Backyard Tips: How to Make Your Own Hummingbird Nectar

Hungry hummingbirds sip at a backyard feeder. Photo by J. Quinn.

’Tis the season for hummingbirds! Hanging a hummingbird feeder in your backyard? The recipe below will produce a solution that matches the sucrose content of natural flower nectar. Make sure to use white table sugar. Other sweeteners such as molasses or honey may spoil quickly and may not be good for hummingbirds to consume.

Ingredients for 1 quart of hummingbird nectar solution:

4 cups water
1 cup sugar

Instructions:

1. Fill a 1 quart mason jar with 1 cup water.
2. “Nuke” in microwave for 3 minutes.
3. Carefully remove to sink—it will be very hot!
4. Pour 1 cup sugar into jar and stir until dissolved.
5. Fill jar with cool water (use the remaining three cups).
6. Fill clean feeder(s) with nectar.
7. Cover jar with lid and refrigerate.

P.S. Hummingbirds will take cold nectar, but it’s always a good idea to warm the nectar to room temperature before refilling the feeder.

Hummingbird feeder with bee guard. Photo by G. Tandy.

A Few Helpful Tips:

  • Want to prevent bees from buzzing around your hummingbird feeder? Select one with bee guards. These plastic devices allow the longer tongues of hummingbirds to reach the nectar. Bee guards prevent shorter insect tongues from reaching the nectar.
  • You can also discourage ants from getting to your feeders. Laundry detergent applied with a paintbrush will work. Paint whatever surface the ants use to gain access to the feeder (but not the feeder itself). The solution interferes with the ants’ chemical navigation. Refresh the application several times the first day. After a few days you won’t need it anymore.

Looking for More Tips?

Check out the Hummingbird section on birdwatchersdigest.com. Learn the best ways to attract these flying jewels to your yard, tips for choosing feeders, and more! Start browsing »

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