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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have about another month of dearth here in Coastal CA, longer if it never rains. It's been the worse dearth I have seen and have already lost a number of hives due to robbing. The only solution I have found to keep the bees "busy" is to put out two 5-gallon syrup feeders (the inverted bucket trick with holes drilled around the ring). This has worked really well but the two buckets still don't provide enough surface area to keep all the hives busy and away from attacking each other. I also went out of town for a week and came back to 3 robbed out hives, as I wasn't around to refill them.

As I was working in the garden I couldn't help but wonder if I could build a sort of drip feeder?

The possible setup:

  • Some old roof gutter or other "trough" around 4-6 feet long with a thin layer of cleaned gravel in the bottom.
  • Lay some garden 1/8" or 1/4" line on top with drippers every 2-3 inches
  • Connect line to 5-30g container with sugar mixture to feed drip line.

Ideally I could place the sugar container in my garage and use a small water pump (they make these for 1/4 line for aquariums) that would pump the mixture to the drippers with a controllable pressure. I could also put the pump on a smart plug to control the times it ran, assuring it doesn't run at night where the trough would just fill up and syrup more than likely go to waste.

I'm also only doing a light syrup mix, about 25% sugar. This gives them the water they need to cool the hives while providing them some energy/attractant.
And yes, I am also feeding the hives, but this doesn't seem to reduce the need to rob and they certainly aren't storing much of it.

Anyone ever heard of anything like this, or another solution?

-

I'm keeping a close eye on the Eucalyptus. As soon as that blooms (typically later October), my bee season officially starts again.
 

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Some people successfully just feed their bees old, crystallized honey (internally and safely!) - this keeps bees working in the hives as they slowly chew on old, crystallized honey.
--->Need to add water periodically<---
--->This may sound as inefficient feeding, but that is exactly the point - to keep the workforce occupied chewing on the stone<---

Pretty much you keep the bees busy at home and away from endless scouting outside the hives - maybe worth a try.

Kind of like so:

Natural material Cuisine Dish Wood Soil
 

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Santa Cruz, CA
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Some people successfully just feed their bees old, crystallized honey (internally and safely!) - this keeps bees working in the hives as they slowly chew on old, crystallized honey.
--->Need to add water periodically<---
--->This may sound as inefficient feeding, but that is exactly the point - to keep the workforce occupied chewing on the stone<---

Pretty much you keep the bees busy at home and away from endless scouting outside the hives - maybe worth a try.
That is a great idea, if I had any old crystalized honey, or certainly enough to feed all 30 remaining hives. I'll have to save any crystalized frames I see in the future for this use, perhaps on the largest hives who seem to be the main culprits.
 

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perhaps on the largest hives who seem to be the main culprits.
Perhaps.

And the moist slush of dry sugar/water mix will do the same in the absence of old honey.
Can you do that? :)
I bet you could do it tonight; simple and effective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Perhaps.

And the moist slush of dry sugar/water mix will do the same in the absence of old honey.
Can you do that? :)
I bet you could do it tonight; simple and effective.
An open feeding of a thick sugar paste, mostly dry?

I could certainly give that a try. I did notice that 1:1 syrup takes them a lot longer to empty vs anything lighter. I suppose a really thick sugar paste would likely even take longer.
 

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An open feeding of a thick sugar paste, mostly dry?
NOT open feeding.
Again - (internally and safely!)
Very thick sugar paste - will keep them busy at home, not to be flying about looking for stuff.
Need to keep it just enough moist, of course.
Good to have external water supply regardless.

PS: just to confirm - open feeding on sugar slush works too;
a guy nearby here did just that recently in mid-summer - worked great to use up old sugar left-overs; dump the sugar into a tub and add a little water; walk away.
but never know when that will develop into robbing frenzy again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'll have to let that muddle in the mind. It would take a ton of sugar and I'd either have to install shims to put them on the frames, or put them on top of the inner covers with shims/empty supers.

I like the idea though, and may just have to give it go on the largest hives to see if things calm down.

There are bees flying all over the yard, just aimlessly wandering! And heaven forbid I actually open up a hive to inspect. It's like an all you can rob buffet!
 

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And heaven forbid I actually open up a hive to inspect. It's like an all you can rob buffet!
Maybe very late. :)
All you do is add an empty super and a container with sugar.
That does not sound too complicated.

Well, that tub with sugar might just work too.
Low tech for sure. Nothing to break. Plenty of space for everyone to chew on.
 

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I would think the worst thing to do with regards to robbing is open feeding.

by far the worst.

