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First year beekeeper here! I recently bought a 1 1/2 gallon frame feeder from mann lake. I checked on it after a week and found that not only did I drown at least a dozen bees (at least from what I could see) They were also linking legs and forming chains inside the ladder like they were trying to build comb. Is this normal? Do I just expect to lose this many bees weekly? I had a top feeder on it previously, but I was cleaning it out because i had so many dead ants and earwigs getting into it. I am also curiouse as to what kind of feeders you all use and why you think its the best, i am still trying to figure out what I like the most. Thanks for you input!
 

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I like my in frame feeders myself. I use floats...wooden sticks, styrofoam peanuts, etc...to help prevent drowning. I've also seen folks make ladders that go to the bottom, from window screen or wire, to also prevent drowning.

I've never had any even attempt to build comb in the feeders.

I like in frame feeders because I can quickly pop the top, fill it, and get a quick check on the bees at the same time without dealing with a hive top feeder that I might spill. It's easy to clean out at every visit, and my frame feeders are small enough for them to empty quickly before the syrup goes bad. The downside is it takes up space, but if I start feeling like the bees need the space, it's likely I don't really need to be feeding them.

If money were no object though, I'd have an Ultimate Hive Feeder for every hive. I have one. I really do like it. The hive must be fairly level for it to work properly, and they don't fit into nuc boxes, but the number of drowned bees is very small. Downside is it is about $22 a pop!
 

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Styrofoam sounds like a great idea! Do you put one piece in or just a bunch and let the bees sip around the edges of them? Syrup going bad never even occured to me before, how soon does this happen?!
 

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A whole bunch, so they can stand on them, the peanuts not roll around so much and let them drink. If I use a piece of wood, I cut it the same length as the feeder, so it sinks with the level of syrup.

I think speed of fermentation depends on temperature in your area, rate of intake and whether or not you add anything to change the pH. I have not had any go bad on me, but I don't make up much at once...I'm the one doing dishes here, so if I want to make a mess in the kitchen, so be it...it is MY kitchen, lol... And I add HBH or apple cider vinegar, which supposedly helps it last longer.

Some folks here think HBH is bad, but I have fed one nuc plain syrup and the other syrup with HBH, and the one with HBH is stronger, and the bees seem healthier and take more syrup than the other. I feel like it does help..I use EOs for my family and don't see any side effects.

I try to wash out my feeders by carrying some water out to the hives with me, to remove gunk before refilling.
 

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I cut up some cork pieces to put in my frame feeder. And, at some point, I opened the hive to find a nice large comb attached to the inner cover extending down into the empty feeder. It got removed.
 

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I started 12 hives from packages this year. Most did not build comb in the frame feeder. A few were determined to build it. Seems like a hive personality trait to me.
 

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If you have some of those "*******", the things you put a soda pop can or beer can into, you can cut them into pieces and they work well. Get the thinner ones, that are about 1/8" thick.
 

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I use Mann-Lake top feeders wherever the top box is medium and the in-hive where it is deep. Have had very little drowning in either but the bees do make comb underneath the top feeder. I have a friend who makes his own top feeders with a flat bottom. No problems at all there.
 

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> I am also curiouse as to what kind of feeders you all use and why you think its the best, i am still trying to figure out what I like the most.

I use this:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#BottomBoardFeeder

Mostly because it's free, not because it's the best feeder... The best way to avoid feeding problems (drowning, ants, robbing etc...) is to not feed. Certainly there is never a good reason to feed if there is nectar coming in. If you REALLY need to feed, then you need to try to mitigate those issues. Floats for drowning, ant bait (equal parts grape jelly, borax and water), reduced entrances for robbing etc.
 

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I use Mann-Lake top feeders wherever the top box is medium and the in-hive where it is deep. Have had very little drowning in either but the bees do make comb underneath the top feeder. I have a friend who makes his own top feeders with a flat bottom. No problems at all there.
I have both the Mann Lake top feeders and the frame feeders.

On the top feeders, I have started putting the cheap plastic queen excluders just below the feeder. Sometimes the queen will deposit eggs under the feeder and the excluder stops that. Then, there's no worry about taking the feeder off and scraping it out and worrying about the queen being in the feeder, too.

On the frame feeders...go ahead and get the cap and ladder option. It's a wooden top with holes and plastic cylinders that fit in the holes for the bees to crawl into to get the sugar water. Very few bee deaths using those. Be sure to use all 3 of the O rings to hold the feeder snug. If you don't, the feeder will slowly open up and warp along the top edge, the bees will get in and many will drown.
 
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