Easy DIY Hummingbird Nectar with FAQ



Written by Katie Piercy

When it comes to making your own hummingbird nectar it really couldn’t be simpler. All you need to do is dissolve 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. This nectar can be put into a nectar feeder for hummingbirds to feed from.


What do hummingbirds eat?

hummingbirds eat

Hummingbirds are nectarivores, meaning they mainly eat nectar from flowers. Nectar is a sugary liquid, which flowers provide to entice pollinators to come and feed from them. Hummingbirds will feed from a wide range of different flower species, but the nectar is fairly similar across the board.

Many people like to provide nectar themselves by putting up hummingbird feeders. While less natural, feeders still provide an excellent source of food for hummingbirds. They also allow the chance for people without the space to plant flowers to provide a food source for these aerial visitors.

Recipe RatioIngredients
4:1Water to sugar
3:1Water to sugar
2:1Water to sugar
1:1Water to sugar
Table 1: Hummingbird Nectar Recipe Ratios

Can I use honey instead of sugar?No, it is best to use plain white granulated sugar.
Should I boil the water before making the nectar?Boiling the water can help dissolve the sugar, but it’s not required.
How long does homemade nectar last?Store unused nectar in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Can I add food coloring to the nectar?No, it’s best to avoid using food coloring as it may be harmful.
Do I need to clean the feeder between refills?Yes, it’s important to clean the feeder and replace the nectar regularly.
Table 2: Common Questions about DIY Hummingbird Nectar

Use only plain white granulated sugar.
Stir the sugar and water mixture until dissolved.
Let the nectar cool before filling the feeder.
Clean the feeder with hot, soapy water regularly.
Place the feeder in a shady and easily accessible location.
Table 3: Tips for DIY Hummingbird Nectar

How to make your own hummingbird nectar

Feeding hummingbirds is a pleasure many people enjoy. Not only does it provide an easy source of sustenance to these tiny birds, but it allows us humans to enjoy watching them zip here and there near our homes and gardens.

While you can buy premade hummingbird nectar it is very easy and satisfying to make your own. All you need is white granular sugar and water.

  1. Boil the water
    You can use ordinary tap water for your hummingbird nectar, bringing it to a boil in a pan. Remember to place a lid on your pan as this helps the water to boil faster while reducing the energy required.
  2. Mix in your sugar
    Take your water off the heat and stir in your sugar until it dissolves. This shouldn’t take long. If you’re not sure if the sugar has dissolved use a spoon to lift some water from the pan and look for undissolved grains.
  3. Allow to cool
    Now leave your water to cool. If you want to store the syrup for a while you can carefully decant the hot mixture into a sterilised glass bottle. Or if you want to use it straight away you can leave it in the pan to cool.
  4. Fill your feeder
    Your syrup is ready to fill your feeder. Remember whenever you refill your feeder it’s a good idea to take it down and give it a good clean, as bird diseases can be spread by dirty feeders.

How much sugar?

The best ratio of sugar to water is to use 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. This means that one cup of sugar would be dissolved in four cups of water.

What kind of sugar?

For hummingbird syrup white granular sugar is the best option, as this produces a syrup that is most similar to the nectar hummingbirds get from flowers, both being largely sucrose.

While honey, sweeteners and raw sugar may be pleasant changes for us as humans, they contain minerals such as iron that can be harmful to hummingbirds. Sugars with a higher source of fructose and glucose can also be hard to digest.

Hummingbird nectar ratio

In general, a ratio of 1 to 4 sugar to water works best for feeding hummingbirds, however, a higher ratio of 1 to 3 sugar to water can be used in the winter to give birds an extra boost.

What kind of water?

Tap water is perfectly acceptable for you to use, unless you are aware of contaminants within your tap water. Rainwater can be another option if you have water butts in your garden.

How long does it last?

Food and Feeding Habits of Hummingbirds featured

Sugar is a preservative, meaning that your sugar water can be stored for a while without it going off. Refrigerating your mixture can help slow down any molds that may form. You can also sterilise your storage bottle prior to filling it with your mixture by boiling it in hot water.

How quickly the mixture may go off can depend on the conditions it has been kept in, and whether it has been contaminated. You can usually tell if the syrup has started to go off because it will either ferment or become moldy. Most syrup will last for at least two weeks.

It is recommended to replace the syrup within your feeders every two days, or at least twice a week in warm weather. Once the syrup has spoiled you will have less hummingbirds visiting your feeders.

Also read: 4 Methods of Hummingbirds Communication

Should I use red dye in my syrup?

While red dye may make your syrup look more attractive it has no benefit to the hummingbirds. While there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that it is harmful to them, as it doesn’t help them it is best not to include it just incase.

What if hummingbirds don’t like it?


This may be a sign your syrup has gone off, or perhaps that the mixture is wrong. It can also be that hummingbirds are simply being less active at this time, so don’t despair if they don’t visit your feeder straight away.

Where to hang the feeder?

Hummingbirds will visit feeders almost anywhere, however putting your feeder in the right place can help keep them safe, and make your nectar last longer.

Therefore think about hanging your feeder somewhere shady to avoid the nectar from being overheated, and high enough to prevent cats and other predators from being able to snap at your feathered friends.

When to hang up your feeder?

When hummingbirds visit your feeder will depend on where you live. In some regions hummingbirds are present and active all year round, and will appreciate a tasty sip of nectar even in the dead of winter.

In other locations hummingbirds are migratory species and will appear in the spring and disappear come autumn. The best way to be sure is to look at which species are resident in your area.

Nature’s feeders

While making your own nectar is very satisfying it’s also important to plant flowers for hummingbirds to feed on. Flowers can provide for many different forms of wildlife through giving food and shelter, while feeders are less able to do this.

Don’t worry that your flowers will prevent hummingbirds from visiting your feeders though, as free nectar will always be appreciated by these zippy little birds.


Katie Piercy

Katie Piercy, a conservation industry veteran with a diverse career, has worked in various environments and with different animals for over a decade. In the UK, she reared and released corncrake chicks, chased hen harriers, and restored peatland. She has also gained international experience, counting macaws in Peru, surveying freshwater springs in Germany, and raising kiwi chicks in New Zealand.

Meadows have always captivated her, and she has often provided advice and assistance in managing these habitats. From surveying snake's head fritillary in Wiltshire to monitoring butterfly species in Norfolk, Katie's dedication extends even to her own front garden, where she has created a mini meadow to support wild bees and other pollinators.

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