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I am somewhat on the fence about open feeding. I have not had a bad experience with it -- yet. I am careful to place my feeding stations well over 100 yards from my hives. Bees seem to take it down quickly. I am familiar with the criticisms and I do not dismiss them. Spread of disease. Spread of mites. Encourage robbing. Feeds the neighborhood (inefficient). Feeds colonies unequally.

I have used 20 gallon totes with pine straw for the past three years and I have not NOTICED a problem. I cannot swear I have not HAD a problem. I have done this only on a limited basis. (Fall Feeding) I also utilize roughly 30 hive top feeders I own.

I am looking for opinions and experiences. I have some decisions to make in terms of hardware/woodenware investment, and I am just not confident on which way to go. Thanks in advance.
 

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I've done open feeding the last 2 years and it seems like the hives that I need it to benefit don't actually benefit. In hive feeding seems to be more time consuming but actually accomplishes my goal of boosting hives with low stores.
 

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I did it this year because I didn't have the items I needed to do inside feeding.
I will be better prepared this year and do gallon buckets inside an empty deep box for each hive. Less waste less messy.

But I will miss watching the Bumbles feed
 

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I really don't see the point of open feeding but that might just because of my location-we have strong flows from thaw to frost. When I do feed, in early season to get things started or to get a little more weight on near the end of the season, I use the 4-1/2 gallon Mann Lake top feeders and usually put 1 gallon (measured in a plastic milk jug) on each side of the feeder.. Since these are pretty much closed off (I did have a bumble make it through the hive and to the feeder last fall) you get an idea on how each hive is feeding with just a quick look. They are molded so as the bees drain out the last few millimeters, it's slanted towards the screen so they all the gooey goodness and there is no waste. I only put the two gallons in because if you need to get in the hive it more manageable with no syrupy tsunamis. I imagine if you were dealing with a lot of hives or had a less aggressive inspection protocol. you could fill them and no look back for quite a while. ,
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Pat, I can see no advantage to open feeding other than time spent. It does not take me long to feed my normal complement of 20 hives and a dozen or so nucs. Ok, there is the initial cost of all those feeders :unsure:
 

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Some beekeepers leave their honey supers on longer than others (sometimes all summer and sometimes until they close them up for winter either on purpose or because of circumstances beyond their control) and open feeding can result in other beekeepers having their honey contaminated with syrup. I wouldn't want to ruin someone else's honey and I wouldn't want someone else to ruin mine. That's a big reason why the only thing I will open feed is dry pollen substitute.
 

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I open feed dry pollen in February only. Bulk feeding is very efficient but best left to experienced beeks.
 

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I've found out this year that the bees will take up fondant and store it even in warm weather. With that revelation I'm not sure if I'll feed sugar syrup ever again
 

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I open fed over 200 colonies this fall to fatten them up for Winter. Some things that I really liked about it were that it was very inexpensive as far as cost of feeders. Also it was incredibly easy virtually no labour compared to many other ways of feeding. The pail upside down over a hole in the migratory cover seems to be the next most efficient and inexpensive choice. But this is not an option for me.
I watched the video on open feeding from the University of Guelph and I followed their advice.
For consistent results I think it is important to equalize your hives in each yard, So that all the colonies in a yard are of a common strength. This way the weight that the colonies put on is quite even. Some things that I didn't like about it Is that you have some dead bees in the bottom of the barrels and when looking at the bees at the entrance of the hives after the feeding is over you will notice a lot of bees that are shiny and slick because they were fighting in the barrels in pulling the hairs off each other. I suppose it's kind of a little thing but it does bother me a bit. The saving grace here is that they are the last of the summer bees that bring in the syrup and they won't be going through Winter anyway. I was doing a lot of weighing of colonies during the feeding. The weight being packed on each colony was quite consistent being about 10 pounds per gallon of 2:1 sugar syrup being fed.
 

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One possible drawback to open feeding is the weather. You really must have some decent flying weather to pull it off whereas if you are feeding directly into the colony through a pail or a top feeder or otherwise weather is much less of a concern.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you all for your responses. Good to have different perspectives and experiences.
 

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After some pondering, I would worry about 3 issues with open feeding, most important first.
1)mite transmition, having 2 hives mite out is one thing, open feeding then having 10 would be a bummer

2)I know there are other bees close by, not sure it would hurt, but then "1" comes to play and maybe he or she takes honey in the spring. I would be a little "miffed" to find out my neighbor open fed 2 weeks before I pulled honey. Especially GMO or HFCS. the HFCS would give my sister a seizure, for example. I give a lot of honey for Christmas, to family, and friends, having issues would drain the fun out of it in a hurry.

3)getting feed to the 20-30% that really need it, may be using 100 gallons to get the 12 on the 6 hives that need it

If you blanket treat and are 5 miles from any one else bees, then most of the above would not matter.

And my labels would need to be changed to "wild flowers and my neighbors open feed"

GG
 

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Would that not effect the color of your honey as well?
Oh, yes it does! But the good thing about this is that I leave colored syrup for the bees. Dying the syrup is a great way to not mix sugar honey with wild honey!
 

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Oh, yes it does! But the good thing about this is that I leave colored syrup for the bees. Dying the syrup is a great way to not mix sugar honey with wild honey!
I also dye my syrup green. It makes it really easy to find the honey in the hive, and once it is capped the bees usually do not move it around
 

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Oh, yes it does! But the good thing about this is that I leave colored syrup for the bees. Dying the syrup is a great way to not mix sugar honey with wild honey!
Exactly, thank you.

You should Not be using the sugar syrup honey for sale.
I don't sell and I know many don't care what they sell but I did it for a few reasons.
1. I want to see Where the bees are putting the honey at any given ti e of year that I may HAVE to feed... draughts, spring, winter store up.

2. If I was to sell I would Never want to sell sugar syrup and say it's Honey.

3. I'm also curious if it will change wax color, don't think so but still curious.

4. It will also keep any other keeper a bit more honest in their honey sales..... ok not really but I would love to see their face when they open a super and it's all green. Kinda like Red from the hummingbird feeders.

This is my 1st year actually having bees. I fed in Spring and had to take off a few frames late spring. I kept it for me and if I need to emergency feed the bees. It definately tastes different, very light very sugary
 

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2. If I was to sell I would Never want to sell sugar syrup and say it's Honey.

3. I'm also curious if it will change wax color, don't think so but still curious.
The color of wax will not change. It remains a bright white.
FYI, I've got a couple gallons of green honey. This particular honey is what I like most for tea or coffee. The flavor is mild. It doesn't overwhelm the flavor of the coffee or tea as some of my other honey.
 

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Do you know where the green honey came from ?
My sugar syrup honey has that taste, slight honey but makes you wonder
 
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