Sunday, April 15, 2012

Feeding the bees

Feeding the bees has been really interesting.  

First of all, let me reiterate:  Do not feed your bees honey unless you know exactly what hive it came from and that that hive is disease [AFB] free.   

So now we're feeding sugar water in a 1:1 ratio.   It's cheap.   It's relatively easy.    Since we have two hive types, we are feeding in two locations, using jar feeders.   Jar feeders have lids with holes poked in them.   You turn them upside down and the bees will drink it.   Easy. 

This is a jar feeder in a boardman feeder setup.   The base fits under the edge of the hive, then we can put in an entrance board that restricts the rest of the opening down there to keep robbers out. 

Robbers are bees from other hives that steal from an easy target.   There are guard bees posted to keep robbers away.  

This is what it looks like when the guard bees deal with a robber.  It isn't pretty.

The bee in the middle didn't last long. 

Because robbing can be such a problem, experienced beeks recommend that whenever possible you put the feeder inside the hive. 

This is how we do it on the lang.  

We take the telescoping cover off, then set the jar upside down on the inner cover [no base needed], then set another super around it, then put the telescoping cover back on.

We put the inner cover with notch down.   The bees can get in and out without going past the feeder.

The hive looks like this with the extra super on it.   The top level is empty except for the feeder.   

This totally eliminates robbing from the feeder and helps keep it warm, too.  

Once we get smaller covers for the Tardis hive, we'll put that feeder in the top, too. 


  1. The feeding thing reminds me of something I read a couple of days ago:

    I'm really glad you didn't show a close up video of the guards attacking the robber bee.... :P

    1. Thanks for that link, Teresa! I've been reading the same sorts of things about corn syrup. The problem with sugar water is that its pH is higher - ideal for some of the most common bee pests. That's why we wanted to feed with honey. But you can only trust the honey that comes from your own AFB free hives. It's a catch-22 for new beekeepers.

  2. When I get my two packages this week I'll be using a hive top feeder on one hive and a mason jar style feeder on the other. Hopefully, this new beekeeper will come away with some experience of which works better.

    1. Hi Mark - can't wait to see those feeders on your hives. I'll be watching your blog.


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