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New hive, first hive, installed early April. Was in the hive last weekend to add a second brood chamber (using mediums for everything). I had noticed previously that there was quite a bit of burr comb between the top of the frames and the bottom of the hive-top feeder (it's the kind with the formed-plastic troughs). This time I went in and had to disengage 4+ frames from the feeder because they were getting pulled out when I removed the feeder. After I pulled the feeder off and placed it aside, I cleaned up the burr comb somewhat (noticed larvae in the burr comb), added the second brood chamber and re-assembled.

Here's where it gets crazy: I noticed a lot of bees on the ground from where I placed the feeder (always a lot of bees up in there getting food). One of those bees on the ground had a BLUE SPOT! MY QUEEN! Crawling around on the ground (needless to say my son now knows his dad is capable of some choice words). Luckily I noticed her and luckily I was able to scoop her up and get her back in the hive. Had it been the end of the supplemental feeding season, I might have lost her permanently. Yikes.

I'm starting to think hive-top isn't the be-all, end-all of feeders like I've read.

My questions: How do other hive-top feeder users keep burr comb down (since bee-space is violated in those feeders. And, how do you keep the queen from getting up there to lay?
 

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I'm starting to think hive-top isn't the be-all, end-all of feeders like I've read.
My questions: How do other hive-top feeder users keep burr comb down (since bee-space is violated in those feeders. And, how do you keep the queen from getting up there to lay?
I have not met a feeder I liked yet, but seriously, they build burr comb for many reasons, part of which is that they want to make some drones. Also the burr comb acts like a ladder to help them get into the feeder. Your story about the queen is bit scary... but that is very unusual in my experience. My answer is to just get used to burr comb, mostly it is not a problem unless maybe your feeder is really warped? Or maybe they were running out of space and the queen was moving up to lay.
 

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Probably could have happened with any feeder. But, I do not care for my hive top feeders either. I have the foam ones with the nice foam cover. I use the covers but not the feeders. I just modified my inner cover to use some inverted mason jars and I like it much better. Those hive top feeders may be good in the winter to fill up and not worry about, but trying to do an inspection and balance 2 gallons of syrup does not work well for me. The syrup either ferments or I spill it trying to do an inspection. I have never spilled one of the mason jars with the holes in it!

Just my 2 cents....

Rob
 

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I agree about the hive top feeders. I have one and I only use it when I am going to feed pretty heavily and I can leave it on and manage the syrup down to almost nothing before I want to go inside.

If you had them in a single medium, the queen probably had the center frames prety well filled with brood and there was nowhere else for her to find open comb. Wht a second and third hive body on there should be more open comb available to her.
 

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I had a similar problem. Installed a five frame nuc into a deep hive body with five undrawn frames and a hive top feeder moulded with two reservoirs and a central feeding access for the bees. The frames from the nuc had a lot of capped and uncapped brood as well as a lot of honey.

After a week the bees had drawn out 2-3 of the undrawn frames so I added another deep with undrawn frames. Started feeding the second gallon of 1:1 syrup.

After the second week, checked the hive and found that the bees were building comb with brood between the slatted rack and the bottom board. Removed the comb and looked for signs of the queen. Lots of capped brood, and honey in the lower hive deep with some larva. The top deep was partially drawn and the bees were storing syrup in a lot of the drawn cells. Moved undrawn frames into the center so the bees would finish drawing them. Continued feeding the third gallon of syrup which was begun during the week.

The third gallon of syrup was finished and a fourth begun during the third week after nuc installation. At the end of the third week I inspected the hive and found the top deep was drawn and most of the cells filled with syrup. When I pulled the hive top feeder off, as atayl0r found, the feeder was attached to the top bars with comb which was ripped open and larva exposed. I dumped the rest of the syrup out of the feeder and looked underneath where I found the central feeding area full of comb and brood. At that point I decided that the bees had enough syrup and I was cutting them off so I could remove the feeder. I didn't see the queen, eggs, or uncapped brood in the feeder, however I could only see the bottom of the comb and there was a lot up in the central chamber that I could not see. After removing the feeder, I was hoping that the queen was not buried somewhere in the comb in the feeder. I looked in the two hive deeps, but did not see any uncapped larva or eggs, just some capped brood and lot of honey (on the nuc frames) and syrup.

After the fourth week I checked and found both capped and uncapped larva. The uncapped larva were at various stages of development so I knew that the queen was in the hive since the last inspection, so I felt a little better that she was probably still in the hive and OK. Still couldn't find any eggs, but there were a lot of bees on all of the frames and the lighting was not the best because the hive was in the shade.

