruin the nectar.
The easiest way to control feeder pest is to get a good feeder that is bee and ant proof. We’ll talk more about that option later. For now, we’ll talk about how to bee and ant proof your existing hummingbirds feeder.
Easy way to ant proof a hummingbird feeder
Ants will be the easiest insects to keep out of your feeder so we’ll start with them. There is a device called an ant moat or ant trap or ant guard, that can be used to keep ants out of the hummingbird food. It’s usually a round plastic container that you can fill with water. The ant moat can be hung from the feeder hanger right in front of the feeder. The feeder is hung on the bottom side of the moat. Since the moat is filled with water and ants can’t swim, the ants can only climb down the feeder hanger until they get to the water. That is as far as they can go.
Ant moats come in various shapes and sizes and are made out of a few different materials. Some of them are decorative and add a nice appearance to your feeder set up. You can get red colored moats that will even help in the attraction of hummingbirds. Add a moat and your ant problem will be solved. You can even make your own moat if you want to try.
Here’s a video I found on how to make a homemade ant moat.
How to keep bees away from your hummingbird feeder
As with ants, bees can be controlled by using a good feeder that’s designed to keep out bees. To keep bees away from your existing feeder, there are several techniques that you can employ. People have varying degrees of success using them, but here they are.
4 basic ways to try to prevent bees at your hummingbird feeder
1. Try using bee guards. Some feeders come with the yellow plastic mesh bee guards that fit over the feeding ports.
2. Try to move the feeder to a different location. Sometimes only moving it a short distance will keep the bees from finding it. They aren’t nearly as smart as hummingbirds and will give up a looking a lot quicker. Don’t worry, the hummingbirds will quickly locate it again. If this doesn’t work, try taking the feeder down for several days. Again, the bees will quickly give up looking, but the hummingbirds will find it once the feeder is hung back out.
3. Some people put up a feeder just for the bees! In the bee feeder they will use a sweeter nectar with a 1 to 3 ratio of sugar to water. Bees are more attracted to sweeter syrup and will leave the hummingbird feeder alone. Once the bees have found their feeder and are using it, move it away from the hummingbird feeder and hope the bees follow. Good Luck!
Below is a video that will show you how to keep bees out of your feeder using plastic mesh from an onion sack.
If all this fails to keep bees away from your feeder, don’t despair. Just get a good feeder that is already designed to keep bees and ants away from your hummingbird food.
A good hummingbird feeder will solve your bee and ant problems and a whole lot more!
So what makes a good feeder, good? There are a few features that separate a great feeder from all the rest.
*First off, a great feeder will always be a non-leaking feeder. A feeder that leaks will attract all kinds of unwanted visitors as the nectar leaks onto the outside of the feeder and then onto the ground. There are 2 basic kinds of hummingbird feeders, a basin /saucer feeder and inverted bottle feeders. The saucer feeders are like a little dish with a cover on top. The cover has the feeding ports where the hummingbirds feed. The bottle feeders, that have a bottle that screws into the base of the feeder,A great feeder will be red, to attract hummingbirds will leak. As the nectar level in the bottle goes down, it leaves an air pocket behind at the top of the feeder. Heat will cause the air to expand and that will push nectar out of the feeding ports around the bottom of the feeder. In a basin feeder, the nectar is always below the feeding ports and can never be forced out of the ports.
*A great feeder will be red, to attract hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are most attracted to the color red.
*A great feeder will have an ant moat built into the design of the feeder or will have an add on moat. These will keep ants out of the hummingbird nectar.
*A great feeder will have some sort of protection to keep out bees. The yellow bee guards found on most feeders will attract bees and wasps. They like the color yellow. A great feeder has bee protection built into the feeder in the form of “Nectar Guard Tips”. These are flexible plastic membranes that fit onto the underside of the feeding ports. The hummingbird’s long beak can reach down right through them. When the beak is pulled out the guard tips close the hole up and keep out the bees.
*A great feeder will have perches for the hummingbirds to sit on while they feed. This allows the birds to conserve energy and allows you to get a good view of them while they are sitting still.
*A great feeder will have rain guards to keep rain water from running into the feeder ports and diluting the nectar. These are raised and usually flower shaped and encircle the holes in the feeder. They will be red, so they don’t attract bees and wasps.
*And very important, a great feeder will be easy to take apart and clean. Clean nectar and a clean feeder are the keystone to your hummingbird feeding success. If the feeder design makes it easy for you to clean the feeder, you are a lot more likely to keep it clean.
WOW! ………. that seems like so much to ask for, and it is! That’s why so many hummingbird feeders will fall short of the mark.
The good news is, there are feeders that have all these great feeder designs that will make your life easy.
My favorite hummingbird feeder to use with the hummingbird food recipe is the HummZinger Ultra. It’s a great feeder that will solve all your pest problems and has all the great features listed above.
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 videos on hand-feeding different backyard birds and squirrels, click the link Hand-feeding backyard birds and squirrels
Now you have learned a hummingbird food recipe, you have learned where to hang your hummingbird feeder, how to clean a hummingbird feeder, when you should change the nectar, how to keep bees and ants out of a hummingbird feeder and what to look for when you want to get a great hummingbird feeder. I have also taught you how to hand-feed your hummingbirds!
The only thing left is to go out and enjoy your hummingbirds!
If you found this article helpful for feeding hummingbirds, 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!
Cornell university feeder pest control article