This article is from the Birds FAQ, by Lanny Chambers with numerous contributions by others.
Mix four measures of water and one measure of white table sugar;
stir until the sugar dissolves. Boiling the water before measuring may
delay spoilage in the feeder by a day or so; if you do boil, allow the
mixture to cool before filling your feeder. There have been reports
that cane sugar is much preferred over beet sugar. Under no
circumstances use honey, brown sugar, or artificial sweeteners.
There is no need to color the syrup. Hummingbirds will take syrup
from any suitable dispenser regardless of the syrup's color, although in
many tests they preferred clear syrup over colored. It does help,
however, if the dispenser itself is at least partly red. You can advertise
more blatantly by adding some fluorescent red or orange surveyor's
tape, which emits ultraviolet light, to which hummingbirds are
Change the syrup and meticulously clean the feeder at the first sign of
cloudiness, which is caused by bacterial growth. In hot weather, that
might be every day or two. Black mold is best removed by soaking the
feeder in a 10% bleach solution, or by soaking in vinegar.
Providing only sugar-water syrup to hummingbirds does not endanger
their diet. They do need protein, but they eat insects and spiders to
For more information on hummingbirds, see: