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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,161

    Default Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    Reading a lot of posts about people losing bees to drowning when they feed syrup.

    A float, or a few things floating on the syrup might look like they will work, but often the bees drown.

    So I've posted a pic of a good way to do it, this way I've never lost more than the odd bee.

    It's barley straw although other straws could be used, but barley is a good one. The feeder has to be stuffed full of staw from top to bottom so it's just not possible for the bees to drown. A bit floating on top is just not going to cut the mustard.

    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clay Count, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    819

    Default Re: Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    Are you drenching the straw so the bees are expected to climb around on it? Or do you put the feed in the feeder and then stuff it with straw?
    Try living life with the attitude it's not about what you want to do but what you should do!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,161

    Default Re: Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    The straw goes in first then after that the feeder can be filled with syrup there's enough straw the bees always got something to stand on. Looks like overkill but if you don't have heaps of straw for them it's likely some will drown.

    BTW in this feeder there are two plastic containers with a gap between them in the middle, that's where the bees get in and out. Just incase it's hard to see in the pic.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Benton, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    I use some left over wood shims as floats in my feeder.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,161

    Default Re: Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    Well perhaps that has worked for you, and some people do get away with floats. But the reason I posted this is because I see people using floats and asking why they are losing bees. Often the float will become almost submerged, have hundreds or even more bees on it, they get sticky and cannot extract themselves.

    With straw set up as shown, which does not move, it is always possible for a bee to crawl out and save itself, losses of more than the odd bee don't happen.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Glencoe, Okla USA
    Posts
    317

    Default Re: Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    Do you leave the barley straw in the feeder all winter or does it need to be replaced after a peroid of time?
    You say your feeder is two plastic containers with a gap between them in the middle, what was the plastic container originally?
    How much syrup does it take to fill it?
    Do you fill it or is it important to keep the syrup fresh?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,161

    Default Re: Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    The feeder may sit there all winter but the straw will be a bit icky by spring if it did.

    The containers, in this case, where made specifically to make this type of bee feeder. But Barley straw can be used in any feeder that the bees enter to get the surup including feeders that hang next to the frames. The trick is just to ensure they are totally stuffed full of straw, and losing bees will be a thing of the past.

    How much syrup, to be honest I'm not sure. When I was a commercial beekeeper we used top feeders that could hold 4 gallons. But now I only have thirty hives as a retirement hobby, I own this one feeder, that sits in the shed " just incase", it's rarely used, I don't actually know the size.

    How much to feed? When I was doing it commercially, the area I worked in the bees needed the equivalent of 6 full combs to get through winter. So during the wintering down process if they had less than that they were given either more comb honey, or a top feeder with the appropriate amount of syrup. It would all be taken down in a few days. We did not go back to remove the feeders though they stayed on all winter and were removed during the first spring round. BTW we never fed syrup in spring, if any feeding was needed it would be comb honey.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    willington, Connecticut
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    I have found using paint stirrers work great in top hive feeders and the Mann Lake feeders which I use the most . They float on the syrup and give the bees a place to walk and a way to climb out. In addition my local hardware gives me the stirrers for free.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kaysville, Utah, USA
    Posts
    392

    Default Re: Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    I think that's a dang good idea! Thanks for sharing.
    Don't provoke a hive full of angry bees.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,949

    Default Re: Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    good tip ot!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Halls TN USA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Bees Drowning In Sugar Syrup

    I built a hive top feeder and have not lost a bee except for bad craftmanship on my part, the design is for sale on the Fatbee mans web sight www.dixiebeesupply.com the shoot is a little trickey to build it takes a little work to get it right but it is a good design. I did have good luck with it last year,

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