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I have this Brushy Mountain hive top feeder:

http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/8-Frame-Hive-Top-Feeder-w_Floats/productinfo/262/

And it is the one thing that has been kind of a pain to deal with - I'm really not sure what the best method is. When I did my first hive check after a week, I wanted to clean it out but it still had syrup in it and there were a lot of bees in between the two troughs. I wanted to bring it inside but couldn't figure out how to get the bees off without making a syrupy mess everywhere. It was a messy job that didn't go very smoothly.

Today I needed to put more syrup in and one of the feeders had quite a few dead bees in there, which surprised me. So I took off the feeder and dumped the old syrup and dead bees into a trough and hosed out the feeder. The other feeder was bone dry but there were some bees in there - as I started to fill it there were bees stuck under the floating thing and trying to help them only made it worse so I just left it. One question I have is how long can you have dead bees in the syrup without it making the bees sick? I am so paranoid about the syrup going bad! I also thought it would be so much easier to use an entrance feeder but read that it's not a good idea for a hive that's starting out.

I would really appreciate any insight anyone can give on this, particularly on how long dead bees can be in the syrup without making the bees ill, and the pros and cons of using an entrance feeder vs. hive top feeder. Also, how often should a feeder like the one I'm using be cleaned out? Is it sufficient to just hose it clean?
 

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I guess it is possible. Bees like water that has manure, decaying leaves/wood in it - a dead bee sounds a lot cleaner.

The feeders we use are made of wood and coated with epoxy to make it water tight. I tend to bleach it when I see mold growing.
 

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The best hive top feeder I have found, is the one from Mann Lake, and I still get a few dead bees in it, if the top does not fit squarely. It takes very little for a bee to get through. With this feeder, the bees come through an opening in the center, and can get to the syrup, but are limited by the screen. I don't get the dead bees there. The ones I get, manage to get under the lid and drown in the syrup.

http://www.mannlakeltd.com/ProductDetail.asp?idproduct=486&idCategory=
 

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The Mann Lake feeder is a variation of the Miller type feeder. I looked at the plans, but did not quite understand what to do with the wire. they talk about bending the wireinto a "V". The pictures shows the wire stapled across the top.
 

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The 2 center uprights form the bee passage from the bottom of the feeder via the formed slot to 3/8" of the top of the feeder. The outer 2 uprights run from the top of the feeder to close to the top of the syrup chamber on each side, so allowing syrup to flow under them to the space that the bees can get to. You cut 2 pieces of #8 mesh and fold it into a u shape that that fits between the 2 upright bars on each side and fits between the bottom of the syrup chamber and the top of the inner bar. Then you cut a strip of mesh to staple over the top of the 2 outer bars.
This all allows the bees to gain access via 3/8" space across the tops of the inner bars to the mesh lined sides of the 2 small feeding areas, and also means that the unit is basically sealed from the hive proper from the top.
 

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I guess I'm a little lost without having seen one up close...how exactly do the bees get in the center under the screen? It seems like there has to be hole in the bottom between the two blocks marked "B". Is this the case?
 

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This is one thing I don't want to take time to build. For the number of hives I have, I will just buy the feeders from Mann Lake. They had free shipping in January, so that made it sweeter.
 

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I have found using hive top feeders to generally be a pain in the rear. They are labor intensive and the bees fill the undersides with burr comb...especially the mann lake feeders. I have switched to using feeding stations for syrup made out of 5 gal buckets. This year I will try feeding stations for pollen sub. With the syrup stations, the bees seem to take more syrup than with the hive top feeders. I haven't experienced any mold problems. When the weather is warm, I usually have to fill my 5 gal. buckets every three days. Make sure you have enough feeding stations to service your hives. Too few and bees wiil get overcrowded at the stations.

The design I use the most is a 5 gal bucket with a float(you can get Homer buckets at Home Depot cheap) . Check out Michael Bush's website for a float design made out of 1/4 luann plywood. All I do is mix up 1:1 syrup, pour it in the buckets and set the float in. No need to drill holes, set lids and flip buckets. Works great, not much labor involved and the bees love it. I have also used the same principle with a 35 gal drum with a removable top and a float.
 

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It seems like there has to be hole in the bottom between the two blocks marked "B". Is this the case?

Yes. The bottom is actually 2 pieces of luan/plywood attached between the B blocks and the ends. The B B block obviously go from side to side and from the bottom to the bee space below the mesh that is attached between the A blocks.
I actually think that making the feeder the other way with the feed chambers on left and right rather than front back would make more sense as typically most hives have a slight slope to the front to stop water run back into the hive. This means that in the front back chamber design there tends to be an accumation at the front of the front chamber that the bees can't reach which attracts ants.
 

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Check out Michael Bush's website for a float design made out of 1/4 luann plywood. All I do is mix up 1:1 syrup, pour it in the buckets and set the float in. No need to drill holes, set lids and flip buckets.

I must be missing something. I understand that Michael is suggesting open buckets with a float. I also understand the design that has the bucket with holes around the top and then a sealing lid applied and the bucket flipped. I don't understand how a flipped bucket containing a float and with a lid works.

Ah, ignore my stupidity!! Reading to fast and skipped the last sentence - No need to drill holes, set lids and flip buckets.
 
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