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Author Topic: Yet Another Newbie Feeder Question  (Read 3375 times)
RickLR
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« on: February 26, 2011, 02:28:09 PM »

Hello, all, and thanks in advanced for the collective wisdom.  While my hives are in-hand, the bees won't arrive until the end of April -- which is probably half the problem I have since I've time to over-think everything instead of just doing something and moving on.  That said, some questions on feeders.

I've spent quite a bit of time reading through the forum on feeders, using searches for boardman feeders, top feeders, frame feeders, bag/baggie feeders, and after reading the cons on the various options it's clear that I'll be feeding the bees individually by hand with a pipette.

But, in case my chosen method presents an issue I've yet to uncover, I did have a couple of questions for plan B and C options.  Smiley

The boardman feeder -- due to price I'm sure -- is what's included in the newbie package deals and I now own a couple -- but it seems most folks think the boardman feeder a less-than-ideal choice due to robbing (among other things), and I'm starting two hives so that might be an issue.  However, during the week I'll rarely see the hives until after six pm (I'm gone before sunrise), and general wisdom seems to be to not open the hive in late evening.  I know some of the top feeders hold a lot, but I'd still want to check to see if it's leaking, if there's excessive drowning, etc.  Is taking off the telescoping cover to check a top feeder (I was thinking baggies) in the late evening an issue?

As an option besides the baggies I'm considering buying a couple of the top feeders from Mann Lake (see photo if admin adds it), which I'd get with the painted supers they offer; if so, will problems be solved and life be good?  I'd still want to check them early on.

 
I've other questions, but I have time Smiley so will save those for another thread.

Thanks,

Rick
« Last Edit: February 26, 2011, 04:35:35 PM by Robo » Logged
DCHoneybees
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2011, 03:17:12 PM »

I have purchased a whole bunch of those Mann Lake top feeders and am using them on hives that I won't be able to visit as regularly as they hold so much syrup.  For closer hives I am using a boardman feeder with the ladder insert.  I did have a bunch of bees drown last year with the boardman without the ladder system, but I am hopeful this accessory with solve that problem.

I am using the boardman locally for its relative cost to the hive top.  However beside the huge capacity of the hive top, the other benefit is that one leaves the hive generally undisturbed while inspecting the feed levels or filling.  The boardman is on the opposite end of this disturbance spectrum.

I'm not sure that one is more prone to robbing than the other, and I would control that during introduction/buildup by reducing the entrance anyway.
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garys520
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2011, 04:10:53 PM »

I have found that you can get away with using a boardman feeder if you have only one hive.  My first year I watched a quart jar get cleaned out in about 2 hours with just two hives total due to robbing.  I also used the top feeders the first year and lost about a third of my bees due to drowning.  It's important to make sure the bees can't sneak in from the outside. Also, it's a real pain in the behind to take the top feeder off to inspect the hive when it's full of syrup.  For me, one gallon glass jars inverted over the inner cover inside a empty deep works the best.  Good Luck.
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2011, 04:11:32 PM »

After a lot of experimenting, I decided the large Mann Lake design suits me well for full sized hives.  I never fill it to its capacity of 4 gallons; that would make it too difficult to work with in my opinion.  When only filled with 1 to 2 gallons, they are easy to remove from the hive for an inspection.  I don’t care for the low profile top feeder designs (on full sized hives) because they’re more difficult to remove since a little tilting on your part can result in syrup spilling.  The Mann Lake feeder rests on top of it own super or custom wooden body and hence you have a mechanically strong, leak proof, system.

The Mann Lake isn’t perfect in my opinion; it has some flaws.  The metal screen doesn’t fit perfectly on the feeder and I’ve resorted to caulking mine on to prevent bees from squeezing by and drowning.  However caulking does prevent maintenance and removal of drowned bees on the bee side of the screen.  Luckily, I have not experienced a lot of drowning and overall I’m pleased with the feeder.  There is a lot of open space under the feeder which the bees could burr up if they wanted to.  I haven’t had that problem, but I don’t leave the feeder on all summer.  Adding the Mann Lake feeder to a hive does increase the volume of the hive and that will probably decrease the hive temperature a bit, however in North Mississippi that might be a good thing at times  Smiley

There are lots of ways to successfully feed, the Mann Lake is a descent solution in my opinion.   
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T Beek
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2011, 04:18:32 PM »

Yep-keep entrances small, usually packages are too buzy to rob and if both are getting syrup, well.....less worries, I say.

I've used and like the top feeders, they hold alot of syrup (I also modified mine).  That said, baggies are cheap and re-usable too.

