Hummingbirds in the United States feed on flower nectar and many small insects. Your garden should provide a healthy, steady diet of both. Hummingbird Feeders:
Should be hung in the shade if possible and
should be cleaned and refilled every three to five days under normal circumstances.
Fill your hummingbird feeder with a solution of one part table sugar to four parts water, brought to a boil and then cooled and stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Your hummingbird feeder should not be filled with honey solutions, as they may produce a fungal disease fatal to hummingbirds.
Spread your hummingbird foods - flowers and feeders - throughout your entire garden to discourage dominance by any one bird. Hummingbird flowers, unlike flowers for butterflies, are attractive to these birds whether in the sun or shade. Hummingbirds in the east usually return in late March (south) to mid-May (north). They usually leave in early September (north) to late November (south). In the Deep South, more and more hummingbirds are overwintering. Hang your feeders accordingly. Pesticides, especially sprays, can be lethal to hummingbirds. Even if they do not take in enough nectar dosed with malathion, Sevin or diazinon to kill them directly, the number of small insects available to them in your garden will drop precipitously. This may cause starvation and/or death of the young.
Plants that Provide Nectar for Hummingbirds
If hummingbirds live in your area, you can attract them by planting red, tubular flowers. There are many red-flowered plants to choose from. Over 160 native, North American plants depend exclusively on hummingbirds for pollination. Many of the red-flowered annuals, perennials, vines, and shrubs available from mail order sources or local garden centers have been developed from the native red-flowered plants of the western hemisphere.
Here is a list of some of the plants that most successfully attract hummingbirds:
Scarlet morning glory
There are dozens of other plants, mostly red and tubular, that also work very well. Try a few new ones each year.
When should I take down my hummingbird feeder??
Hummingbirds will not delay migration if a feeder is present; they are driven by forces more powerful than hunger. If you live in the southeastern U.S., leaving a feeder up might attract one of the western hummers that visit the region in small numbers every winter. The Pacific coast of the U.S. (and extreme southwestern Canada) has a population of non-migratory Anna's Hummingbirds; if a feeder is maintained through the winter months, hummingbirds will visit it year-round. Some other locations near the Mexican border also have winter hummingbird populations of several hummingbird species.
If you live in the midwest, you can keep your hummingbird feeder up until the first frost in your area, this should allow any late migrating hummers to have a place to feed before their long journey south.
Information provided by the National Wildlife Federation
Tips for keeping bees away from your Hummingbird Feeder
Bees can sometimes be a problem at a hummingbird feeder but bees can be guided to a bowl filled with a 1 to 2 parts sugar/1part water mix. Place a bowl in a location not too far from the hummingbird feeder. If the plate or bowl is yellow that would be even better, because bees are attracted to the color yellow. The bees will, in most cases, move over to the bowl rather than the feeder. Once the bees are attracted to the bowl, move the bowl in a sunny spot a little farther away from the feeder, preferrably at night because there will be less activity. After a few days of moving the bowl, the bowl will be far enough away to allow hummingbirds to feed on their feeder rather than the bees. The bees will be at the decoy bowl.