Can You Use Honey Instead Of Sugar For Hummingbird Feeder?

No, it is not recommended to use honey instead of sugar in your hummingbird feeder. The primary reason for this is the high water content in honey, which creates a conducive environment for bacteria and fungus to grow. When honey is diluted with water, it can turn into a breeding ground for harmful organisms that can adversely affect hummingbirds.

Additionally, honey contains proteins and minerals not found in sugar solutions. While these nutrients may be beneficial to humans, they are not necessarily advantageous for hummingbirds. In fact, some of these nutrients can be detrimental to the birds’ health.

To provide a safe and healthy food source for hummingbirds, it is best to use a simple sugar solution. A mixture of one part white granulated sugar and four parts water is ideal. This 1:4 ratio closely mimics the sugar concentration found in natural nectar sources, which hummingbirds are adapted to consume. It is essential to avoid using artificial sweeteners, brown sugar, or any other sweeteners, as these can be harmful to hummingbirds as well.

To maintain a clean and safe hummingbird feeder, make sure to change the sugar solution every 2-3 days and clean the feeder regularly. This will help prevent the growth of bacteria and mould, ensuring that the hummingbirds visiting your feeder stay healthy and happy.

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Can You Use Honey Instead of Sugar for Hummingbird Feeder(1)

What Are the Benefits of Using Sugar in Hummingbird Feeders? 

One of the main benefits of using sugar in hummingbird feeders is that it is simple to create a sugar solution and use it in your feeder. All you need to do is boil one part sugar with four parts water, and you have a solution that will attract hummingbirds. Because sugar has a lower water content than honey, it is much less likely to host bacteria or other harmful organisms.

Additionally, the simple sugar solution contains only what hummingbirds need—sugar, which provides energy and helps them build up fat reserves for long-distance migration. 

What Are the Drawbacks of Using Honey Instead of Sugar

What Are the Drawbacks of Using Honey Instead of Sugar? 

There are several drawbacks to using honey instead of sugar, particularly when it comes to hummingbird feeders. These drawbacks include the following:

  1. Bacterial and fungal growth: Honey has a higher water content compared to sugar, which makes it more susceptible to bacterial and fungal growth. When honey is diluted with water for use in a hummingbird feeder, it can become a breeding ground for harmful organisms that can negatively impact the birds’ health.
  2. Nutrient composition: Honey contains proteins, minerals, and other nutrients that are not present in sugar solutions. While these nutrients can be beneficial for humans, they may not be suitable for hummingbirds. Some of these nutrients can even be harmful to hummingbirds, causing issues with their digestion or overall health.
  3. Fermentation: Honey can ferment more quickly than sugar solutions, particularly when exposed to warm temperatures. Fermented honey can be dangerous for hummingbirds, as it can cause illness or even death.
  4. Attracting unwanted insects: Using honey in a hummingbird feeder can attract ants, bees, and other insects that may prevent hummingbirds from accessing the feeder. These insects are attracted to the scent and taste of honey, which can lead to overcrowding and competition for the food source.

To avoid these drawbacks and ensure the health and safety of hummingbirds, it is best to use a simple sugar solution (one part white granulated sugar to four parts water) in hummingbird feeders.

As mentioned earlier, this solution does resemble the natural nectar that hummingbirds are adapted to consume and does not pose the same risks as honey. Remember to change the sugar solution every 2-3 days and clean the feeder regularly to prevent bacterial and fungal growth.

Can Honey Attract Bees To Hummingbird Feeder? 

Using honey in a hummingbird feeder can indeed attract bees, as they are also drawn to sweet substances. To deter bees from dominating your hummingbird feeder and to maintain a bird-friendly environment, you can follow several precautionary measures. Firstly, ensure that the area surrounding the feeder is kept clean by consistently wiping away any spilt sugar water.

Opt for using a sugar solution instead of honey, and select a feeder designed with smaller openings that only hummingbirds can access. Lastly, it is essential to replace the nectar solution in the feeder at least every few days, as bees tend to be more attracted to fresher nectar. By implementing these steps, you can effectively minimize the presence of bees around your hummingbird feeder.


In conclusion, it is strongly advised against using honey as a substitute for sugar in hummingbird feeders, as previously discussed, due to the potential harm it may cause the birds rather than providing any benefits.

Opting for sugar is a much safer choice, as it supplies hummingbirds with the essential components they require—sugar and water. Furthermore, using sugar significantly reduces the likelihood of attracting bees to your feeder, ensuring a more bird-friendly environment.

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References: HummingbirdBird Feeder.

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