Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?
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  1. #1
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    Default Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    I'm wondering if all the hives war with each other at the open feeders. I put feeders in my hives, but I also had some sugar bricks left over from last winter, so I melted those in some water and put them in tubs and put them across the property for the bees. The bees swarmed at them, but then I noticed a ton of dead bees in them, and that doesn't happen with the hive feeders. (I put wadded up old sheets in the open feeding bins to give them something to stand on)

    Although, the sugar bricks I added water to had been made with apple cider vinegar. I wonder if that had anything to do with it.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    It's hard to have a bucket tub or drum full of bees and syrup and not have some/more than I'd like to see dead in the bottom by the time it's empty
    When I open feed I think about the downfalls and benefits of it like bees drowningand robbing vs the amount of time it takes to just dump 20 gallons In a drum or fill a feeder in 20 hives

    Definitely not the best way to go but I do it when I have no time
    Friend tells me take time to stop and smell the roses I say "I do then I take 10 steps quicker to make up for lost time"

  4. #3
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    Norfolk County, MA, USA
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    I do not use top feeders in the fall due to robbing. My experience using top feeders in the fall is dismal I have since gone to the MP method of paint cans, although a bit of a pain in the rear, they are the only way to go.
    Think about it....Buy American

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    Yes, that's why I don't open feed at all.

    I only use top feeders, and only feed in the fall. I watch carefully for robbing and have robbing screens already on the main entrances before I start feeding. A few colonies won't use anything except top entrances. I reduce the entrances, and if needed I will add a robbing screen over it, too. (I use Betterbee's nuc-sized robing screens over my top entrances, held tight to the stack using bungee cords so I don't have to put screw holes in the styrofoam of the feeder itself.)

    I may try some paint can feeders this year as I am short of top feeders.

    Enj.

  6. #5
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    Mogollon Rim, Arizona 85933
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    using 1 gal friction top paint cans for feeding...the method comes from G.H. Cole Jr's. 1949 book "Beekeeping for Beginners" Ch 5. They are now popularized by Mr Palmer and def the way to go. no dead bees to deal with for sure. no robbing as long as everyone gets their own can in a covered super on top.

    Friction-top-pail-with-holes-in-lid-The-full-feeder-can-is.jpg

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    If I may, I love open feeding. I use straw to allow the bees to get in and out. I see some dead bees after a few feedings,however, they seem to be the remnants of worn out field for a gers that are using the becket for an Old Folks Home. Next year I plan to use a 55 gallen barrel with 2 or 3 foot of straw. I plan to use a few sticks to keep the lid open just enough to allow bees in and out but keep the rain out. As a side note, when I use frame and top feeders I use Vick Capo r up to help confuse the scent or smell of the syrup. I hope you find a way that works for you. Best wishes, LP US ING TABLET please forgive the spelling.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    Thanks all, those were some varied responses. I'm still not sure if the dead bees at my open tubs may have been from warring factions, drowning, or the vinegar in the sugar bricks, altho I doubt that last one because they ingest it fine in brick form.

    About types of hive feeders, I have 2 hive top feeders, and use quart mason jars on the rest (esp. the nucs). I have problems with drowning with the top feeders, but the mason jars only hold 1/8 as much.

    About the gallon feeders, and you can also use inverted glass pickle jars which I think I'd like even better, but you have to have a deep super to put around them and I have only mediums, so I'd have to get new supers just for feeding. Which is a possibility, but an added expense.

    Edit: come to think of it, you could use 2 medium supers around a gallon feeder(s). I might have enough for some hives anyway. That's an idea.

  9. #8
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    Feb 2016
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    Almond, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    I use some pickle & pepper jars that are too tall for my medium supers, so I put some of the 1-1/2" or 2" tall shims I made for feeding winter sugar bricks and use them as box extenders on the mediums. They work great, without the cost of... or using... a perfectly good box that could be used instead for holding foundation & comb on the hive. I make them with mitered corners & they're fast & very low cost to make.

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    About the gallon feeders, and you can also use inverted glass pickle jars which I think I'd like even better, but you have to have a deep super to put around them and I have only mediums, so I'd have to get new supers just for feeding. Which is a possibility, but an added expense.

    Edit: come to think of it, you could use 2 medium supers around a gallon feeder(s). I might have enough for some hives anyway. That's an idea.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    Good point. Shims really come in handy.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    How many and what size holes are best in the cans' lids? I see from the picture that holes should face inwards, right?

    I've never had a single bee drown in my top feeders - I can't see how they could get in harm's way.

    I use the styrofoam ones sold by Betterbee, but alas they have been discontinued because of leaking issues, though mine have never leaked. I hope they find another source for similar ones.

    I've got a couple of cold days coming up then a four or five day stretch of fine feeding weather and I would like to get it done for the season then, so cans on all the hives w/o feeders would really help me out.