Whenever I do open feeding it just makes the robbing problem 10X worse and they look for every little crack to rob every hive within the entire yard for weeks to come.

If there's any other beekeepers around, when you remove the open feeding they'll rob out the hives anywhere in close vicinity to the open feeders.
 

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Mtnmyke; I seem to remember "on demand " level control systems based similar to the float valve in your toilet tank or gas engine carburetors. Similar valves on steam cleaners that will hold against domestic water pressure.There are capillary action drip feeders too that cuould be contrived. Non of which really should be left unchecked for long periods.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I assure you, it's FAR worse without the open feeders. There's a reason I resorted to this. Without it it's a constant search around every hive. Only with the open feeders do the girls seem "distracted". The feeders are also about an acre from any hives.

I've only noticed massive robbing frenzies when they actual are robbing a hive. The bees seen to go everywhere in a crazy frenzy covering anything be related in the yard. Syrup doesn't seem to trigger this.

I do like the idea of distracting them inside the hives. I'll try or a few methods.

Just hoping Eucalyptus blooms soon. Last year my first blindy were Oct 27th.
 

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Has there been any rain?

Sounds like a serious issue is other beekeepers nearby - my bees rob the crap out of the backyard beekeepers who don't treat.

Very seldom, even with wide open entrances do I ever see my own bees rob one another....

Which is why I think your neighbors are the culprits ....
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I haven't seen rain since February. It's BAD here.

I doubt neighbors are the culprits. Only because when a robbing frenzy occurs my other hives go crazy with activity. Most of my hives are incredibly strong and it's easy to tell when they find something, as anyone with experience would attest.

However, I live in an area that is all bout the hippy life and nobody treats around here. I have no doubt that MY bees are robbing the neighbors, not the other way around. My mite levels shot up in the heart of the dearth, likely from mite bombs coming from other hives. OAV treatments have kept things under control.

For now, I just need to keep the girls "busy" until Eucalyptus blooms. Then everything becomes right in the world again - at least until next year.
 

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I assure you, it's FAR worse without the open feeders. There's a reason I resorted to this. Without it it's a constant search around every hive. Only with the open feeders do the girls seem "distracted". The feeders are also about an acre from any hives.

I've only noticed massive robbing frenzies when they actual are robbing a hive. The bees seen to go everywhere in a crazy frenzy covering anything be related in the yard. Syrup doesn't seem to trigger this.

I do like the idea of distracting them inside the hives. I'll try or a few methods.

Just hoping Eucalyptus blooms soon. Last year my first blindy were Oct 27th.
what about drip inside the hives, set the barrel up high, drill a hole big enough to get the hose into the feeding rim, have it go to the end 16 inches or so, last foot is the drip line stuff. At least once set up you have one place to pour the syrup.

GG
 

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I have about another month of dearth here in Coastal CA, longer if it never rains. It's been the worse dearth I have seen and have already lost a number of hives due to robbing. The only solution I have found to keep the bees "busy" is to put out two 5-gallon syrup feeders (the inverted bucket trick with holes drilled around the ring). This has worked really well but the two buckets still don't provide enough surface area to keep all the hives busy and away from attacking each other. I also went out of town for a week and came back to 3 robbed out hives, as I wasn't around to refill them.

As I was working in the garden I couldn't help but wonder if I could build a sort of drip feeder?

The possible setup:

  • Some old roof gutter or other "trough" around 4-6 feet long with a thin layer of cleaned gravel in the bottom.
  • Lay some garden 1/8" or 1/4" line on top with drippers every 2-3 inches
  • Connect line to 5-30g container with sugar mixture to feed drip line.

Ideally I could place the sugar container in my garage and use a small water pump (they make these for 1/4 line for aquariums) that would pump the mixture to the drippers with a controllable pressure. I could also put the pump on a smart plug to control the times it ran, assuring it doesn't run at night where the trough would just fill up and syrup more than likely go to waste.

I'm also only doing a light syrup mix, about 25% sugar. This gives them the water they need to cool the hives while providing them some energy/attractant.
And yes, I am also feeding the hives, but this doesn't seem to reduce the need to rob and they certainly aren't storing much of it.

Anyone ever heard of anything like this, or another solution?

-

I'm keeping a close eye on the Eucalyptus. As soon as that blooms (typically later October), my bee season officially starts again.
I'm new here but it seems a simple solution for your short term issue would be to provide an outside water source (maybe bucket with corks etc.) and feed fondant patties inside the hives - mine take a while to eat them - of course number of hives etc. might be a problem for you, and they are not inexpensive - but nor is replacing bees. Once you have Eucalyptus blooms you could remove whats left of the patties if you wished. Just a thought.
 

