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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    192

    Default Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    It seens like lots of people are struggling with feeding in top bar hives. I thought I would post some ideas I have about making a top feeder for top bar hives. I have attached a drawing of my idea. I would really be interested in peoples thoughts of this idea. I have never built one of these, and I don't have any bees to test it on, so any inputs would be interesting.

    Here is the drawing of the feeder.

    topbarfeeder.png

    This drawing shows the feeder with the top partly open. The top is hinged so that it can easily be opened for inspection, insertion or removal of patties or fondant or whatever is being fed.

    The top would be made of 1/4 inch plywood. The frame could be made of 1 x stock of any size,
    ripped down to the appropriate height. In the drawing it is depicted as inch in height. This might be a little cramped. The frame could be glued and nailed together. The length of the box from left to right in the drawing would be unimportant. In the drawing it is 5 inches, but could be much longer. The width of the frame would be the same as the width of the hive. The “teeth” sticking down go between a pair of top bars on the hive to provide an entrance to the feeder box. The “teeth” are glued into a dado in the frame. The dado shown is 3/8 inch deep. Since my top bars are inch high, the tooth sticks down inch from the frame to make a tight seal on the hive, so the total height of the tooth is 1 1/8 inch. The width of the tooth isn’t critical as long as it seals the side of the hive, but would probably be 3/4 inch also.

    The feeder could be placed between any top bar desired and could be adjusted to keep it above the cluster in winter for maximum feeding efficiency.

    This idea could also be built right into a plywood hive lid by cutting the desired size hole in the top and putting another top over that. The "teeth" could be replaced with spacers so that the entrance into the feeder remained flexible. The spacers could be taped to the adjacent top bars to keep them from falling into the hive. Of course you would want to design this so rain and wind wouldn't leak into the hive through the feeder.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Marysville, WA
    Posts
    473

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    Interesting design. I think it would work just fine. Build it and let us know how it went. When I started messing with TBH's I played with different ideas and some worked well and others not so much. I have since gone to a very simplistic approach with my TBH's. If I need to feed I use a simple 3" wide bar with a hole and place a jar on top. I leave most of the honey in the hive for winter which generally keeps me from having to mess with it though.
    That being said, design and build things and decide for yourself if it works well enough to continue. I haven't regreted it.

    Mike
    Beekeeper? Shoot, my bees keep me!
    100 hives in Western Wa State

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Lafollette,Tennessee,USA
    Posts
    177

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    I have to agree with Mike, it should work just fine. My only problem would be that I would have to change my hive roof to allow room for it. If your hive is blessed with enough attic space, you could build it a little deeper and add a "dam" to the inside so you could feed wet or dry.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    I have designed my hives so that I can add a boardman feeder on one end, so liquid feeding is not difficult. My hives do have an attic so there is plenty of room for it in there. I built one and will post pictures of it when I get a chance. My major concern with it is when the bees start building comb on the spacer bar.

    Hopefully I will never have to use it. I am planning to do honey havesting in the spring at the moment, but I guess the bees will have to tell me what they need when I get them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,920

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    I just made a hole in the lid near the very back to feed from an inverted jar. I remove one bar, and plugged the holes left on the end with some aluminum foil to keep out robbers. My entrance is in the other end so the brood nest stays right inside the entrance - long before I need to put that one bar back in it will be time to stop feeding. I always cover the feed jar with a coffee can or styro big gulp cup to keep the sun from heating up the syrup and forcing it out. It's easy and it works.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    I built one of these and took some pictures to post here. This feeder is for dry food only. For syrup, I use a boardman feeder on the end of the hive. The first picture just shows the feeder. I modified my plan so that the area inside the feeder is only a few inches wide, so the bar spacers stick out on either side of the feeder the width of the top bars. This whole thing took me about 30 minutes to make.

    TopFeederS.JPG

    I will have to fill in the knot hole at the top so the feeder is bee tight. The next picture shows the feeder bottom, so the details of the spacers can be seen.

    FeederBottomS.jpg

    The next picture shows the feeder installed in one of my hives from the far end. The feeder is designed to go above the brood nest or cluster during the winter time if necessary to provide easy feeding opportunities to the bees. The feeder requires an "attic" space above the hive, although it could be designed for other configurations also. To install the feeder, the bars are pushed toward the back of the hive. It would probably require removing the last bar and putting a spacer in at the back to close the hive. In this picture you can see the feeder spacers sticking up higher than the bars on either side of the feeder, sealing the top of the hive.

    FeederInstalled2S.jpg

    The bees are free to come up and snack on whatever is laid on the top bars inside the feeder. Obviously when in use, you would need to put a cover onto the feeder. Since this is designed for cold weather feeding, a cover would be required to both keep the bees in and the heat from the hive in. I decided not to use an attached cover. I will just put a piece of plastic or thin plywood on top without fastening it at all so it is easy to remove when inspecting or stocking the feeder.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Falls Church, Va
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    I've mostly use a milk carton with the top cut off. For a bee ladder I insert a wide band of window screen pushed down to the bottom. The long ends of the screen overlap the edges of the carton and touch either one or both sides of the hive. Simply slide it back when they start building comb above it.