That's good that you don't leave the feeder on all summer, some around here would want you horsewhipped for that Wink

Many beeks vist their bees late in the day, even after dark (there's just more at home is all Smiley)

thomas
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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2011, 04:37:07 PM »

My 2 cents on feeders -> http://robo.bushkillfarms.com/beekeeping/feeder-compare/
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BlueBee
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2011, 05:12:57 PM »

Robo, with the rate of inflation, I think your 2 cents is worth a whole lot more than 2 cents now. 

Nice job on the feeder comparisons.
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iddee
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« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2011, 05:15:12 PM »

In April and May, there is no better feeder than the boardman.

In July, Aug., and Sept., there is no worse feeder than the boardman.

I use half gallon jars, rather than quart, on my boardmans.
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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2011, 05:25:03 PM »

i use jars over the inner cover.  they are convenient for me, but they have drawbacks also.  if it rains, you want to put an extra box and cover over.  fine if you have extra stuff.  bee can empty a gallon of syrup quickly, so you need to be able to service them fairly often.  if temps are still fluctuating a lot between day and night, you can have some dripping.

the +'s are that they are free, quick to change, and easy to monitor if you have not covered them.  any size jar can be used as long as the top covers the hole.

one other thing to consider in spring is open feeding.  a poultry waterer with screen over the hole and rocks in the dish will feed a lot and you don't have to bother with each hive.  DO NOT USE later in summer or you will be feeding yellowjackets.  put them away from the hives.  mine are at least 20 ft away, sometimes farther.  you can easily screen the hole with some window screen and gorilla glue.  if you don't cover it, the bees will climb insider and you'll have a jar full of dead bees.
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2011, 05:25:49 PM »

Robo; As always, thanks for your efforts to keep us informed

Iddee; Please explain your position

thomas
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iddee
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« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2011, 05:39:33 PM »

Robbing is almost unheard of in the spring, especially while any sort of flow is going on. Boardmans at that time are easy, cheap and no danger.

Robbing in summer when there is no flow at all,is just about your #1 problem. It can wipe out even a strong hive in a couple hours. Then a boardman is an invitation for disaster.
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2011, 05:46:43 PM »

true enough.  i have found that when they become accustomed to going somewhere for food, they tend to return.  that was my point about the upper entrance allowing for "open feeding".  no problem now, but a set up for a possible problem later.  noticed on our last warm day that a dead hive is being visited by others.  no frenzy as you would have later, but they have found the food and i'm sure they will eventually clean it out.

i have a few boardman feeders, but they need a bigger base.  they don't seem very balanced with a big jar on them and i am to lazy to keep changing the small jars.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2011, 06:23:40 PM »

I like inverted jars and baggie just my $0.02



    BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2011, 11:58:14 PM »

The simplest and cheapest are to build a bottom board feeder out a bottom board (cost: one scrap of wood and a bottom board you already had)
http://bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#bottom

Even cheaper is to feed dry sugar.  You don't even have to make syrup or candy...
http://bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#drysugar

http://bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm#feeding
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RickLR
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« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2011, 10:18:04 AM »

Thanks for all the great replies.  I'm starting late in the year (as mentioned, end of April) in northern MS so I think I'll miss a lot of the prime time for nectar flow.  My primary goal is to build the two colonies to be strong enough to last the winter, though I hope to get at least a bit of honey.  Starting late, I figured I'd have to feed a fair amount.

Just kind'a mulling the options over in a rambling fashion while typing here, see if any of it makes sense:

After my first pass through the forums (and elsewhere, both web and a couple of books) on feeders, I had decided the inverted jar was the best route, but then there was info of leaks drowning nearly the entire colony and on second thought decided perhaps that wasn't the best idea (there's also the burr comb issue with the empty super).  Next in line were the boardman-style entrance feeder which came with the kit, or to use a different top feeder than the inverted jar.  With the fact that robbing a major concern with the entrance feeder, I was leaning toward the top feeder, and was thinking the baggies the best bet so that I could also feed Bee-Pro or some such, with both the Bee-Pro and the baggies on the top cover.  I figured I'd build a "shim box" to raise the telescoping top up slightly for clearance.  However, the late evening or after dark bag replacement was a concern,

Baggies: After reading the responses, T-Beek indicates that late evening checks are done routinely, so that's not so much a problem.  I know me pretty well, though, and if a smoker is needed I'm unlikely to spend thirty minutes lighting a smoker every day so I can spend two minutes changing out the bags (though I'd throw on a veil).  The thought of 483 stings after changing out the bags the first time gives me pause on this one.

Top Feeder that was pictured: If I figure a reasonable way to feed the Bee-Pro other than on the inner cover, I could  go with the top feeder from Mann Lake purchased complete with the painted super.  Seems like a fairly easy option, late evening checks wouldn't uncover the bees, and is probably the top option at present.  Plus, one fill-up would last a while and after a couple of checks to see everything was going well I wouldn't be checking daily.  It would also allow me to add a second deep brood when needed (my purchased hives are each two deep supers, one medium super, screened bottom) and just move the feeder up.  Baggies, though, are the same in that respect.

