There isn't a single best feeder. It all depends on your management style, weather, hive strength, etc. Some will drown to many bees and others rain down on the bees when the temps fluctuate up and down to much. Some you need to open the hive to fill and some you need to pull the cover off of to fill and that sucks when they are cold. Some don't hold enough syrup so you have frequent trips to fill and others need to much syrup(for the time of year) in them to create a vaccuum to hold the syrup in.
All that said I prefer in-hive feeders that take the place of a frame or 2(mother lode w/ caps and ladders) for full sized colonies going back and forth to CA. Pails( 1 or 2 gal) and 5 lbs jars that go in/over a hole in the migratory lid for increase nucs and singles.
The zip lock bag method is a cheap and easy method to feed. Biggest problem I've had with it is you spill a lot when removing a bag to inspect the hive...
Regarding the hive top feeders, Miller style, I've been told by commercial beeks that the style with the entrance to the feeder in the middle is much more effective than the style with the entrance at one end. Reason being is in colder weather, bees can come straight up from the cluster to feed, instead of having to go to an end. And since heat rises, the bees who leave cluster to gain feed might not chill as they go straight up, as opposed to moving to an end to get to feed.
This year I have ten of those newer style plastic, Miller type feeders. The entrance runs down the middle, lengthwise. There is a nice piece of wire that fits into grooves in the plastic so bees cannot get out into the feed tray. the wire screws down to hold it in place. I'll know by season's end what I think of them.
Do a search for hive top feeders, there is another thread here that had a good discussion on them.
I've tried ziplok bag, frame feeders, entrance feeders, bucket feeders and hivetop feeders and I like the hivetop feeders the best. I ust lift the top and pour in the mixture. No bees flying around when I open the top. I bought some plastic feeders from one of the big Bee supliers and put it on a shallow super. I know guys who make them too and they Dry feed on one side and liquid on the other. Really anyway I used worked. Just liking the the top feeder best!!!
I think this is the best as it's practically free...
The issues are many. Can you fill it without opening the hive? Can you store it when you're not using it? Can the bees get to it when it's chilly at night? How often do you have to fill it? Some of the issues will matter more or less depending on your climate.
I've tried modifying a Brushy Bee Mtn. hive top feeder (full super length) with some luck. I'll remove the plastic screen restrictions on both ends and cut out a 1/2" thick course fiberglass furnace filter to fit the tray. The filter looks much like a ridge vent and/or Brillo scrubbing pad in texture. Cut it about the same size as the bottom of the feeder so it'll settle correctly when empty. Almost no casualties with this method, incoming or outgoing.
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