    Another mod I've enjoyed is setting up a siphon that eliminates spills and minimizes drowned bees. I simply put aquarium hose into the feeder through a small hole in the top bar. On the outside end of the hose is a valve. When I feed I simply put my pale on the top of the hive, attaching another hose to the valve and siphon away.

    Stuart

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    499

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    Quote Originally Posted by taydeko View Post
    It seens like lots of people are struggling with feeding in top bar hives.
    It wouldn't be a top bar hive if it wasn't a struggle.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Tigard, OR
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    I've not had any problems, I've just been making hard candy that I could slip in the entrance and once it warms up I'll put sugar water in the boardman again.
    As for me, all I know is that I know nothing...
    - Socrates

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,464

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    The hinge is over engineering. There is no reason to hinge it. Just lift it to check it. Or have a flat cover and lift that to check it if you don't want the sides lifted. The hinge will not be any more convenient.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,464

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    >Of course you would want to design this so rain and wind wouldn't leak into the hive through the feeder.

    The rain is mostly an issue in the beekeeper's mind. It is much less of an issue than you can imagine... they seal things up really well and, if they have to, they handle a flow of water through the colony pretty well if they don't.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
    Posts
    318

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    We made a hive top feeder from a piece of plywood. It holds three jars and has screen between the jars and the bees so they don't fly out the holes when you remove the jars to refill. There is a picture of it on our website. The link is below.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Cookeville, TN
    Posts
    138

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >they handle a flow of water through the colony pretty well if they don't.
    One of my hives only has a piece of tin that is way too large for the hive and has a tendency to get blown off of the hive in heavy winds. Unfortunately high winds usually means rain around here and the hive has been swamped on more than one occasion. I've had to drill a hole in the bottom of the hive to drain the water. The Hive is probably my strongest hive, before I drilled the hole in the hive they built little islands on the bottom of the hives. I've been quite surprised by how much water they seem to be able to handle.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Greenwood, Indiana
    Posts
    182

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    I recently finished building five tbh, one for my son and four for me. I will be starting with two packages of bees in April.
    I bought five of the following plastic top feeders from Brushy Mountain http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com...oductinfo/423/ that I intend to jury-rig with a 2x4 frame with a cover on the outside top. To provide for the bees' entrance, there will be a separate three-inch-wide top bar w/follower board that has a half-inch wide x 10-inch ong hole in the extra 1 1/2-inch side of the follower board. Of course the bees will only use one of the two entrances on the feeder. I will be able to feed two gallons of sugar water at a time using this. I haven't checked it out yet, but I might be able to change one of the ends so that it can be used as an access for candy, fondue, or plain sugar.
    Last edited by Hoosier; 02-23-2012 at 06:18 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Greenwood, Indiana
    Posts
    182

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    UPS delivered the five top feeders about an hour ago. This is going to be MUCH easier than what I thought it would be. The measurements are almost perfect for my tbh.
    What I will consider the LENGTH is 19 3/4 inches, but of course that would be the WIDTH if it were sitting on a regular hive. That 19 3/4 inches include a 1" edge on each end. Inside those two edges is a length of 17 3/4 inches with two white, plastic covers over the "stairs" that the bees walk down to access the honey in the 14 1/8" X 17 3/4" well for sugar water. The well is 2" high.
    What I will consider the WIDTH 16 1/4" including the two 3/4" edges, but of course that would be the LENGTH on a regular hive. Inside the two 3/4" edges is the 14 1/8 width of the well. I could not have asked for a much better size for my width; it will fit my tbh almost perfectly, and I can make the frame for top with 3/4" X 3" wood to hold up the cover instead of 2" X 4" wood as I said in the post above.
    One last thing about the post above where I said, "I haven't checked it out yet, but I might be able to change one of the ends so that it can be used as an access for candy, fondue, or plain sugar"; that will be no problem whatsoever; all I'll have to do is lift off one of the white-plastic-end covers so that the bees can just walk down the steps to get to the candy, fondue, or plain sugar.
    As you've probably surmised... I'm a happy camper right now.
    BTW Those white-plastic ends are only the top and front to cover the wide tunnel that the bees come up to be able to go down the stairs to the top level of the sugar water behind and in front of the white plastic piece.

    ETA Rather than making the 3" wide follow board as described above, I'm just going to use my regular follow board(s) and a 1 1/2" top bar in which I'll cut the 1/2" X 10" hole to put under the feeder's tunnel to the sugar water/white-plastic end.
    Last edited by Hoosier; 02-23-2012 at 11:25 AM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Greenwood, Indiana
    Posts
    182

    Default Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder

    Re: Top Bar Hive Top Feeder #2
    Folks, I was made aware of a problem with this feeder by "BlueBee" on another forum. It seems that the white plastic covers on the ends cannot be removed without ruining them if you want to check for there possibly/probably being some dead bees under them. I experimented and learned that if the long, white pens are cut down with a Dremel cutting wheel to a little less than a half inch then the cover can be removed easily by running a knife blade along the back edge. I ended up having to order two sets of two for $5 + s&h to replace three that I ruined while removing them.
    So [B]IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN BUYING[/B,], don't attach the white plastic end cover when you first get them before you FIRST cut the long, white insertion pins down to a little less than half an inch long. Also, tell Brushy Mountain that THEY are not to insert the ends before when they send them.

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