The hummingbird feeder finally came down last night; for the past few days it has been frequently only by an increasing number of bees, rather than the summertime buzz of black chinned, broad tailed, and rufous hummingbirds. Bees' eagerness to mill around the nectar ports indicates that not only are there no hummingbirds to defend their food source, but there also are no flowers blooming any longer to provide sustenance to the bees. If there are no flowers for the bees, there will be none for hummingbirds.
When taking down a hummingbird feeder, it is necessary to clean it thoroughly (a bottle brush is very effective), including not only the reservoir but by using a small brush to clean any accumulation from the feeding ports. The feeder should be left to dry thoroughly so it does not gather mold or mildew during the winter months, and it should be stored in a safe place where it will not be stressed, cracked, or otherwise damaged.
Never fear, hummingbird lovers, in just a few months the spring flowers will be blooming again and it will be time to refill the nectar more and more frequently as migration and summer breeding begins. Knowing that, then, can take the sting out of winter's lack of hummingbird visitors.