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Planning ahead for the Spring.. been hammering together boxes and frames, tops and inner covers, etc.
Now I am wondering about new feeders. I have used frame feeders - they work OK, and they're cheap. BUT you have to open the hive each time to fill and they don't have a very large volume capacity. If you want to use them w/o opening the hive then you have to put a spare deep on top.
Been wondering about the tray type hive-top feeders. What are the pros and cons? Where can I buy them?
 

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Hive top feeders are great for warm weather feeding as there is no disturbance to the colony.. no smoking, just pop the cover and pour in the syrup. But the bees seem hesitant to move up and feed from these in cooler weather. There are many varieties on the market and some home made versions you could work on.. do a search in the hardware section.

In colder weather I use inverted jugs or quail waterers placed right on top of the frames tops inside of an empty deep. They seem to feed better this way because they do not need to drift far from the cluster.
 

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I have tried various types of feeders they all have there pros and cons, entrance feeders are easy to use and monitor how much the bees are taking, but the bees can’t access it if the weather is cooler and it attracts hornets and ants and cause robbing form stronger hives. Top feeders can be used in cooler weather you can put two gallons or more and add syrup without disturbing the hive, but they are a pain to take off for hive manipulation when they are full and they cost a lot. Division board feeders can hold about a gallon of syrup and prevent for the most part robbing and predation form other insects, they are relatively cheap. But the downside you have to remove for most types two frames and open the hive to re-fill them.
Feeding bucket are cheap and easy to transport to the yard and you can monitor the amount of syrup that the bees are using, the down side you need to use a extra hive body to protect the hive form cold or rainy weather unless you modify the outer cover which I have done. I personally mostly use feeding buckets but I have all the different types and depending in the situation will use all of them. Try a few and see what works better for you. You can buy any type form suppliers like Mann Lake or Betterbee or Brush Mountain Bee Farm. Just to name a few.
 

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> Top feeders can be used in cooler weather

Guess I need a different strain of bee. I've never been able to coax them up unless its over 50 degrees.
 

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Hey longarm,

I've seen some weird and cool feeders since I started using the frame feeders. But I committed to those though, I have too many to not use them. Anyway not an answer really but a comment on those. I use them above an inner cover in another box like you said. And if you do that, you can put several up there at a time. I used 2 last Fall so that's 2 gallons per hive per week. That's a lot I think, and you don't want to go longer because of freshness issues.

If its too cold to use those like this early Spring, I've been thinking about spraying syrup directly into drawn comb.

I'm making equipment too, its a good time for it. I sawed up 15 westerns, 8 bbs, and 4 top covers today. Tomorrow is the assembly.
 

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Michael,
I can't see entrances in the pictures. Do you use top entrances on those hives?
Also, do those feeders ever leak onto the cluster?
 

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>I can't see entrances in the pictures. Do you use top entrances on those hives?

Yes. It's 1/4 luan with a 1/4" by 3/4" frame nailed to the bottom of it and a 2 1/2" gap in the frame to make the entrance at the front.

>Also, do those feeders ever leak onto the cluster?

Ever? Yes. All the jar feeders I've seen sometimes leak.

I can fill them without facing any bees (because the holes are screened). I can get the jar right over the cluster (because of the two holes). I can monitor the syrup without opening the hive. I can fill them after dark, since I don't have to face bees.
 

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Thanks, Michael. A few more questions though for me to make some.
What do you use for screen? Do you install the screen on the bee side or the feeder side?
What's the best way you've found to make holes in the feeder lids to let them feed while minimizing leakage?
Thanks.
 

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>What do you use for screen?

#8 hardware cloth.

>Do you install the screen on the bee side or the feeder side?

Bee side.

>What's the best way you've found to make holes in the feeder lids to let them feed while minimizing leakage?

I bought the lids with the holes in them from Brushy Mt. When I HAVE made my own holes, I've used either a very small nail or just the very tip of a very sharp ice pick. The holes should be very small.
 

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I have not had good luck with top mounted feeder jars. It may be that we have too much temperature fluctuation in my area but mine have always spewed out syrup when it warms up causing it to leak out of the hives, the sucked in air when it cools down allowing them to build up preasure again when it gets warm. I have switched to division board feeders. I put a strip of surveyor's tape under the front end of the feeder so I know exactly where it is and place the feeder as close to the brood as I can without disrupting their access to honey already stored. When it is cold I slide any supers or lids above the feeders just enough to allow me to insert the 1/2" pipe nozzel from my syrup pump, fill and seal the hive back up as quickly as possable. I only use one one gallon feeder/hive because my wintering yards can get up to 60 degrees for a couple hours a day any month of the year and I have had syrup ferment if I feed too much at one time. When that happens then I do have to open the hives to get the feeder out and empty it and those are usually the last ones I work in the yard when the temp has already started dropping. Not a good thing. In the long run this has worked best for me and I'm tried pretty much everything else that I know of, but what works for one person in one location doesn't always work for someone else in a different situation.
 

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Next year I'm going to try this.

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/BucketFloat.JPG

A bucket Float feeder, thanks Michael for the idea. I will continue to use top feeders from Mann Lake.

The Weather in Dallas , TX has had my bees on the wing, so I set out some pollen substitute last week, although my bees don't seem to like it, I'm feeding either a swarm I missed getting or someone Else's bees. So a open bucket feeder is just an experiment.

My plan is to find them, when i get time.

have a great Christmas !!
 

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I would say much depends on the size and movement of your operation. If I kept my bees in one place I would build as many of the wooden hive top feeders as I needed for the hives per the plans on Beesource.

We tried the plastic hive top feederes from Mann Lake but several of them got cracked in shipping and the bees did not use them as well as wooden hive top feeders. Wood is too much for us to move in quantity.

Gallon jars are a hassle as the bees build comp on the lids closing feed holes as inside top feeders and they often leak soaking bees and wasting feed. Glass jars of course are subject to breakage. Plastic Gallons are at least cheap and light.

We have used entrance feeders in warm weather but of course the quart quantity is labor intensive in mid and larger operations as to refilling, they leak, and encourage robbing.

Open feeding is extremely easy but keep in mind you are feeding all the bees in your area not just yours and you are more likley to spread ( receive) parasites and disease due to the close interaction (literally climbing over each other) and the potential discharge into the feed from AFB hives (yours or someone elses).

We purchased a test run of division board feeders this year. They are very convenient, available inside the hive so they don't encourage robbing and hold at least a full gallon. They do bulge when filed and take up 2 frame spaces if you run 10 frame( 1 since we run 9). When full they press into comb next to them and when empty leave too much bee space on the outside frame which would likely result in burr comb if not removed quickly after feed is depleted. Despite the rough edges for bees to walk on they still require floats or bee ladders as we noticed without them quite a few bees will still drown in the syrup.

Of course the best way to feed is by leaving your bees enough of their own stores for the winter. Difficult to do sometimes but something we have gotten much better at over the past few years.
 
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