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Thread: Open feeding

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    94

    Default Open feeding

    I like the option of feeding sugar syrup in buckets like in the April 2009 ABJ article Commercial Beekeeping 101. Any suggestions on the size of the holes drilled in the side of the buckets? anyone familiar with Dave Menedez methods?

    Dan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    1,697

    Default Re: Open feeding

    open feeding has some advantaged over single hive feeding
    Advantages:
    -when time is short, the ability to get feed into the bees more quickly
    -time and money saver, one feeding station rather than 1-25 feeders

    Disadvantages:
    -can not regulate or know if the weaker hives are getting enough food
    -can not control disease because every bee is at one station...cross contamination

    In Ontario the OMAFRI (sp), was working with beekeepers who were having severe losses over the winter. Some of the things they looked at was open feeding. The found open feeding was a contributer to the spread of diseases, and worked hard at convincing the farmers to go to single feeders. They discovered that the mortality rate dropped, bees came out of winter healther and the amounts of nosema dropped in the hives. It was one of the changes they helped farmers implement. One of the ladies involved in working with the beekeepers in that area came out and gave a talk at the Manitoba Beekeepers convention in Feb '09.


    we did open feeding in two yards last fall because with flooding we had a hard time getting to the hives when we needed to. We used rubber maid tubs, drilled a pinkie sizes holes in the sides and then put straw in as a floater. Alot of bees drowned. We ended up putting wood under the straw to help it "float" better. Would i do it again, maybe in a pinch. I prefer the single feeding method.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,658

    Default Re: Open feeding

    I've done open feeding with buckets in several ways. One way I used 5lb honey buckets, drilled a ring of 1/16" holes around the rim, right next to the lip of the lid when it was in place. Filled the bucket, put on the lid, turned upside down inside an empty box on top of the top bars. you could also do this one in an open feeder arrangement.

    I do bottle feeding thru a hole in my migratory covers, I put 3 holes 1/16" drill bit in the lids of plastic pepsi bottles and turn upside down into the holes I drilled into the migratory covers.

    I've taken 5 gallon buckets and cut the bottom out of one, filled it with 1/16" holes and let it float on top of syrup in another bucket. The plastic bottom full of holes floats well enough to hold the bees up as they drink. I bet this one would work without drilling any holes as there is a small space all the way around the floating bottom they could drink from while standing high and dry on the solid plastic bottom floater.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tulare County, CA USA
    Posts
    1,380

    Default Re: Open feeding

    I use a five gallon bucket from a homebrewing supply company that has a hole cut for a spigot on the bottom and a hole for an airlock in the lid with a dog waterer attatched. I cut the spigot off and turned the assembly around so that I have threaded pipe coming out the side of the bucket and I cover the airlock hole with mesh so the feed will flow without bees getting into the bucket and then I attach an automatic dog waterer filled with gravel to the pipe thread.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    432

    Default Re: Open feeding

    I'd take a lot of convincing to go back to feeding individual hives. The key to using open feeding is to have easy access for the bees so they can fly in and out -- I use 2 inch holes along the side of a rubbermaid tub. There needs to be a good wood float structure under the straw and a lot of surface area. I use one 20 gallon tub for every ten hives.

    Once the bees are familiar with with the food source they will feed at temperatures as low as 6 or 7 C. When I think of how many day I use to spend feeding individuals compared to a couple of days now I just shake my head. Of course, if other beeks have yards close by, your syrup cost are going to go way up.

    As far as weaker hives goes, they probably don't need as much feed anyways and the big ones often need more.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Montgomery County, MD, USA
    Posts
    115

    Default Re: Open feeding

    In my area open feeding this time of the year gets robbing going like the wild fires of California. Any of you have this type of problems and how do you control/avoid it?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Abbotsford B.C. Canada
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: Open feeding

    Since I was having trouble with in hive feeding causing robbing, I decided to try a community feeder. There's lots of talk about it causing robbing, so a couple of tips I am trying are to make sure it's far enough from the hives, I am also scenting it with Lavendar EO to give it a unique identity, and use a setup that is not easily defendable. I've read it helps to choose a location that the bees have to "navigate" too as opposed to being a straight shot. As far as a hive trying to take ownership, with 3 hives I am using a medium (2.73G) pet waterer with gravel in the bowl, and am monitoring the fighting, but it may help to use a larger feeding area or multiple feeders depending on number of hives. So far I am happy with how things are going, they are much more interested in the feeder than robbing each other so far. Giving it a unique scent just seemed to make scents.

    Good luck.

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