Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

Need advice about feeders

5180 Views 25 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  James R
I'm brand new at beekeeping and could use some advice about feeders. I'm getting conflicting information. My local BK assoc. recommends bucket/pail feeders. Beekeeping for Dummies says hive-top feeders are best. My BK supply provider recommends entrance feeders. I think I'm going to try Brushy Mountain's wooden hive top feeder with floats (this product has gotten pretty good reviews on this forum.) Any help is much appreciated.
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Hive-tops are what I use; inherited from my old mentor. They are good for several reasons...
-less robbing issues
-easier to fill (pop the cover off, pour in, put the cover back on)

I get the impression they are easier to work with... less mess.
I have used every type of feeder in the past. The drawback to hivetop feeders comes when you need to remove them and there not empty. That can become a mess in a hurry. Each has it's pro's and con's. The top feeders do a good job though and because of their volume don't usually need to be filled as often.
6 of 1 and a half-dozen of another. Each one will work the way you expect & predict for your bees needs.

Mine are hive top feeders. I love them. Winter mix is dry sugar and now there is some dry pollen granules too for an early brood production.
The Brushy Mtn hive top feeder you're looking at will work fine.
By the way, just because they'll hold several gallons doesn't mean you have to fill them up. During the spring when there's a good supply of nectar available your bees may ignore sugar syrup. If you leave several gallons in the feeder it will eventually ferment with disastrous consequences. I rarely give mine much more than half to a full gallon...depending on how quickly they seem to be taking it. And I would recommend checking the feeder within a week of putting syrup in if they're not taking it you can remove it.
I like the hive top feeders as well. I use one like Milller sells. The bees are screened in. I also agree that you have to go slow when there some syrup still in the feeder I agree with beemandan, you don't have to fill them all the way up.
I've used gallon freezer bags which work well if you only have a few hives that don't need a lot of feed. I'll probably use them again this year, though next year I expect the hive numbers to increase to where a more time-efficient method of feeding (if necessary) will be in order.

Buckets are the cheapest if you have many hives. They work fine. Anything from quart and gallon paint cans (new) to 5 gallon plastic buckets can be used. Punch a few holes in the lid and you have a feeder. The bees can't drown in them or build comb in them. Hive tops are next. I don't use entrance feeders. I would rather open feed than that.
Quart Mason jars with about 10 small nail holes in the lid are another option as a top feeder. Easy to mix whatever syrup ratio you need. For instance; 2:1 = fill jar 2/3 full of sugar, top it off with water, a splash of lemon juice, warm it up in the microwave until dissolved. Put in on your inner cover hole while warm. Ideal this time of year if temperatures are cold.
Lately, I've been using Motherlode feeders with the cap and ladder system (Just odered 25 more). They don't take up alot of storage space when not in use, i can place inside close to the cluster, and I haven't had alot of problems with workers drowning with this system. True you have to open the hive to feed, but when I am feeding sugar water, it is normally warm enough that it does not affect the winter cluster. Many times, I just slide back the inner cover to expose the feeder and fill.
For a quick feeder, a gallon baggie with slits in the top works fine. You may need a 1 to 2 inch shim with the baggie.
I use the Brushy Mountain hive top feeders as well. I do screen the top of them to prevent robbing if the top cover is cracked open a bit.
Prop the front of the hive up with a one by. Pour the syrup in the entrance right at sundown so it's all gone by morning. Save your money...
I'm brand new at beekeeping
I'd have to go with your supply guy on the entrance feeders. Assuming Ohio, new, packages, only one or two, can't keep away from the new hive - we've all been there. You'll want to be an active participant in the hive and keeping tabs on the quart feeders will give you an excuse to go check the hive! :D
You'll find uses for those little feeders for decades. When feeding gets to be an unwelcome chore-get a bigger feeder.
Prop the front of the hive up with a one by. Pour the syrup in the entrance right at sundown so it's all gone by morning.
It doesn't leak out? My bottom boards frequently have small gaps where the rear and side rails meet. By morning I'd have a mess.

I would have the same problem if I poured syrup onto my solid bottom boards. Besides, I have most of my hives leaning forward to ensure that rainwater doesn't go into the hive. Since most of my hives are now on SBB, it would be pointless to try that approach.

I found that purchasing the top feeders with floats to be a Godsend.

In the fall when my bees are most numerous, I try to fill up the top feeder and I am guessing that I put 2 to 2 1/2 gallons of sugar syrup and within several days, they have taken it down. I only recall out of 40 hives where one hive wasn't able to consume the sugar syrup.

I do find that with the top feeder that when the syrup is gone that the bees are under the floats and I have to knock them out in order to refill. I would also put a Screened Inner cover on and a block of wood to hold the hive cover slightly off in order to provide some ventilation as I did experience some mold on my wooden inner covers.

With the Screened Inner cover where the outer cover is propped up, I did see bees trying to rob it, but with the Screened Inner Cover, they weren't able to and some did die as they wouldn't give up on trying to rob it from the top.
See less See more
In the fall when my bees are most numerous, I try to fill up the top feeder and I am guessing that I put 2 to 2 1/2 gallons of sugar syrup and within several days, they have taken it down. I only recall out of 40 hives where one hive wasn't able to consume the sugar syrup.
CPA, I used to do the same for hives that came up short in the fall. One year I filled some feeders and shortly after injured my back and didn't get back to those hives for several weeks. Apparently there was a nectar flow during that time and the bees ignored the syrup. By the time I got back to those hives the syrup had begun to ferment and the bees literally killed themselves trying to get it out of the hive. It was awful. I now only give them a half to a full gallon at a time and am sure to check back within a week. I also add ascorbic acid to my 1:1 syrups to slow the fermentation.
Do you screen in whole top of the feeder?
I use a miller type top feeder on my five hives that consists of a shallow super and a two reservoir plastic insert with a center screened access for the bees. You can add syrup without suiting up.

I've had them for 5 years with no problems. I like the plastic because you don't need to seal it and it won't swell and push apart. Since the insert is exposed on the bottom and plastic is hard to repair, I handle them carefully to avoid an accidental puncture, especially in the brittle cold.

Most sell them as completely assembled with the super or as insert only. They are a bit expensive.

I sealed the screen with silicone so the bees don't find a place to crawl under it.

I leave them on year round and don't use an inner cover. I like the idea of an insulating pocket of air on top of the hive in the winter and in my imagination, condensation would drop into the feeder an not on the bees.
"Type or kind" of feeder depends on time of year and why you are feeding.
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.