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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
New Beek here. Installed my first package on March 27. I've done 2 inspections and the bees are doing well. I'm using a polystyrene top hive feeder. Last week and again yesterday I noticed several (dozen or more) drowned bees. Today I decided to switch to jars and they seem to be doing fine.

I've heard that drowning is a problem with the top hive feeder. Is there anything I can do to help? The polystyrene top hive feeder comes with 'L' shaped piece of plastic that fits in a slot. This piece comes with a film of white plastic coating over it. Wasn't sure if that should be removed. Once it's removed the piece is actually clear plastic. Wasn't sure if this had anthing to do with the bees being able crawl in and out of the feeding chamber...? For now I'll stick with the jars until I figure out how to stop drowning my bees.

Thanks!:)
 

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Put in an inner cover to help stop the liquid from dumping on the bee's.

I have covers with a 2 inch hole in the center. I have a hole cover when I am not feeding. I use mason jars with 2 dozen small holes punched in the canning top. When they are in a feeding frenzy I have to feed every few days but, that is ok I like to feed them.

Works well for me. Only drowing problem I have is in the winter when the wind is sheeting the rain into the sides of the hive.
 

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Put in an inner cover to help stop the liquid from dumping on the bee's.

I have covers with a 2 inch hole in the center. I have a hole cover when I am not feeding. I use mason jars with 2 dozen small holes punched in the canning top. When they are in a feeding frenzy I have to feed every few days but, that is ok I like to feed them.

Works well for me. Only drowning problem I have is in the winter when the wind is sheeting the rain into the sides of the hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Put in an inner cover to help stop the liquid from dumping on the bee's.
In my situation I don't think it's a case of the liquid dumping onto the bees. It looks more like they crawl up the entrance area (front end) and then enter the area right next door that contains the syrup. Never actually seen the bees fall into the syrup but I thought maybe it was because either they loose their grip or the crowd of bees pushes them into the syrup.:s
 

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I had the same problem with my top feeder. I scuffed up the the surfaces where the bees crawl both on the styrofoam and on the inside of the clear plastic piece with a wire brush. It gives the bees something to hook onto with their feet. I haven't had any problems since.

You can remove the film off of the plastic piece. It is nice to take the top cover off and watch the bees in the feeder. It is amazing how many can fit in there.
 

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Thanks:)

Mine is made of polystyrene. I'll have to figure out how to scuff up the narrow area where they enter from the hive as well as the area leading to the syrup. Both are tight fits. What/how did you do yours? I understand there are different types of top hive feeders.

 

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Mine is polystyrene as well. It is just easier to say styrofoam. I only scuffed up the surfaces leading down to the syrup and didn't bother with the narrow passage leading up into the feeder from the hive. I don't know if they have trouble in that passage- but if they slip and fall ther is now harm done as they just end up back down in the hive.

Just remove the feeder, pull out the the plastic piece, and go to town with a ire brush on the inside surface of the clear plastic and on the vertical surface of the feeder where the bees crawl down. Just random circular strokes and it doesn't take much to create little ridges they can hook their feet into.
 

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I scuffed up the the surfaces where the bees crawl both on the styrofoam and on the inside of the clear plastic piece with a wire brush. It gives the bees something to hook onto with their feet. I haven't had any problems since.
I found this works well too. I also added a 1/4" dowel to the bottom of the syrup access that acts like a raft, and now the bees can't fall in. As an experiment, last Fall I removed the clear plastic, inserted a 1/4" plywood raft with saw kerfs in it that floated over the whole reservoir, and tipped the hive slightly to the rear. My thinking was that the warm moist brood chamber air would rise into this area and condense over the syrup, and then not drip on the bees. It worked, but I did lose some bees that apparently got caught too far from the heat. My hive survived nicely and had pretty good stores this Spring, so I'll call my fiddling a success. Good luck with your trials too. Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks to all the replies. The company where I bought the feeder also suggested the wire brush or fine sandpaper approach. My wife gave me some rubber contact paper (blue). It's the kind that has lots of holes in it. Designed to grip dishes in a cupboard. My thought is to somehow mount or stick it to the sides of the feeding area. Just not sure if it would hold up in the sryup and it it's toxic to the bees. I like the idea of a float device. Working on a couple of ideas in my mind with either wood, styrofoam or a combination. We'll get there.:)

As a side note, how do the bees end up in the syrup to begin with? Do they simply slip and fall going down or did someone push them?:s
 

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I also use this feeder. I've taken off the clear plastic covering and haven't seen any bees having difficulty climbing up and over to drink. I am a new BK, I hived 3# of bees on April 24th. Initially, I did not put the inner cover btw the frames and the feeder. There were lots of feeding going on then it slowed way down. Then I thought about "Bee space" and put the inner cover in btw, Again not many feeding. I live in MA and it's been warm, 60's to 80 (today), I thought they were getting enough food from the outside. Then it dawned on me that maybe I should take that inner cover off and let them have better access to the feeder. The L shaper plastic divider was foggy after I took the inner cover out. I wiped it off and it was foggy again, but bees were coming up, about 10 compared to 1, to drink. I thought about moisture in the hive when I saw the foggy divider. This is something I don't know if I should have done, but I placed the top feeder a little kitty corner to possibly let out some heat vs moisture. this was done only about 1.5 hrs ago. It is sunny and warm at this time. Bees are very active with 5 out of 10 frames are drawn out. Any comments are appreciated. I just want to keep my bees alive!!
 

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The plastic sheet comes off.

I take a pocket knife and run gouges in the styrofoam where they climb down, vertically, horizontally and diagonally. By the time I am done, it is a rough and ragged thing. Occasionally, some of the more challenged bees fall in and drown, but (for me) it is a small price to pay for convenience.

Need syrup? Make it up in a 5 gallon bucket.

Need to feed the bees? Take that bucket to the hive and dump it in.

I fill that thing up in the morning on my way to work (in my suit), in the pouring down rain and even in the winter (in the rare occasions that I feed in that time.) Between work and family, time is precious. This thing is well worth it to me.

That said, I have not tried most of the other feeders, so it is not a really fair comparison.
 

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Hi Jim,
First welcome to the forum.
Second, I sense a little bit of guilt in your attitude regarding your top feeder which is understandable but not deserved.
Bees will not take sugar water if they have something better. Clearly, since they're using yours, your flow must be slowing. It is here in Central Indiana too. A new hive needs food and you are providing that. Your job, as a beekeeper, is the same as that of the worker bees and that is to insure the welfare of the hive. So, good job!
At this time of year, your hive is gaining and losing probably 1000-1500 individual bees a day. Your concern is that, in a successful effort to help the hive, you have had 24 "or more" individual bees die in two weeks. Jim, frankly, you probably lose more bees then that every time you or your neighbor cuts the grass. Don't beat yourself up over a minimal loss. As a beek you need to do whatever is in the best interest of the hive, not the individual bees. The loss of 12 or so individual bees a week, while providing something that the hive sees as needed, is nothing. Each one of those individual bees would have gladly surrendered their life by stinging you in an effort to keep you from harming the hive. They likely were just as happy to surrender their life in an effort to assist you helping the hive. Don't feel guilty about their loss.
 
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