Can Hummingbirds Eat Honey? (Explained)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

Can Humming birds eat honey? Definitely not!

Honey is a sticky sweet liquid produced by bees and it is not ideal for these birds. Its sticky and syrupy nature makes it difficult for the hummingbirds to fly or eat.

Honey is also more difficult for them to digest than granulated sugar. Maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar and powdered sugar should not be included in hummingbirds diet too.

This article will explain why it is not advisable to give honey to hummingbirds, and what you can give them instead

What is Honey?

Can Hummingbirds Eat Honey

Honey is a sweet, thick and sticky fluid that is produced by honeybees and some other relative insects.

It is usually made from floral nectar or honeydew and stored in large wax structures called honeycomb.

It is a very healthy liquid and can be used to prevent diseases and even as a natural sweetner.

Is Honey harmful to hummingbirds?

Despite the amazing benefits of honey, it can be quite harmful to hummingbirds. You may wonder why.

Read on. The answer is in the subsequent paragraphs.

  • Honey can be dangerous for hummingbirds .

The sticky nature of honey is dangerous for the birds. When they try to feed on it, it gets coated on their bills and feathers, making it impossible for them to feed or fly properly.

These often make the little birds vulnerable to predators.

  • Honey is not easily digestible for hummingbirds

Honey takes a longer time to digest, this, making it a wrong choice of diet for hummingbirds.

The difficulty in digestion can minimize their energy intake and feeding them honey would be unsafe for these birds with an active lifestyle

  • It can attract other creatures

Honey is known for it distinctive sweet taste and smell.

This often attracts other creatures like wasps, ants, praying mantis, bees, skunks and so on, keeping your hummingbirds away and even causing damage to your feeders too

  • It can lead to infection

Honey contains varieties of fungi and bacteria that can be harmful to the hummingbird’s health.

When you dilute the honey with water, fermentation can occur and when the birds feed on it, they can easily catch an infection.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on how do hummingbirds sleep?

What are the health benefits of honey to hummingbirds?

Honey does more bad than good to hummingbirds. It does not have any health benefits.

Even when diluted in water, it can ferment and create a deadly bacterium for the birds.

Do I need to boil sugar water for hummingbirds?

No, you do not need to boil sugar water for your hummingbirds. Just stir or shake your mixture until the sugar is fully dissolved in the water.

However, if you want the sugar to dissolve faster, you can put it in warm water, but not too hot.

This will make the sugar dissolve quickly.

Can hummingbirds have sugar water?

Yes, hummingbirds can have sugar water. It is more preferable to use white table sugar to make nectar for your hummingbirds.

Table sugar is closely related to the nectar found in flowers.

To make nectar for hummingbirds, you can mix one cup of table sugar to four cups of water.

Can hummingbirds have brown sugar?

Humming birds cannot have brown sugar.

Brown sugar contains molasses, which are high in iron, and unfortunately, hummingbirds have low tolerance to iron and it can kill them.

Brown sugar are also too heavy for hummingbirds to digest and it gives little or no nutritional benefit to the birds

Can you add honey to the hummingbirds nectar?

It is not advisable to add honey to hummingbirds nectar.

Honey, when mixed with water often ferment and produce bacteria and fungi which is quite toxic and can be harmful to the birds health.

Also, it is not easily digestible for hummingbirds. To digest honey requires a lot energy, and this is not advisable for your little birds with an active lifestyle.

The presence of bacteria and fungi in honey can as well, lead to infection for these birds.

In addition, the sweet nature of honey makes it attractable to other organism and you eventually find out that your hummingbirds have lot of unfriendly visitors when you decide to add honey to their nectar.

Instead of adding honey, you can use table sugar to make their nectar. It is healthy and more bird friendly.

Also check out this article I wrote on the way hummingbirds mate

How is hummingbird nectar made?

Making hummingbird nectar is actually easy, compared to what you may think. Its recipe is not time consuming as well.

In fact, it takes just 5-10 minutes to make.

First, get your white table sugar and water. While some people say spring water does the work effectively, others are quite comfortable with tap water.

The second and most important part of this recipe is the measurement.

It is important to note that the ratio of these ingredients should be 4:1, with four parts of the water and one part of the sugar.

After that, heat the water for a couple of minutes, enough to make it very warm but not hot.

Then, pour the water into a bowl and mix in the right quantity of table sugar into the water (The warm water will make mixing easier, as the sugar would dissolve very fast)

Stir the liquid until the sugar is completely dissolved. Your hummingbird nectar is ready!

You can serve it to your birds and store the remaining in the refrigerator.

Easy peasy! Right?


Having read through this article, you must have learned that hummingbirds can not, should not, and must not eat honey.

Honey has several sides effects for the birds, but an important one which should not forget is that it is difficult for the birds to digest it.

Asides honey, artificial maple syrup, brown sugar, powdered sugar and molasses should not be given to hummingbirds too.

They are high in iron, and can be detrimental to hummingbirds health

The ideal choice for hummingbirds nectar still remains granulated table sugar. You can therefore, use this when next you are making your hummingbirds food.

You’ll be glad you did so!

Do you enjoy this article? What can you say concerning your hummingbirds and their diet?

Do let us know in the comment section below!

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About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.


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