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Went to top off the top feeder with syrup (1.5:1), saw ~30 dead bees on the inner cover. Our top feeder has two tanks and two access points. There were dead bees covering the dry bottom of the tanks (I put in 4 liters on Monday, apparently they really went through it). We had a problem previously with a few drowned bees, but thought we had resolved it with a bunch of twigs/small sticks for any bees that slip out of the feeding points. Feeding points are covered in wire mesh to allow them to crawl down to the syrup and crawl back up. But the puzzling part this time was the deep layer of bees outside of the tanks. It was probably 700-1000 dead bees (4-6 cups?) altogether. Did they crawl into the feeder space then couldn't figure out how to get back into the hive? It seemed like the bees were much more agitated flying around the hive and I did see a few bee pairs that might have been fighting in among the bees dying in the top?

Background: First year hive, ~14 frames of brood last check (2 weeks ago) the rest of the bottom 2 deeps are honey. Queen excluder and one empty super that they did not draw out. We did not take any honey this year. We have been putting syrup up top for since late August, shifted from 1:1 to 1.5:1 about a month ago. HopGuard2 treatment in September (removed 2 weeks ago).

I have no idea what I'm doing but I'm doing my best to learn!
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Hi there lilouisianagal. Couple of things we are going to need to know. First, what brand and style of feeder are you using? A picture would help. Bees can drown in a feeder and then get cleaned up and dried off by other bees once the syrup is gone. I am not sure I understand dead "bees outside of the tanks". Regarding estimating the numbers, there are about 600 bees to a cup, so 4-6 cups could be a LOT of bees. 700 to 1000 is still a lot to have drown, but not 10% of the hive. Are you running 10 frame or 8 frame equipment? Deeps or mediums? Also, the queen excluder should be removed and the bees allowed to access the super. May be too late for them to draw any of it out but give them a chance.
 

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A good answer. Just to add to that, a common trap for new players is thinking that putting some sticks in the feeder will prevent drowning. Unfortunately that is not the case, when the feeder is choc full of bees, some sticks is not enough and you get drowning.

The pic linked is how I fill my feeders, with barley straw if I can get it which is good cos it floats. But pack up your feeders like this and you won't get drowning.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi there lilouisianagal. Couple of things we are going to need to know. First, what brand and style of feeder are you using? A picture would help. Bees can drown in a feeder and then get cleaned up and dried off by other bees once the syrup is gone. I am not sure I understand dead "bees outside of the tanks". Regarding estimating the numbers, there are about 600 bees to a cup, so 4-6 cups could be a LOT of bees. 700 to 1000 is still a lot to have drown, but not 10% of the hive. Are you running 10 frame or 8 frame equipment? Deeps or mediums? Also, the queen excluder should be removed and the bees allowed to access the super. May be too late for them to draw any of it out but give them a chance.
The top feeder is one my dad made. it is the depth of a shallow super. It's his hive but its just behind our yard. i do daily weekly stuff for it, he drives the ~25 min to come do stuff once per month or so. it's a 10 frame. The pic of the hive is when we first set up so only 1 box is on, not sure if that is deep or medium IMG_0483.jpg IMG_9289.jpg
 

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Got it. You have 10 frame deep hive bodies and I now get the outside of the tanks part. Best guess is that the lid does not fit tightly on the homemade shallow box and the bees are indeed attracted to the syrup, getting in and dying, unable to get back out. Are you using an additive like Honey Bee Healthy? It is surprising that so many bees would be attempting to gain access to the syrup from outside the hive if it were plain sugar syrup. Robbing is also still a possibility and it could be that the dead bees are not from your hive, but another one close by. I would bet though that they were your bees that got trapped. See if you can find the gap that they are using to get in and seal it up. You should be OK once you do.
 

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Are you using the inner cover that is leaning against the hive on top of the feeder?
Best to use just the outer cover.Push on opposite corners to see if it rocks.That would mean a gap.You could use a piece of relectrix or a towel as a gasket.
 

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Good catch Jack. I think you nailed it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I took off the super (empty) and the top feeder and restricted the entrance. I’ll fiddle with the super and feeder box here at the house to see what’s going on and get a tighter fit. Those were some ANGRY bees (usually very docile).
 
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