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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    seattle, washington
    Posts
    65

    Default how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    Hello all,
    I took a peek at the hive yesterday and noticed that the bees are still alive and kicking. I thought I would give them some feed to kickstart the spring which will hopefully be here soon. I put the top feeder on, and usually the bees start feeding right away, this time they haven't started feeding on it yet. When I removed the top yesterday I noticed the bees were down low in the hive, how can I entice them up to feed? Are they still not ready to leave the ball, or is it because they aren't aware of the top feeder?
    They were out flying around in the sun yesterday even though it was only around 50*.
    I am actually a little bit surprised they made it through the winter.

    Thanks, Ron

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,654

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    It may be that the syrup is too cold. Typically the syrup needs to be at least 50 degrees, and the liquid warms up slower than the surrounding air.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    seattle, washington
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    Thanks for the quick reply. I will keep an eye on it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,823

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    If the cluster is still low in the colony and they have honey above them, they probably just aren't interested. If there is a full box of honey above them, you could pull a frame and lightly abrade the cappings with your capping scratcher and put it above them. Don't make the honey run just ooze. I would take the feeder off and give the bees who don't need the feeder less cubic inches to heat! When it warms up in the hive, they will get more active.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Skagit, WA, USA
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    I'm north of you in Skagit County. Micro climates determine everything, of course, but it is too cold for liquid(syrup) feed in our area. Nights in the thirties mean the syrup won't warm enough during the day. If you must feed, because your hive is out of stores, you should consider fondant or dry sugar methods. If they have stores, but are trying to "stimulate" them (you mentioned "jump starting" them), spring temps are a little far off, even given yesterday's mid 50's. Congratulations on getting your hive through winter. Remember, the last two years we had cool temps and rain into late June.
    I don't keep bees, I tend bees. Does this make me a beet?
    Sea level, Puget Sound, USDA 7a-7b

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    seattle, washington
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    Thanks!

    Next time it gets warm enough I will check and see on the amount they have left upstairs, if any. I don't want to get into the lower box if I don't have to. If there is nothing in the top box, I will add some type of dry feed.
    Thanks again.

  7. #7

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    Consider adding a little honey b healthy, lemon juice, or other smell that might attract them to the syrup.
    Greg Whitehead, Ten Mile, TN
    Blog - http://gregsbees.blogspot.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    DesAllemands, Lousiana
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    Sometime it takes mine a couple of days for the first feeding of the year to find the syrup. When I fill up my feeders i drip a little down into the hive from the entrance of the hive top feeder . I found this helps them find it faster.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    lafargeville ny usa
    Posts
    495

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    last fall a local comercial keeper told me to use vanila extract, the imitation generic kind. i tried this with mann lake top feeders with 2 top tanks. in side by side with 2 different flavors available and feeding temperatures on the low side, the bees took the vanilla flavor a lot faster. this was compared to cider vinegar or lemon or straight syrup. i was surprised that one hive liked the last couple of quarts of fumagillin flavor as well as the vinegar. this was all with 2:1 cane sugar syrup. i really like the mann lake top feeders. i used about i/2 to 1 tsp. per gallon of syrup of vanilla. useing more or quite a bit more of the others did not change the results. more vinegar also helped alot from weak vinegar.i had some later first year hives without any stores thanks to drought, these were canolian/russian crosses, they were shut down and would not get ready for winter. these bees had a great disposition but NO more russian crosses for me . too few winter bees,

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,819

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    My bees took a day or two to get busy on any feed at the top of the hive. They also woudl nto touch it if the weather got to cold. below 50 or so.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    seattle, washington
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    Well darn.......

    All winter I had the opening set at 3" and I had placed a small stick to reduce the entrance to about 1/2" or so. The past few days I noticed the stick in the opening had fallen out, I placed it back and the next day, it was again on the ground. I suspected a mouse or something so I took a long poker and tried to clean out the bottom of the hive, all I pulled out was about 100 dead bees that were all piled up along the inside wall of the hive. The bees were in a wet pile, some of them had a white substance on them, mold? disease?
    During this process I didn't notice any live bees. I removed the top cover and 2 maybe 3 bees flew out so I put the cover back on. If the hive is still alive, there must be only a few bees left. I am going to leave them alone until we get some nice weather and hopefully they will pull through.
    The hive consists of 2 deeps and 1 shallow. The Shallow still has plenty of honey in it.

    I have read it on here a bunch of times, the spring can be a tough time for the hives.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,335

    Default Re: how to get bees to feed in top feeder?

    Whether feeding is a good plan or not is another question, but the answer to the first question is to heat up the syrup. Pour it into a bucket or pan. Take it back to the house. Put it in a pot and heat it until you can just barely stand to put your finger in it and not get burned. Pour it back in the feeder. It will only work until the syrup gets below 50 F again...

    Sugar on the other hand they will eat at any temperature if they need it...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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