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Author Topic: Advice on syrup feeders  (Read 599 times)

Offline Dora

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Advice on syrup feeders
« on: January 23, 2024, 02:38:59 pm »
Beekeeping in British Columbia, when we had to feed syrup, we used glass gallon-jar feeders in a box added to the top of the hive, with a telescoping cover over it.
Now I see all sorts of options. This type of feeder, sometimes called a division-board or frame feeder, seems to be popular and similar to ones included in nucs:
https://www.mannlakeltd.com/feeding-medications/bee-feeders/6-1-4-pro-feeder-3-wide-with-cap-ladder/
Other feeders seem to be just plastic boxes placed on top of the hive under a telescoping lid. (Have my doubts about that one!) https://www.mannlakeltd.com/top-feeder-inserts/

Are there any guidelines for which type of syrup feeder to use when and under what circumstances? (I thought I already decided against entrance feeders, but then I ran into a post that suggested entrance feeders are a good gauge of activity in the hive without opening it. But on second thought, wouldn't mason jar feeders serve the same purpose?)

At the moment I'm particularly interested in giving new 3# packages a good start. I will get the packages late March, early April here in the Gillespie County, TX.

If the nights happen to get colder than usual, should I feed sugar instead?
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2024, 03:48:03 pm »
Boardman or entrance feeders are generally not recommended because they can easily induce robbing.  Personally, I like the KISS method here.  For syrup I just use quart mason jars with a line of holes punched in the lid and set on the hole in the inner cover with an extra box around the jar.  I make up a gallon or two of whatever strength syrup I need, and I just refill the jars as necessary.  If you are only feeding several hives, it's easy to just lift the cover and check if they are in need of more.  When I got my first packages we had couple days of very cold weather soon after I installed them, and on the recommendation of a member here, I warmed the jars of sugar water in the microwave before putting them on the hives because it was too cold for the bees to take syrup.   
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Offline Bill Murray

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2024, 07:43:45 pm »
If feeding Nucs or packages, or trying to get comb drawn my advice is to use jars. If trying to put weight on use frame feeders. I dont use top feeders where Im at I find them a royal pain.

Offline Dora

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2024, 09:44:39 pm »
I like the KISS method here.  For syrup I just use quart mason jars with a line of holes punched in the lid and set on the hole in the inner cover with an extra box around the jar. . .When I got my first packages we had couple days of very cold weather soon after I installed them, and on the recommendation of a member here, I warmed the jars of sugar water in the microwave before putting them on the hives because it was too cold for the bees to take syrup.   
Thanks. Jar feeders sound good to me. It's what I'm used to!

If feeding Nucs or packages, or trying to get comb drawn my advice is to use jars. If trying to put weight on use frame feeders. I dont use top feeders where Im at I find them a royal pain.
Thanks, Bill. I just don't understand what you mean by "trying to put on weight."
I assume that by "top feeders," you mean those plastic or wood boxes?
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2024, 09:53:19 pm »
If feeding Nucs or packages, or trying to get comb drawn my advice is to use jars. If trying to put weight on use frame feeders. I dont use top feeders where Im at I find them a royal pain.
Thanks, Bill. I just don't understand what you mean by "trying to put on weight."
I assume Bill is referring to feeding a colony in the fall that is low on stores, so trying to get them to store a lot of nectar quickly before it gets too cold.   
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Offline Bill Murray

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2024, 10:15:58 pm »
Thank you member, yes that was what I was referring to.

Offline cao

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2024, 02:32:43 am »
I agree that a jar on top of the hive would be the easiest method to feed your packages.  I have gotten to a point where I very rarely feed any of my hives any more. 

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2024, 08:45:27 am »
Frame feeders have the advantage of not requiring as much space to store them.  The cap and ladder type are best for a frame feeder.  Buckets have the advantage of being fairly cheap and they hold a decent amount.  The disadvantage is that if the weather shifts too much sometimes the air in side expands and they leak.  The miller feeders are nice, but in my experience they don't always last as well as the frame feeders and they are expensive.  There are the ones that look like an anglefood cake pan that work pretty well and are fairly cheap.  If you put a round hole in the inner covers that's the size of a quart jar you can do the jar feeders on top of the inner cover.  If you put #8 hardware cloth on the hole you can fill those without having to open the hive and face bees.

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Offline Dora

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2024, 05:38:18 pm »
Frame feeders have the advantage of not requiring as much space to store them.
Ah, had not thought of that! I thought maybe they would be easier to access by a new package.

I do have plenty of mason jars which no longer get filled with food every summer. So frame feeders have no advantage over mason jars there.

Quote
The cap and ladder type are best for a frame feeder.  ... If you put a round hole in the inner covers that's the size of a quart jar you can do the jar feeders on top of the inner cover.  If you put #8 hardware cloth on the hole you can fill those without having to open the hive and face bees.

Thanks for that. We used to use inner covers with that little hole in the center, then prop up jars with little pieces of wood. That would mean that bees would come through the hole to get under the feeders on the cover. The jars were turned into feeders by the process of punching a bunch of holes in the lid.

Cutting out holes for the feeders and covering them with hardware cloth sounds like a better no-fuss solution! Thank you!
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Offline Kathyp

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2024, 11:26:34 am »
I never had much luck with frame feeders.  I use the jars too and if you look around you can find large jars from things like pickles.  Those don't have to be filled as often, but they get heavy to carry!!
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2024, 06:43:44 am »
When the plastic frame feeders came out they were smooth plastic inside.  They were a disaster.  You'd end up with a feeder full of drowned bees.  Then they added these striations and they worked better but still drowned a lot of bees.  I would cut hardware cloth to fit inside and put a float in the middle.  Then they came out with the cap and ladders.  Very few drowned bees.
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Advice on syrup feeders
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2024, 07:02:13 am »
There are several ways to feed syrup to bees. Im not a fan of inside syrup feeders. For syrup feeding, jar top feeders work well.

For my location in winter months the Mountain Camp method is the clear winner and the way to go in my opinion for more than one reason..

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