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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Dunn, North Carolina
    Posts
    30

    Post

    We have some poorly designed hivetop feeders which came free with some other equipment. They used floats and had no screens and drowned alot of bees. So I modified one (which I am using on a weak hive) by installing 1/4" screen in a "bell curve" pattern over the entrance to the feeder hoping to give the bees something to cling to. Now it seems that I have constructed a death trap as the number of bees drowning has doubled. Also, I cannot clean the dead bees out which are under the screen. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Whitefield, Maine USA
    Posts
    6,624

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    I can't really picture it and without knowing what it looks like, I can't suggest much except get another feeder, or keep experimenting. There's been a lot of discussion on this board about feeders in general and hive top feeders in particular- if you search around you'll find alot to read.

    Personally, I feel drowning bees to be totally unacceptable. I've drowned my share however. I finally built a pretty much standard miller-type feeder with a screen on the wall for the bees to use as a ladder and have drowned very few bees with it. I've also used chicken waterers with screen rings on them that didn't drown a single bee. I've also used the plastic-baggie-with-a-slit feeder that just sits on the inner cover.. those work, but they're messy. On my NUCs I use 1 quart plastic juice bottles with holes in the lid, stuck in a hole drilled in the lid.

    I won't use boardman feeders any more, I put one in a really hungry hive and in the press of bees to get in and get syrup, many bees got trampled and drowned. It was ugly. I've never tried a division board (replaces a frame in the hive) feeder but the old style looks like a perfect drowning mechanism to me. Newer ones supposedly have a float that works. Dunno.

    George-
    Dulcius ex asperis

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Troupsburg, NY
    Posts
    4,074

    Post

    This is how you fix your hivetop feeder. Get a glass jar, quart,gallon, whatever, fill it with syrup, put the cover on and poke a few very small holes in it, half a dozen or so, take that to your hive, remove the hivetop feeder and invert the jar over an inner cover, place a hive body on the hive, replace cover. Pick up hivetop feeder and throw into jingle weeds as far as possible :&gt.

    peggjam
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Whitefield, Maine USA
    Posts
    6,624

    Post

    How do you REALLY feel about hive top feeders peggjam? Come on, don't mince your words, we can take it!

    Inverted jars with holes in the lid work great as long as the bees have good access so they don't get caught in the feeding crush. I pretty much gave up on hive top feeders when I got a lot of hives- properly designed they're OK if you have 2-3 hives IMHO, and I still have a couple for use on hives with "special needs". I even built one on my modified design for a 5 frame nuc, but frankly, putting hive top feeders on 20-something hives just costs too much in time and money.

    If/when I need to feed a lot of bees I'll probably use 5 gallon pails with screened floats of some sort.

    George-
    Dulcius ex asperis

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Troupsburg, NY
    Posts
    4,074

    Post

    George:

    They are poorly designed, expensive death traps for the bees. While it is more work to use inverted jars, in all the years of using them I have never lost a newly hived package with one. Something I can't say about hivetop feeders. Their design puts the feed to far out of reach of the bees in cooler weather, and without modification the bees won't use them. There are things made that are designed to get beeks money, and little more, and this is one of those products.

    peggjam
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,810

    Post

    Make the screen so there is only a 1/4" space around the "dam" and it goes STRAIGHT down into the syrup all the way to the bottom. With just one beespace they will have less problems. You'll have to pull your old curved screen off to get rid of the dead bees and cut or recut the screen.

    You've hit on one of the things I don't like about hive top feeders.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
    Posts
    4,361

    Post

    Do a search for Poor Man's Rapid Feeder...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Post

    The Styrofoam hive-top feeders are really very
    good. Very few drowned bees, zero if you fold
    some screen mesh around the "lip" over which
    they climb.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Conway, AR
    Posts
    439

    Post

    The division board feeders work well. The ones I have include a piece of aluminum screen that is accordioned so there are multiple folds for the bees to climb down. I hardly ever see a dead bee in these.
    I prefer the hive top feeder, however. I make my own and haven't seen a problem with the ones deigned like Miller did his. The one thing I don't like about them is the syrup is unavailable at one end when the syrup level is low and the hive isn't level. Also, sealing up the joints is a tedious task. I am in the process of designing a single entry feeder whose access to the syrup will be on the downhill side and have a plastic tub for the syrup. I like the idea of the accordioned screen wire to assist the bees from drowning, and since the plastic tub will be slick, I'll probably use something like that to remove this hazard.
    Jon, N6VC/5

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    1,933

    Post

    I left my hive top feeders at a previous residence. Had planned on making purple martin bird houses with them but never got around to it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Conway, AR
    Posts
    439

    Post

    MichaelW,
    What kind were they? Did they provide a means for the bees to climb in and out? There are several designs floating around and I have only had experience with the ones I built. The thing I like about them is the hold a lot of syrup without taking room away from the interior of the hive and on cold, late winter days, I don't have to expose the hive to feed them.
    Jon, N6VC/5

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    1,933

    Post

    I built mine too. They had floats. I started to screen in a tunnel but I stoped using them for other reasons. A friend that tunneled his had drowning too anyway. The final straw was when the sugar water fermented and killed a hive. I'd peer down the crack during cold weather and see them wanting to come up and feed but they wouldn't. Some hives starved with plenty of syrup and I could tell they were not eating any. Floating dead bees would have shown me they were making it up there. I like the jar top feeders way better. So far no fermenting, the bees can get to it when its cold, I've overwintered very light colonies feeding with jars. The hives where light enough to pick up the whole hive. You can clean the jars between refilling to prevent fermentation. I waste alot less sugar water by feeding the smaller amounts at a time. I mostly use quarts. Its easy to switch empty jars with full ones in the winter as I set the jars over the hole in the inner cover. I don't know how scalable it would be, but I think gallon pails pretty much sove that problem.

    Its just what I like to use.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Conway, AR
    Posts
    439

    Post

    I started with empty 3 liter soda bottles, but they fed too slow. I tried the quart jars. Then I had to deal with capping the holes when I wasn't feeding and they didn't hold enough syrup. The division board feeders worked really well, but I had to open the hive to refill them.
    I've never tried floats. I have read where bulk feeders in the open, using floats were successful. I've never tried feeding in the open other than getting combs cleaned out.
    Jon, N6VC/5

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,525

    Post

    I don't believe in feeding unless it's necessary to save a hive. When it's absolutely necessary, i'm with Peggjam. One gallon Pickle Jars.

    Hawk
    KC0YXI

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Conway, AR
    Posts
    439

    Post

    Hi Robert,

    There are several reasons for feeding besides saving a hive from starvation.
    Jon, N6VC/5

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,525

    Post

    spring buildup, fall buildup, for brood stimulation. Yep Several reasons but all negated by the hazards of bad feeders, robbing, cockroaches, ants, misjudging the time, etc.

    Hawk
    KC0YXI

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Conway, AR
    Posts
    439

    Post

    Yep, but rewarded when you get it right.
    I keep hearing this ant thing from beginners to the experienced beekeeper. I have grease ants, wood ants and wood roaches around my hives, but I have never seen them create a problem.
    Jon, N6VC/5

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