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Discussion Starter #1
I just inspected my hive for the first time since installing the bees on Tues. The queen is out of her cage and milling around (i guess she is doing her job directing the hive) but I am dismayed at the amount of dead bees in the top feeder I am using. SO MANY dead bees! Did I put too much syrup in? There was about an inch or so of syrup. I threw out the dead bees and everything and then just put a LITTLE syrup back in the feeder. I also went ahead and installed a boardman feeder just because I didn't want them to starve to death. I know those encourage robbing though, but right now there is nothing to rob. What can I do about the top feeder? I want them to be healthy and strong and I know I need to feed them right now. I saw several flying in with pollen loads, so that is a good sign. There are a lot of flowers here right now--honeysuckle, privet, etc. We live out in the country so there is no shortage of bee food. Also, when will they start making comb? I didn't see any activity in that area yet.
 

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Sounds like you have a top feeder that is just an open pool of syrup once the bees get up into it. A top feeder should have a screen or shield that only allows the bees to access a small area and then the climb in and out on the screen/shield.

You can use a mason jar, or any other large jar with a lid to do top feeding. Poke a few small holes in the lid and invert over the hole in your inner cover. You can also put jar directly on top bars if you don't have an inner cover with a hole. Put an empty hive body around the jar and then your outer cover.

You don't need to worry about them starving at this time of year even without syrup. The only reason to give them the syrup is so that they can make more wax to draw comb. They may take from it at night or when they can't fly due to weather but don't be surprised if they take it very slowly while the weather is nice.
 

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Im not sure what type of feeder your using but I used a full top feeder last year that they access from inside from the bottom. I didnt have the top sealed good and they were flying out and entering in the vent on top and then drowning in the syrup. Make sure above the feeder is sealed good and if you have an inner cover sitting over it with a notch for ventilation make sure you use screen to block them. I lost a lot of bees last year this way. I now use the mason jars myself.
 

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Are you are using a polystyrene top feeder with a plastic shield that is inserted to allow the bees access to only a small portion of the feeder? If so your bees are probably falling down inthe syrup and drowning because the sides are slick and there is nothing to hook their feet into. Use a piece of sand paper or wire brush to rough up the surfaces the bees use. you won't have too many problems after that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It is one of these:

I put it on top of my top hive body, and just put the outer cover over it, no inner cover, because I think that is what someone on here told me to do.
So, am I not setting it up right, or what? I will try to scratch the sides with sandpaper, but seems to me they might still drown if it is really full.
 

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That is the type I had the trouble with. Try putting an empty hive body on top and then the cover, drill a couple holes in the hive body to ventilate your hive but make sure you screen the holes, install the top and make sure it is sealed tight. If you can get everything above it sealed tight you shouldnt have a problem.
 

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The Boardman feeder is not a good idea unless you use an entrance reducer that allows bees to enter as far as possible from the feeder to minimize robbing.

Honeysuckle is of no interest to honey bees. Privet is yucky.

The Queen does not direct the hive, as such. She reigns, but does not rule. Her pheromones give signals to the workers, but the bees direct the queen in her activities. If she is just wandering around, she may be waiting for some drawn cells to lay eggs in.

I just installed 4 new packages in a new 8-frame educational project. I used a hole saw to cut a mason-jar lid sized hole in some unused migratory tops and use inverted 1/2gallon mason jars with 1:1 with HBH and they are drawing comb like crazy, had pollen, nectar and eggs in the first week. I will add supers next week once they start drawing comb on the outside frames.
 

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I've also used that type of feeder and had the same problem. Then I built my own Miller type with hardware cloth ladders, and the bees *still* managed to get into the syrup pool. Then there were mold problems as they weren't taking all that syrup.

I'm now using an inverted half gallon-sized food grade plastic bucket that I got from our local co-op. It's clear so I can see how much is in there, but as soon as I can, I'm also going to a mason jar/top cover system. Easier to control, and I can sterilize the jars if necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
what do you think about putting clean rocks in the top feeder to give them "stepping stones" to get out on. I don't have any extra hive bodies right now to surround a large mason jar. Or, I can just go with the plastic bag idea with small slits or holes on the top.
 

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Do you at least have a medium super? A couple of pint jars should fit down inside of that. That's about all mine are taking right now since there's plenty of nectar outside. It would be a pain to keep refilling, but you can monitor how much they're using and would buy some time until you can get another deep.

Just set them on top of an inner cover (make sure the deep side is down). Pop open a couple of wooden clothespins to get the two sides. That's about the right height. Place the jars on two of the clothespin sides to raise the jars up a little so the bees can get underneath. Set the super over the inner cover, and close it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I do have one! I bought 2 extra ones for when they fill up their first 2 deep hive bodies (hope springs eternal, right?) That is what I will do--thanks!!
 

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I, too, have had bad luck with the various top feeders (I've tried three) due to problems with bees drowning. For me it's been money ill spent. I'm now back to using Mason jars with holes in the lids placed over the hole in the inner cover. For me, it's the best thing I've found as long as I'm feeding by the pint. But it's not ideal if I go above a pint because then I have to use a hive body, as opposed to a shallow super, to surround it

I wish a manufacturer would come up with a feeder that works the same way as inverted Mason jars but which holds more syrup and can still be enclosed by a shallow super. A large flat plastic container that holds a couple of quarts (at least) would do the trick. Any companies out there reading this? :)
 

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Tammy,

Those are brilliant! Simple and efficient. I've never seen them before, so I really appreciate your sharing the links. You know, I would never have bought any of those top feeders if I knew this existed. With these you can replace individual jars, the bees aren't disturbed, and they don't drown. I'm going to order one.

Thanks!
 

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I put my boardman feeders on top of the inner cover and covered it with an extra super and the cover. Seems to be working fine that way and I don't have to worry so much about ants and robbers.
 
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