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Homemade Hummingbird Nectar

Updated on October 29, 2016

I have always loved hummingbirds, so when I spotted a hummingbird flying around our garden two days in a row last month, I knew it was time to invest in a hummingbird feeder. Of course, a hummingbird feeder is useless without hummingbird nectar. Although hummingbird nectar is readily available in-stores this time of year, I wanted to make my own.

What type of hummingbird nectar do you use?

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A hummingbird perched on the feeder after enjoying some homemade nectar.
A hummingbird perched on the feeder after enjoying some homemade nectar.


  • Sugar (Cane Sugar or White Granulated Sugar)
  • Water

Can I use brown sugar, Kool Aid (or other drink crystals), Jell-O, honey or artificial sweetener instead of table sugar?

NO. Do not add or substitute ingredients. It is especially important that you do not use an artificial sweetener - hummingbirds need the sugar.

Isn't hummingbird nectar supposed to be red? Do I add red food coloring?

Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red which is why a lot of store bought hummingbird nectar is red. Instead of adding any unnecessary ingredients to your hummingbird nectar, look for a red hummingbird feeder. Almost all hummingbird feeders have some red on them but you can always add more by tying a red ribbon to the feeder or you can try planting red flowers nearby.


Combine 4 parts water and 1 part sugar (for easy math, I used four cups of water and one cup of sugar) in a small-medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently to ensure the sugar dissolves completely. Do not over-boil.

Remove from heat, cover and cool completely. I like to let mine cool overnight in the refrigerator.

Once the mixture has cooled, transfer it to your hummingbird feeder. Because hummingbird nectar, regardless of whether you buy it in a store or make it yourself, has to be changed frequently (every 2-4 days), I only fill my hummingbird feeder about halfway.

After you have re-assembled your hummingbird feeder, be sure to wipe it down with a damp cloth. Any nectar that spilled on it will be a magnet for ants and wasps otherwise.

Store any unused nectar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

For the sake of the hummingbirds health and happiness, get into the habit of cleaning your feeder every time you change the nectar.

Why should I make my own hummingbird nectar?

  • Depending on where you live, hummingbird nectar may not be available during early spring and late fall when hummingbirds are migrating and need food. By making your own, you can ensure the first and last bird have something to eat.
  • Sure, it may involve a few more steps than simply adding a store-bought ready-to-use nectar to your feeder, but making homemade hummingbird nectar is still pretty simple.
  • Homemade hummingbird nectar is inexpensive.
  • Making your own homemade hummingbird nectar cuts out the unnecessary ingredients that many store-bought products contain.


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    • marleyjustine profile image

      Marley 2 years ago from Canada

      I haven't done any in-depth research on hummingbird nutrition. However, a lot of reputable sources such as the National Wildlife Federation encourage the use of homemade nectar (sugar water) in hummingbird feeders.

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 2 years ago from Upstate New York

      Interesting Hub but I wonder if nectar made with processed sugar is actually good for the hummingbirds given that their diet is based on flower nectar which is different. Have you researched hummingbird nutrition by chance?

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      It's quick, easy, and cheap to make hummingbird nectar, so that's what I always do. I like knowing exactly what ingredients they're getting. Love watching those adorable, amazing creatures slurp it all up!