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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    florence, sc usa
    Posts
    70

    Default feeding bees in a topbar hive

    I'm going to start a couple of topbar hives this spring and was wondering what is the best way to feed the bees if it becomes necessary. I was thinking of buying a boardman feeder and cut a slot in one of the follower boards for the bees to access it. All sugestions will be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    637

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    I feed either with mason jars/bucket feeders on the floor of the hive on the side of the follower WITH the bees. Elevate the jars/buckets off the floor with sticks or something so the bees can move under and feed. The advantage of putting them on the side of the follower with the bees is that it's easier for them to access. The disadvantage is that you have to monitor it more closely to ensure they don't start building comb around your feeder(s)! Boardman feeders should work fine, too.

    Best,
    Matt

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    I have tried a number of feeders in my first year. Baggie feeders work well because you can slide them in easily under comb so the bees are close to the feeder. They seem to take this very well. I tried jar feeders on both sides of the follower board and the location didn't really seem to change much and the bees took it very slowly. I also tried 1 gallon ice cream pails on the empty side of the hive. I just tossed some stuff in the top to prevent bees from drowning. Bees drowned with corks. Thinking of cutting them up and trying them again. I also tried very small pieces of scrap wood and that worked very well. No bees drowned and they downed the syrup very very quickly. I now plan on using this to feed my bees when using syrup in both my TBH and Warre hives.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    I have had good success with external feeders mounted to the rear of the hive. Two wooden dowels with smaller holes drilled in center penetrate the rear of the hive and give bees access to the feeder. The Bee Keeper can monitor and re-fill the sugar water from the outside and the box prevents unwanted robbers from access. An earlier version used wood chips for floaters to prevent the bees from drowning, but this version has a floating wooden block which keeps most of the bees out of the liquid. Holes in the floating block allow them access to the liquid and they can transfer about a gallon within a day or two..

    The following a link to pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/4072561...7628072550655/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    That is amazing! What type of wood did you use to build your equipment! I wish I had your skill!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    I enjoy woodworking as a hobby, so the bees have given me an excuse to build things for them. We started off with a single hive that my wife 'thought would look good in our back yard'. This has now evolved to 4 hives in a city back yard. The lumber is Cypress and nothing that you can't try to 'knock off'. Cypress works well and is suppose to resist the weather elements as well.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Branson, MO
    Posts
    576

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    I just use a chicken waterer and set it away from the hive.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
    Posts
    318

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    I cut a slot in the end of my hive to fit the base of a Boardman feeder. The jar is outside but the bees can only get to it from the inside. rlw4342's design is nice, but mine is much simpler. There's a picture of it on my site link at the bottom of this posting.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Fitzgerald, Ga, 31750, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    Quote Originally Posted by rlw4342 View Post
    I enjoy woodworking as a hobby, so the bees have given me an excuse to build things for them. We started off with a single hive that my wife 'thought would look good in our back yard'. This has now evolved to 4 hives in a city back yard. The lumber is Cypress and nothing that you can't try to 'knock off'. Cypress works well and is suppose to resist the weather elements as well.
    Have u tried any other kind of wood? I am planning to build some various types of TBH and Warre using cypress wood and sealing the exterior with clear sealer.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    I used plywood on some early versions, with bad experience, so since have only used Cypress. I find it to be relatively inexpensive, works well, and from all indications is one of the best woods to withstand the external weather conditions. I have used some oil based sealers on the outside, but generally painted external surfaces with latex based exterior paint.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Fitzgerald, Ga, 31750, USA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    Quote Originally Posted by rlw4342 View Post
    I used plywood on some early versions, with bad experience, so since have only used Cypress. I find it to be relatively inexpensive, works well, and from all indications is one of the best woods to withstand the external weather conditions. I have used some oil based sealers on the outside, but generally painted external surfaces with latex based exterior paint.
    I have read some people use 20:1 ratio of linseed oil and beeswax to seal hive exterior; do u know of any body who has used this method- if so, how affective and how durable? Thanks

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Victoria, Texas, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    When I have fed in a hive it always seems to get robbed. I now just put ziplock bags on stumps about 20 feet in front of the hives, and let the bees sort out who gets how much.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hephzibah, GA
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    I'm going to try periscope entrances on my hives. I've heard claims that they reduce robbing to about nil, and small hive beetles also have trouble navigating them, so they reduce beetle populations significantly as well.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    626

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    I used the inverted mason jars with a little stand for them to fit into that I left in the hive. They worked okay, bees took it fairly slow.

    I also tried straight sided jars with a tube of aluminum screen put inside to the bottom and then folded down over the top of the jar and secured in the recess there by a light weight wire. You have to be careful there are no holes or openings that the bees could use to get behind the screen. Fill it with syrup, throw some little pieces of empty comb on top for bee floats, and put it in the hive. They were able to take the syrup from that a lot faster. I did have to watch for robbing a bit more since it lets the syrup smell travel more than the inverted jar. You also have to watch it because they will start attaching the little comb peices if you don't get it refilled or out of the hive quick enough. They are quick to make and I could put a couple in if I was trying to get the syrup to them really quick to encourage comb drawing.
    3rd yr - 1 KTBH & 4 KTBH nucs - TF - USDA Zn 6b

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Falls Church, VA
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: feeding bees in a topbar hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Cacklewack View Post
    I feed either with mason jars/bucket feeders on the floor of the hive on the side of the follower WITH the bees. Elevate the jars/buckets off the floor with sticks or something so the bees can move under and feed. The advantage of putting them on the side of the follower with the bees is that it's easier for them to access. The disadvantage is that you have to monitor it more closely to ensure they don't start building comb around your feeder(s)! Boardman feeders should work fine, too.

    Best,
    Matt
    If I might add something I'm trying this year; elevate the feeding bucket such that a small lid/dish filled with veggie oil can be slipped under it. in the center of this dish, place an inverted soft drink cap filled with apple cider vinegar.
    this is a variation on last year's observation: I put apple cider vinegar in the syrup to slow down fermentation and collected a large number of SHB larva (along with drowned bees).

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