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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Munster Ontario
    Posts
    192

    Default hive top feeders

    I am considering building a bunch of miller-style hive top feeders. I have never used them, so I do not know which work best. I use top entrances, not bottom.

    - Full width bee-access at the back of the feeder (one reservoir)?
    - Full-width bee-access in the middle of the feeder (two reservoirs)?
    - Central chimney bee-access NOT full-width leaving room on all 4 sides (one reservoir)?
    - Better to cover with a screen or use floaters?

    Do the bees tend to go to the food more if the access is central? At the back? Is it easier to have one reservoir over two, or is that a non-issue? Has anyone used these with upper entrances, which I could see possibly making a rear access more attractive to the bees?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Jefferson Co, TX
    Posts
    543

    Default Re: hive top feeders

    Excellent question, in the process of building several myself, just have the outside boards cut and the bottom, have not cut the center, so I can go several ways.

    So I am curious to what folks say as well.

    So two of us are looking for experienced advice.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,632

    Default Re: hive top feeders

    I built some of the Miller style top feeders from the free plans Beesource offered here:

    http://www.beesource.com/build-it-yourself/miller-type-feeder/

    I think the screen as in the plans is a much better option than floats.

    I normally use top entrances, and built one into the feeders I built. However, after watching the bee activity on the hive I was feeding, I became concerned that the easy access to the feeder was possibly allowing robbing. I stopped feeding shortly thereafter and that hive is doing well, but I plan to modify those feeders to block the top entrance. I will use a bottom entrance in the future while using a top feeder.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: hive top feeders

    A full width access in th emiddle is most flexible:
    It allows you to feed pollen or supplement on one side and syrup on the other.
    When not in use as a feeder one side can be used to put clean burr comb in and the other side can hold a document protector with a record sheet for the hive in it .

    If the opening goes cross-way (across the frames) bees can freely access it form any frame, while if it ruins lengthwise, only the bee space immediately below has direct access.

    I think those with an access in the middle are used longer (into colder weather) than those with only end access as the bees can go right up form the warmer middle.
    (I know some will say bees never take feed below fifty degrees.
    Experience has taught me that saying "never" where bees are concerned often teaches me how wrong I can be.)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    portland, dorset, UK
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: hive top feeders

    Quote Originally Posted by Grid View Post
    I am considering building a bunch of miller-style hive top feeders. I have never used them, so I do not know which work best. I use top entrances, not bottom.

    - Full width bee-access at the back of the feeder (one reservoir)?
    - Full-width bee-access in the middle of the feeder (two reservoirs)?
    - Central chimney bee-access NOT full-width leaving room on all 4 sides (one reservoir)?
    - Better to cover with a screen or use floaters?

    Do the bees tend to go to the food more if the access is central? At the back? Is it easier to have one reservoir over two, or is that a non-issue? Has anyone used these with upper entrances, which I could see possibly making a rear access more attractive to the bees?

    Thanks!
    We've got a lot of these feeders approximately half with a single reservoir; access channel running across the frames and the others are split into two reservoirs with the access channel running from front to back.

    My preference is for the single reservoir -just one 'pour' instead of two. But I don't think that it makes a lot of difference to the bees. Ours have access points which are covered with mesh -makes it much easier to top up if a second feed is called for.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morris Plains, NJ USA
    Posts
    199

    Default Re: hive top feeders

    For what it's worth I never use center access to a feeder because that would draw heat from the cluster residing directly below; consequently my feeder access is always on the ends.

    With syrup feeding I make a bee ladder out of very flexible fiberglass window screen; the screen reaches to the middle of the syrup. The top of the syrup is covered with a sheet of thin foam packing wrap material (1/8" thick) that has many slits cut into it; the ladder rests on top of this sheet material. The combination makes it impossible for drowning as the ladder will float up and down with the syrup level. I've been using this for several months with zero drownings in a tremendous traffic of hungry bees accessing the syrup.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,456

    Default Re: hive top feeders

    I have used the Kelley molded plastic feeders with great success -- two reservoirs, with a central access "chimney" and 1/8" screen over the center down to the bottom of the reservoirs. Works great, no drowning, lots of access, no bees above the feeder since the hive cover fits flush.

    Any feeder needs either a screen to prevent access to the surface other than a small space where the bees must stand on either screen or feeder wall or you will have a feeder with many, many dead bees floating in it. Floats that do not allow bees to go swimming might work, but the screen does fine ala Kelley style feeders.

    I had one hive that took nearly 9 gallons of 1:1 syrup in a week, so access is NOT a problem with these feeders. With that kind of uptake rate, I'd not worry about low temperatures interfering with feeding unless you are very late in starting.

    Peter

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