One of the experienced beeks in my beekeeping club said that a beekeeper's first year is the easiest because their first hive does not swarm or have the typical problems that established hives have. That may be true for most new hives, however my hive has not behaved the way I've read or been told it should develop. At least it has not been a boring hobby so far!
 

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I have used the plastic top feeder also and didnt like it either for all the same reasons listed in the thread. I made these with scrap material using # 8 hardware cloth to set the jars on and I love using them. Their easy to fill, you dont need to your veil or anything to check them, when you want to go into the hive just lift the whole inner cover off, their still vented by drilling a center hole betwen the jars and covering it with screen also.

http://i774.photobucket.com/albums/yy25/twocreekfarm/Bee hive construction/IMG_2487.jpg

http://i774.photobucket.com/albums/yy25/twocreekfarm/Bee hive construction/IMG_2497.jpg

http://i774.photobucket.com/albums/yy25/twocreekfarm/Bee hive construction/IMG_2488.jpg
 

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Hello Mike! That is a pretty good idea and I might copy it. Right now I am not feeding and the girls are staying busy in spite of the lousy weather. I do essentially the same thing by placing a couple of triangular pieces along the oval hole in the inner cover and putting the jars on them. That becomes a bit of a balancing act at times and so I will work with your idea when the time comes. Thanks for sharing, take care and have fun
 

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Mike:

I think that is the best idea that I have seen for a feeder. I too think that I will copy your idea. What do you consider to be the best space between the top cover and the feeder to help eliminate comb buiding in that area?

Ken
 

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There are several hive top feeder designs. Are you using the one that has a plastic insert in a wooden frame? If so, those are awful during a nectar flow. They have way too much space on the underside where the bees will draw comb. During the off season, when there's no nectar flow, those feeders are fine.
Other designs with flat bottoms don't share that fault and work well, even during a nectar flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Are you using the one that has a plastic insert in a wooden frame?
Yes, that's the one. You can see it here: http://bit.ly/aOKrU1

There is a ton of flow these days to I expect to remove it this weekend. I'm just concerned about all the bees I'll be taking with the feeder - and possibly the queen. I'm not sure how I'm going to clear all the bees out...
 

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@Mike:

That is a great idea for a top feeder! So far I have just been placing a mason jar of syrup inverted over the hole in my inner cover. It seems to be working out allright but I have noticed the bees building up some wax right over that spot. I think I might try you design. Do you have dimensions for what you've made there?
 

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I dont really have dimensions, I just use scrap. Just keep a inner cover handy to try as you go, make big enough to get a couple jars on and also enough room for a vent hole. I use 3/4 material and make the sides about 1-1/4 high and this allows enough room for the bees under it. So far I havent had any build any comb between the feeder and inner cover, Im using them on 13 hives right now. If you have any hives a distance from your home you cant visit as often just add room for more jars, I have a couple to hold 4 jars, saves from having to fill so often. Make your holes 2-7/8" for your lids and I would make a couple of 1" holes or bigger for ventilation. Good luck and have fun.
 

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Where do you get the wire mesh(#8)?

Also, couldn't you vent by shimming up the inner cover at the corners(nickels, popcycle sticks, etc)? And by doin g this, will the bees try to glue that vent space shut?
 

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I order the hardware cloth from Ace hardware on the net, I think delivered to the door 36" x 10' is about 20.00. I prop open the outer cover wich is above the feeder, if you prop open the inner cover that the feeder rests on your opening your hive to ants, robbing etc.
 

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Where do you get the wire mesh(#8)?
ACE can get it IF you can find a store that will order it (another story) I just got a 36" X 100` roll $200.00 :( was $145.00 last year.

Look around for LOCAL hardware stores, BIG box stores dont have #8
 

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I have used the plastic top feeder also and didnt like it either for all the same reasons listed in the thread. I made these with scrap material using # 8 hardware cloth to set the jars on and I love using them. Their easy to fill, you dont need to your veil or anything to check them, when you want to go into the hive just lift the whole inner cover off, their still vented by drilling a center hole betwen the jars and covering it with screen also.

http://i774.photobucket.com/albums/yy25/twocreekfarm/Bee hive construction/IMG_2487.jpg

http://i774.photobucket.com/albums/yy25/twocreekfarm/Bee hive construction/IMG_2497.jpg

http://i774.photobucket.com/albums/yy25/twocreekfarm/Bee hive construction/IMG_2488.jpg
I make jar feeders similar to them. I have recently tried the gallon zip lock bag so I can use a honey super instead of hive body to enclose the feeders as I am running out of hive bodies. Actually I have been very impressed with the bags. No burr comb and they are flat and empty to remove. Just put another one in and put 4 slits an inch long on top and they use them well.
 
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