About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The recipe for nectar (sugar water): Do you need to boil it?

To make nectar that is a little bit stronger than flower nectar, use a ratio of 4:1. That would be four parts water to one part plain white sugar. You may be tempted to use honey, turbinado sugar, drink mixes or brown sugar, but this is not a good idea. These sugars contain too many minerals for the hummingbird's system and can cause illness or death.

Powdered or confectioners sugar should not be used either. Powdered sugar has cornstarch added to it and that will cause the nectar to ferment.

Color isn’t required. There have never been any scientific studies done to prove red dye harms hummingbirds, but they come to clear nectar (sugar water) so leave it clear just in case the red is bad for the birds. 
The recipe for nectar (sugar water):
  • Stir in one part ordinary white sugar into four parts hot water to dissolve the sugar.
  • It's not necessary to boil the water. The microorganisms that cause fermentation don't come from the water; they are transported to the feeder on hummingbird bills.
  • Store unused nectar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
This mixture imitates the average sucrose content (about 21%) of the flowers favored by North American hummingbirds.

Make sure to change the nectar and wash your feeder at least once a week until the weather is above 70°F, then you should change the nectar and wash the feeder at least twice a week. These weekly washes can be with just hot water if you don't see any mold. But at least once a month the feeders should be thoroughly washed and rinsed. I like to use Hummeze but you could also use a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water to soak the feeder and then rinse very well.

Related Articles:

Hummeze cleans feeders http://clean-feeders for-hummingbirds.html
The best Oriole feeders http://best-oriole fdrs.html
What’s the best bee-proof hummingbird feeder? http://goo.gl/PcLeyD
Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder? http://bit.ly/H2U4P4
My favorite hummingbird and oriole feeders http://favorite-hummingbird-and-oriole.html
 

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