how to recognise a dearth, what are some weather conditions that may bring it on?
have seen posts saying not to use entrance feedsers, why is this because i have had less issue with them than the top feeders with a ton of drowned bees
Don't know what is going on in your area but here in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia we are very, very dry and this undoubtedly is drying up nectar sources. But sources are not constantly producing during the warm season even when the weather is "normal". So can't help about what is going on where you are. But want to respond to your frustration about bees drowning in hive top feeders.
I feed from the top by two methods and it is impossible for the bees to drown in either one. One is using an inverted glass canning bottle (2 qt.) with hole punched lid. I simply turn it upside down over a hole in the inside cover and because I use a wooden piece to slide behind the lid when I remove and replace the bottle, no bees are able to get at me either.
The other method is a foam box feeder that goes directly over the bars of the top box and looks like a super from the outside of the hive. It has a plastic sleeve that keeps the bees from going into the syrup. They come down the side of the foam box and feed off the syrup that comes under the sleeve but they cannot get into the part of the feeder that holds the syrup. Feeder stays in place, and new syrup is simply poured in when the outer cover is removed. No bees, no fuss. Down side is ants. They cannot get into the hive but do find a way into the feeder to drink syrup. They are very small and are not a problem really but just kind of a yuck factor. At first I had a mold problem but when I use homemade "honey be healthy" I have no mold or other problems at all.
I tried the hive front feeder and found the bees would fly out to attack when I tried to change the bottle. I admit, that unlike some beeks, I do mind being stung. Other beeks report robbing with type of feeder. Good luck.
you can be in a dearth and a beekeeper 3-4 miles away can be having a major flow. ALL beekeeping is LOCAL.
"... I admit, that unlike some beeks, I do mind being stung..."
copy that, buddy! i dont do it for a living and i'm too old to worry about looking cool or being macho.
"...Other beeks report robbing with type of feeder..."
thats been my results. i use gallon paint cans inside.
I just set up my first hive and put a top feeder on it. I had over a hundred drowned bees the first week. I wasn't ready to give up on the feeder yet, so I cut out two pieces of window screen (the metal kind) and laid it down on top of the floats, in between the two end pieces. Worked like a charm! No drowned bees since then. The bees can suck up the syrup through the screen without risking falling in. The hardest part of the whole operation was that the screen has to be absolutely flat. Getting the curl out was a nightmare!
As for dearth....isn't that the time of year when you can go for a whole month without mowing your lawn?
Not sure what kind of top feeder you have, but if you have the styrofoam Beemax top feeder, you can purchase a 1/4 inch dowel from a hardware store and cut it to the width of your feeder, letting it float up and down the feeding trough and preventing the bees from fallling in and drowning.
I have 4 pretty healthy hives going. The whole northeast is very dry. From the beginning as a beek 8 years ago, I've used the gallon glass jar with the lid punch holes. Inverting this on top of two small pieces of wood on the edges of the lid on top of the inner cover hole works great. 5 lbs of disolved sugar in each went in 4 days.
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