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Author Topic: Converting Hive Top Feeders to Miller Style with floats  (Read 7634 times)
Carriage House Farm
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« on: March 20, 2009, 10:22:22 AM »

Last year I purchased three different types of hive top feeders.  I thought all failed except for the wooden Miller top feeders that have the wooden floats.

Other's experience may differ and this is not so much a slam on those other types of feeders just my preference for one over the others based on the amount of bee drownings, ant access, and mold build up.

Anyways, what I did this winter was rip apart the feeders and covert them to a float style.

I simply ripped 3/4" white pine into 1/8" thick strips and stapled them together (using a regular staple gun).  The float is one piece and fills the entire chamber.

Nothing fancy, but it floats and seems (IMO) to work better in keeping bees alive, lower the amount of pests (since bees have access to entire chamber and defend it), and thus, keeps out foreign organic material that increases the chance molding.

Here are some photos:





In this example I have a Beemax 10 frame styrene hive top feeder (which I do like for its insulating factor). 

I have also made them for the brown plastic Canadian hive top feeders that you need to place a shim or shallow on top of (I would suggest never buying one of these consider how prone they are to warp and the ned for yet more equipment to use them.

In the end, baggies and jars I think are the most simple routes to go.  I am making hive tops with holes cut in them to place quart jars into and then simply cap when not feeding.
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Richard Stewart
Carriage House Farm
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An Ohio Century Farm
RogerB
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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2009, 07:40:37 PM »

Richard,

Be careful of the jars.  Mine are glass with metal lids.  You need to take the lid off as soon as you remove them from the hive.  If not you'll need a torch or worse, even with Vaseline on the threads.  The plastic quart cars from Kelley don't have that problem.  I tried the Beemaster top feeders and experienced a lot of drowning also.  I was going to put one or two small dowels in the access space to see if that helps.  Let me know how your floats work out.

Roger
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Bobb
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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2009, 09:50:56 PM »

What is the down side to using quart or gallon baggies? Seems with all the problems associated with other feeders they would be a simple solution.
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"Power, especially overgrown power, whets the ambition and sets all the wits to work to enlarge it. Therefore, encroachments on peoples liberties are not generally made all at once, but so gradually as hardly to be perceived by the less watchful; and all plastered over, it may be, with such plausible pretenses, that before they are aware of the snare, they are taken and can not disentangle themselves."

Samuel Webster
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2009, 11:46:12 PM »

Richard,

Be careful of the jars.  Mine are glass with metal lids.  You need to take the lid off as soon as you remove them from the hive.  If not you'll need a torch or worse, even with Vaseline on the threads.  The plastic quart cars from Kelley don't have that problem.  I tried the Beemaster top feeders and experienced a lot of drowning also.  I was going to put one or two small dowels in the access space to see if that helps.  Let me know how your floats work out.

Roger

You'll know by the next SWOBA meeting.  The first order of packages come in next week and these are going ontop of them.   grin
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2009, 11:53:03 PM »

What is the down side to using quart or gallon baggies? Seems with all the problems associated with other feeders they would be a simple solution.

I'd say using jars is a great way to go.  I am not sold on the baggies.  I've accidentally screwed one up and ended up either half drowning my bees or caused robbing as syrup ran out the top opening.  grin

Jars are great.  I like the hive top feeders because I can throw a couple gallons in my BeeMax or Miller feeders and walk away for a week sometimes.  I've been building some nuc and 10 frame migratory tops with holes cut in them for feeder jars so I can pop them on without opening the hive.

I'm trying out a whole lot of homemade stuff this year.

Not a fan of baggies though.  Do not take that as me criticizing them.  If they work for you that is awesome.  Roll with it.
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2009, 01:19:52 AM »

What is the down side to using quart or gallon baggies? Seems with all the problems associated with other feeders they would be a simple solution.

I'd say using jars is a great way to go.  I am not sold on the baggies.  I've accidentally screwed one up and ended up either half drowning my bees or caused robbing as syrup ran out the top opening.  grin

Jars are great.  I like the hive top feeders because I can throw a couple gallons in my BeeMax or Miller feeders and walk away for a week sometimes.  I've been building some nuc and 10 frame migratory tops with holes cut in them for feeder jars so I can pop them on without opening the hive.

I'm trying out a whole lot of homemade stuff this year.

Not a fan of baggies though.  Do not take that as me criticizing them.  If they work for you that is awesome.  Roll with it.
I was asking because I'm trying to decide which way to go. I'm just getting started and trying to sort out all the different opinions. Thanks, Bobb
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"Power, especially overgrown power, whets the ambition and sets all the wits to work to enlarge it. Therefore, encroachments on peoples liberties are not generally made all at once, but so gradually as hardly to be perceived by the less watchful; and all plastered over, it may be, with such plausible pretenses, that before they are aware of the snare, they are taken and can not disentangle themselves."

Samuel Webster
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2009, 02:31:34 AM »

I don't really care for the plastic jars Kelley is offering now instead of glass. With a change of temperature or barometric pressure, you can find these flexing and pumping syrup down on the bees. I will stay with glass if I'm using it instead of a large Miller feeder type. I made a wood top board, added 4 square thicker shims and drilled four 70mm holes. Now I can set 4 half gallon jars over the top for two gallons. No robbing, drowning or other critters. If I want less jars, I just plug the empty holes with a solid cap.
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Carriage House Farm
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2009, 09:39:35 AM »

I was asking because I'm trying to decide which way to go. I'm just getting started and trying to sort out all the different opinions. Thanks, Bobb


I'd suggest trying out several things.  Right now I have about a half dozen different types of feeders.  I would stay away from those crappy brown plastic feeders for certain.

This is the one:  http://www.betterbee.com/images/plastictopfeeder.jpg

Its the worst of them I think, horrible to grip onto and move because if its full and you need to get in you will spill syrup, which this time of year may not be bad but in a dearth it'll set off robbing if you are not careful.

They are just a PITA.

The Miller type wood ones and the Beemax styrene ones are rigid and have unough sruface to grip...and have at least twice the volume.
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Richard Stewart
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An Ohio Century Farm
annette
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« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2009, 12:29:41 PM »

I have been more than happy with my Mann Lake Top Feeders after I duct tape the screens around on the bottom. No more drowned bees after that.  And I am also happy with the baggie feeders. With the baggie feeders you just have to be careful how many slits you make in them, and do not fill them to much. Maybe about 1/3 filled. 

These two methods work out good for me. I do like the idea of the floats like you are showing and I have thought about just placing floats like that into my Mann Lake Feeders and removing all the screens.
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