It is amazing! I just drizzled some old honey I had in a saucer and put it on the banister of my deck that is about 100 feet from my hives and in less than 10 minutes it was TOTALLY covered with bees! They were flying everywhere.
My question is: Is there a way to open feed honey in a larger quantity without the bees getting drowned?
There are a number of ways to open feed, but a simple one is to use some frames of drawn comb. Lay them on their side and just fill the comb with honey or syrup.
I put 7-8 frame feeders in a box. Fill them, prop the lid open some.
I just set boardman feeders on a tree stump.
Is this a good will exercise, or do you think you are feeding your own bees?
When you open feed you get solitary bees, wasps, flies of several varieties, your bees and any other bee that happens to be in the neighborhood.
On Sunday a friend called me and told me that one of his hives was being robbed. When I arrived the sky was dark with bees, but no other hive in his yard was agitated.
Coming out of his hive were dozens of bright yellow, black banded wasps, some flies, a bumblebee or two, two kinds of small solitary bee and thousands of our common honeybee. The honeybees were of about a half dozen colors and shades.
When I stepped back and looked I could see that the sky out over his meadow was full of bees coming from and going to the robbing. So far as I could tell none were his bees---they were lining out for parts unknown.
My buddy had stored about 8 gallons of honey on this hive, waiting time to uncap and extract it. Perhaps a half gallon was left. I had looked at the hive two days earlier and it was fine. We took the "stored supers" off the rest of his hives.
Yes I think it is good. 99% honeybees observed, not other beekeepers within miles, and surely not as many wild hives are getting sugar as are my managed hives. It also keeps me from going into my suit and opening up the hives.
This is how I do it. I use a pan that is 4-5 inches deep. The one you use for turkey basting. Holds about 3 gallons of syrup. Feeds about 36 hives for six frantic hours. Bees happy - me happy - queen happy - in fact everyone happy.
I put three shallow frames in the pan. One is laying down in the middle of the pan and the other two are standing (like a normal frame would in the hive) on each side. The bees fly to the frames that are standing and walk down the comb to eat the syrup. The frame in the middle that is laying down will be a float where if by chance a bee falls in can climb out on and get cleaned up. I also have this set up about 300 feet away from the hives and they have to go over the tops of some trees to get to the feeding station. In the summer they would have me figured out and be waiting for me to bring the sugar syrup. Some how I don't remember giving them a watch but they did know at what time I'd be there to feed them Smart little ladies!
I hope this helps.
I have to say that I am not concerned with the "strangers" that I am feeding. The vast majority of honey bees are from my yards. I know by watching their coming and going.
I have been open feeding on average 4 - 5 gallons per day, when they can fly and they are flying at fairly cold temps. It is 44F in the shade right now. But, the hives and feeders are in full sun and they are going wild.
Any feral honey bees / other domestic bees being feed only help me if they make it through the winter and I open mate next years queens.
I also pick up swarms from them next spring as well.
I field-feed my bees expressly for that reason--to avoid "strangers" robbing out the hives. If food is readily available in the field, the aliens won't bother my girls at home. I don't mind spending a little extra on sugar for the peace of mind of not seeing yellow jackets and the like entering my hives in droves. Actually, it's fascinating to watch.