Feeding/filling multiple top feeders
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  1. #1

    Default Feeding/filling multiple top feeders

    I’m looking to expand my number of hives to 20 or so and I’m looking to see how people feed multiple hives. Now I’m just mixing the sugar and water and filling gallon milk containers. I see that becoming cumbersome and impractical. What’s a good way to mix syrup in quantity? Turkey fryer ? What’s a good delivery system ? Container and pump? Thanks

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    3,752

    Default Re: Feeding/filling multiple top feeders

    I have some large pots, 16 and 40 quarts. I mostly use the 16 qt. and mix up about three gallons at a time as it gets quite heavy. I use a large funnel to pour the syrup into heavy weight gallon jugs. Milk jugs are too flimsy. I am running 16 hives and yes, it takes some time both to mix the syrup and then to feed, but I still think this is better than trying to mix a larger quantity and then move a drum to the apiary. Maybe you should consider 5 gallon pails with a pour spout on the lid? That is my next move.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
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    1,803

    Default Re: Feeding/filling multiple top feeders

    I find the 20 something number to be large enough to show you some of the inadequacies and yet too small to apply some of the commercial applications. Are you talking 1:1, 2:1, both, something in between; how far is from the mixing area/heating source and the hives; what type of feeders , schedule and volume you plan on distributing to each hive?


    I find 1:1 mixes fine in a 5 gal bucket with a paint mixer and a drill; 5:3 or thicker requires some heat, heating and pot size being the limiting factors. If the mixing/heating area is close to the hives taking the pot is an option, if the feeders are easily portable taking the feeders to the pot is also an option. Distributing 3 gal per hive vs 1/2 gal changes how long you'll be mixing and schedule of feedings. What did you have in mind as ideal?
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Cecil County, MD
    Posts
    75

    Default Re: Feeding/filling multiple top feeders

    With 30 hives between production colonies and nucs, I find 5 gallon buckets to be the easiest for right now. I use an 18 volt Milwaukee drill with a paddle to make 2:1 syrup. I took Michael Palmer's advice and don't bother with 1:1 anymore. I find it convenient to mix with the bucket on the floor, lift it up onto the countertop, then pour off into 1 gallon paint cans over the sink. I started using one gallon cans for everything last season. I have to make more syrup at one time, but I can feed much less often this way.

    I used to think differently, but after trying it a couple of times, I find it is MUCH quicker to take the time to boil the water instead of just using very hot tap water. If I put the water on to boil first, it's ready to use by the time I fill my three buckets with sugar. When I only used very hot tap water (130 degrees) I had to let it sit for a good while to settle out the sugar that didn't go into solution. Boiling the water leaves me with zero sediment, and I can complete the task right away.

    The next step will be to run hot tap water through an on-demand heater which should be good for about a 75 degree increase. That's close enough to boiling for me. I think I'll step up to mixing in a barrel when the bees can afford to buy the on-demand heater for me.

  6. #5

    Default

    I’d probably have 10 in my yard and 10 in an outyard. I use top feeders-3 gal capacity i believe. Feeding 2-1 all the time I’d have to research for sure before committing.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
    Posts
    1,803

    Default Re: Feeding/filling multiple top feeders

    In that case I'd be using 5 gal buckets and either premixing or taking a propane burner to heat water and mix on site. Probably 2 gal per hive every other day to start and adjust from there. Hopefully you have a truck or trailer for transport because ol' Murphy rides along on every trip.

    Slightly off topic but I'm not fond of the extra work in feeding so I leave a little extra honey on the hives during harvest (late May/early June) to get them through summer dearth which for my area is more of a hand to mouth existence than a total famine. That way I'm only feeding late spring splits or a TLC hive unless it's a severe dearth. Never wanted to be a honey peddler so processing/selling a little less honey in exchange for buying/transporting less sugar and less work mixing/distributing works for me. Besides, I don't have a significant fall flow so keeping super strong populations through summer doesn't serve a good purpose; so late spring splits and reducing hive space makes more sense.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    4,122

    Default Re: Feeding/filling multiple top feeders

    Find a large SS tank. Elevate it, but not too high. Fill with hot water and sugar while pump mises it around. Fill pails from bottom valve. Rinse(or not) and repeat.

    Crazy Roland

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    sauk rapids mn benton county usa
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Feeding/filling multiple top feeders

    I cut a 18"x2' hole on the side of a plastic 55 gallon drum with he large bung on the bottom and the cut hole to the top, I dump in 300 lbs of sugar and use a pressure washer steamer to mix it, I then pump into a 300 gallon tote that is loaded on my truck and the same pump pumps it to my feeders with a gas barrel valve on the end for control.

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