- pour four cups of hot tap water into a large pot or pan (glass, enamel, or stainless steel, if possible; try not to use aluminum).
- Add one cup of table sugar (DO NOT use honey, artificial sweeteners, or other sugar substitutes).
- Stir until all sugar has dissolved.
- Cover the pan, place on a hot burner, and bring the mix to a rolling boil for 1-2 minutes; be careful not to let water evaporate (if you do, the mix can become too concentrated).
- Let mix cool and pour into in well-cleaned feeders.
- Boiling, which retards mold growth, is NOT necessary if your hummingbirds are draining the feeders within three days.
- Red food coloring is unnecessary, especially after birds have found the feeders; besides, modern hummingbird feeders all have red plastic bases and/or yellow flowers the birds can easily see. NOTE: There is no evidence that food coloring currently available in grocery stores or in commercial hummingbird nectar mixes is harmful to humans or to hummingbirds, but it IS an additive.
- Store excess mix in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (check for fermentation or mold; if the mix is cloudy, discard it). Some people freeze their mix and safely store it for much longer periods. In any case, let mix warm to room temperature before filling feeders.
- The water:sugar ratio of 4:1 is typical of the sugar concentration found in many flowers used by hummingbirds. There is no concrete evidence stronger sugar concentrations will hurt hummingbirds, but even a 3:1 mix spoils much faster than 4:1, and 2:1 is too syrupy and a real waste of sugar. In hot weather when energy demands are not as high for hummingbirds, you can even cut the mix back to 5:1 or 6:1 and save even more money on sugar.
Native Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) I would recommend purchasing this plant from a native plant sale, or a native plant nursery. If you try to purchase this from a local hardware store, or a non-native nursery, they may be trying to sell the Japanese version of the plant as the native version! The Japanese version will spread, and it is very invasive. Make sure that you are purchasing the correct plant.