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what about drip inside the hives, set the barrel up high, drill a hole big enough to get the hose into the feeding rim, have it go to the end 16 inches or so, last foot is the drip line stuff. At least once set up you have one place to pour the syrup.

GG
not a bad idea, If you put a drip head in each hive and let it run at a low/intermittent rate it might work to keep your hives distracted
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Original idea what to keep things super simple, while keeping the robbers distracted. I'm not sure running a line to all my hives in all their locations and making sure they are all dripping the right amount to where I'm not wetting bees is the answer. It would be really cool, and maybe work really well with a small float inside a frame feeder, but I'm already overwhelmed thinking about it.

Temps have cooled way down so the bees aren't flying as much, and/or I did put some wetted sugar inside a few of the larger hives. They are throwing a lot of it out the entrance, so may be a waste, but are consuming anything that's damp. It appears to have mostly dried out since I put it in.

I did learn that using a VERY heavy syrup is much better than a really light syrup. It takes the bees longer to drink, transport to the hives, and likely process.

We're only a few weeks away from Eucalyptus now. They are budding like crazy, so expecting to pop any day!
 

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I have a 5-gal bucket with the plastic honey gate. This drips into, or onto any number of things. For several years I had it dripping onto a black solid plastic frame and one corner would run off into a tupperware-type container with some broken weeds or something to walk around on. I will mix 10-15 gallons (less than 1:1) fairly frequently, 5 will go in this bucket, the other will be spread out over a few other surfaces and/or placed in containers filled with straw, weeds, pine needles etc. The advantage of the honey gate is you can get the drip going just by loosening the wing nut that is made to lock it shut.

Having some dry sugar (or slightly moistened sugar) out will give them the extra step of gathering water to dissolve it in. Make sure you make them go over or around something, so they won't have line-of-sight back to any of the hives. I broke this rule recently without consequences, but it is a solid recommendation. Once a source within line-of-sight dries up, they will fly in circles until they find something that smells interesting.

I now feed in the late afternoon and gorge them. Earlier in the day they just work the dry(er) sugar, and some pollen sub. At this point we still have a small amount of nectar but almost no natural pollen. I really think if you load them up with enough, they are less likely to rob. They spend the next day(s) curing it.

I was talking with an older gentleman last night who started up 3-4 years ago and runs almost 60 hives. He told me they were taking the feed, but not really putting it up. Turns out he is feeding with quart jars and entrance feeders. Most of his boxes are 8-frame single deeps. While this is not a huge volume, it's more than you can fill with an occasional quart of feed (particularly 1:1), especially if nothing else is coming in.

I agree with many folks on here that open-feeding is less than ideal, and I have tweaked this process over time. But for my purposes, and given my isolation, it is what works for me currently. I also have some frame feeders and top feeders for specific use cases, but it's easier to rearrange frames as needed than trying to manage in-hive feeding for everything right now.

edit: After reading the full thread I see most everything is covered including some ideas I may try. Just leaving the post and the line-of-sight stuff for future reference to new beeks. I see you're an acre away, so this is not an issue.
 

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Original idea what to keep things super simple, while keeping the robbers distracted. I'm not sure running a line to all my hives in all their locations and making sure they are all dripping the right amount to where I'm not wetting bees is the answer. It would be really cool, and maybe work really well with a small float inside a frame feeder, but I'm already overwhelmed thinking about it.

Temps have cooled way down so the bees aren't flying as much, and/or I did put some wetted sugar inside a few of the larger hives. They are throwing a lot of it out the entrance, so may be a waste, but are consuming anything that's damp. It appears to have mostly dried out since I put it in.

I did learn that using a VERY heavy syrup is much better than a really light syrup. It takes the bees longer to drink, transport to the hives, and likely process.

We're only a few weeks away from Eucalyptus now. They are budding like crazy, so expecting to pop any day!
What type of Eucalyptus do you have? How long does it normally flower?
 

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The possible setup:

  • Some old roof gutter or other "trough" around 4-6 feet long with a thin layer of cleaned gravel in the bottom.
  • Lay some garden 1/8" or 1/4" line on top with drippers every 2-3 inches
  • Connect line to 5-30g container with sugar mixture to feed drip line.

Ideally I could place the sugar container in my garage and use a small water pump (they make these for 1/4 line for aquariums) that would pump the mixture to the drippers with a controllable pressure. I could also put the pump on a smart plug to control ….Anyone ever heard of anything like this, [/QUOTE]

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