    Enj.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    The pre-punctured lids I have for the quart jar feeders all have holes inwards. That makes sense because the bees access from the outside, so they don't end up getting cut, I would presume.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    I just use flat plywood covers and back when I did feed quite a bit, I just set the paint can over the hole and didn't bother putting a super over it. set a rock on the can so it doesn't blow away once empty.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    How many and what size holes are best in the cans' lids? I see from the picture that holes should face inwards, right?


    Enj.
    I am not sure what is "proper", I tried a couple of the paint can feeders, but did not continue because of cost, about $6 each at lowes at the time, & I had plenty of 1 gallon jars already.
    For a full strength hive, or even a not so big hive, I put a lot of holes, covering the lid with about 1 inch spacing.
    The time I did this was in an out yard that I could not service regularly. I placed the can atop 3/4 inch blocks , similar to entrance reducers, on top of a "feeder board", just a scrap OSB hive cover with a jar feeder hole in it, enclosed with hive bodies & lids/covers. A cardboard box or 5 gallon bucket) would probably work as well, as long as the "outside bees" cant get in, & the wind doesn't blow it off.
    I think "standard" usage is to place the feeder bucket directly on the top of the frames with a hive body & lid, but for some reason, I did not do it that way.

    ( come to think of it, the cover bucket might act as a solar heater, to warm the syrup quicker in the mornings as the weather gets cooler. I would make sure not to use a clear bucket, as the light might confuse the bees into trying to fly out that way, & turn into a deathtrap or something.)

    Others have mentioned that one hole is enough for their feeders especially if excess leakage is a problem, which has been my "standard" ... but the syrup was not moving into the hive very quickly even in my hives that are larger than nucs, so I have added more holes to the feeder jars.
    In hives larger than weak nucs, there should be enough bees to clean up any extra leakage.

    for a time I was using a 1/16 inch drill bit & drilling the holes ( per Fat Bee Man), but lately , I use a sheetrock screw & pop it w/ a hammer to make a tiny hole, as long as I can see light through it, I think it is enough. I think the smaller holes also help reduce leakage. Oh, yeah, I poke the holes from outside to inside.

    Just some thoughts from a newbie ... Good Luck , CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    When I have enough floats in a feed tub I have few dead bees, when I make a mistake and do not put in enough pine straw I kill a lot. If you are feeding only a few colonies stay with the plastic paint buckets and tops and feed each colony what it needs. Feed above the inner cover and start early in the season, and watch the size of your entrances.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    I like to open feed in 5 gal pails. I get very few dead bees, little fighting and they suck it down pretty fast.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    Hey there, Cam!

    Can you describe how the top is set up and made? I can't see the details from the pictures and if i try to wing for sure there will five gallons of syrup on my feet before I figure it out.

    Thanks,

    Nancy

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    Open feeding spreads diseases, hives that need weight get much less syrup than the strong hives.

    Regards,
    Ernie
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    I have been using fatbeeman style feeders on nucs and have been very pleased with them. The volume you can use for them is restricted by the height of the feeder and size of the container you put in them. I have containers that are 2.4 l that can get sucked down in a couple of days. The ladders that lead to feed are packed with bees. I'm not sure if ladder width may be limiting them or the hives ability to process syrup. The added benefit of them is that the moisture from the hive goes into the feeder and condenses there, instead of in the hive. Its getting cooler here, with highs around 55 F. The feeders are mostly being used but has slowed down. There are some where, if its cool, and the cluster is deeper in the stack it can take a while for the bees to discover and utilize. But I'm discovering with the nucs that if feeders are put on early, they may surprise you with stronger brood rearing at a crucial time. My later nucs seem that I fed earlier are as strong as my earlier ones. I think next year I will have feeders for all the nucs so they can all be supported earlier. It can be a bit dearthy in August and September has not been a heavy flow.

    I have free 8 l and 16 l buckets from bakeries for the big hives. Already collecting them for next year. They seal well and are food safe. This year I put them directly on frames and they seem to get sucked down pretty well. Again it seems to depend on where the cluster is. If it is cool and they are brooding, the rate of uptake can be slow. I think next year, I will move the top boxes with feed to the bottom until the bucket is on contact with the cluster, then put the bucket there. After feeding I will then put the heaviest box back on top. I've noticed a bigger problem feeding the taller 8 frame hive, compared with a squatter 10 frame where the cluster is closer to the top. Another issue is all that moisture. The bucket shields the cluster but I'm wondering how I can enhance ventilation.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    Hey there, Cam!

    Can you describe how the top is set up and made? I can't see the details from the pictures and if i try to wing for sure there will five gallons of syrup on my feet before I figure it out.

    Thanks,

    Nancy

    Hi Nancy,

    Pictures work better than words for this. I drill 1/8" holes around the rim of the bucket, fill with syrup, put the lid on and invert. I use the flat lids not the deep ones.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Do you find that open feeders end up with a lot of dead bees?

    When you put the lid on those buckets, it goes up higher than the holes and creates a little lip, correct? Working on the same principle as most livestock waterers? Like this -

    10030672.jpg

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