Inverted jar: Lots of folks still suggest the inverted jar, so I don't know if my whole-jar-leaks scenario is valid or not.  Burr comb can be controlled with crumpled newspaper around the jar (so some info suggests), but when I need to add my second deep super if I'm still feeding I would have had to build a box to surround the jar as I only have the two deeps per hive.  No major ordeal, though; if I go this route I'll probably build the box to start with.

I think right now I'm leaning toward the Mann Lake feeders, and will figure out another way to feed the Bee Pro.

Thanks again for all the replies.

Rick
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« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2011, 11:04:06 AM »

Rick,

Check out this potion of my blog that demonstrates one way to feed that I learned from an oldtimer.  Take a little work initially but I have found the jars work well as they are easy to find, cheap, and translucent so I can see the feed level.  I then lay pollen patties immediately on the top bars of the brood nest.

http://dchoneybees.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-hive-setup-part-2-bottom-board-and.html
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RickLR
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« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2011, 03:21:18 PM »

Thanks for the link, DCHoneybees, and the information.  I think it would be a good method, but I don't think I'm ready to start modifying the top cover here on my first attempt at beekeeping (though it is a small modification). It is something I may try down the road, though, as I think you are right it would be an easy way to top feed while keeping all the rest of the hive pretty standard.

Just curious, is there some magic to the 8" setback you list on the site?

Rick
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« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2011, 06:07:46 PM »

Nope, nothing magic.  I'm a cook too and so I get lots of criticism from folks who want a recipe that I am not detailed enough, so in response I may be a little too observant of my methods with the bees.  I do then to think having the jar offset rather than right in the middle, however, limits the risk of excess moisture dripping on the meat of the broodnest below.   
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« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2011, 07:02:15 PM »

I have a couple Mann Lake top feeders also.  The work ok and do the job. 

They hold four gallons, awesome.  This is really nice when they are really sucking up the syrup and you dont want to return to refill feeders every couple days.  The level can be checked without smokers and veil, another plus.  But, if you want to do an inspection a few days after filling the feeder and they all of a sudden decided they would not take the syrup they are a major pain in the rear to take off without spilling.  Any motion gets the syrup rocking back and forth and a disaster is easy to accomplish.  Also when you deiced to take them off they are a real pain to get the syrup out of and into a container.  You will know what I mean if you ever get to that point.  That said I still like them and would use more if they were not so expensive.  Oh, to add a pollen patty when full of syrup, I just pry box up and sneak it underneath onto top bars without removing the feeder.

Honestly I think if the bees are on your home property you would be just as well to use a half gallon, two liter, or one gallon jar over inner cover hole.  You have two hives so all you need is four jars or more.  You have the two on the hives, and two full ready to go.  When you check and see a jar is getting low, you just take it off and put another one on quick.  You dont worry about the syrup left in jar cause you will just top it off and use it when the next jar is low.

If you want larger capacity then you can do what I did/do to save money.  I built special inner covers so I can invert 5 two liter or one gallon jars on each colony.  Take a piece of plywood and cut to same dimensions as an inner cover.  Then take some lath or rip a board to make a rim around edge of this cover to add bee space like a regular inner cover.  Now place your jars inverted on plywood so you can see how to position them so they all fit in a box.  Draw circle around lids with pencil.  Now you will cut a whole in plywood so bees have access to jar.  If the jar lid is five inches across cut the whole four inches.  These wholes will be covered with one piece of screen.  Next you take another piece of plywood cut same wholes for jars but the same size as the lids and fasten on the top of the plywood with smaller wholes in it.  This piece holds the screen in place and functions as a holder for jars.  The screen keeps the bees in the hive so when you replace jars they cant get to you or into the top box.  It works awesome, it holds lots of syrup, no bees drown, it easy to change feed, and easy to remove without spilling syrup.  If you want to do an inspection, you just take of you telescope, set box in telescope, put jars in box, put the regular inner cover on top, cover inner covers hole with something, and now you do you inspection.  No spills, and jars are protected while inspecting to prevent robbing.  I should have taken pics last fall, it really works well. You can use whatever size jars you have, quart, half gallon, or whatever, it does not matter.  Some jars are too tall for a box and you need to make a shim.  I plan on making my new jar feeder covers with a one inch shim on top to solve the problem for future jars to tall.

Oh, if you have two medium boxes for each hive you can use these to cover inverted jar/jars till you are dont with spring feeding.  You can build a box later our of scrap wood.  It does not have to be anything specilal, it just has to work.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2011, 02:13:13 PM »

If I were going to use a top feeder, I would opt for the floating raft type of feeder that is offered by Bushy Mountain, but then I'd build my own, being a cheapskate (retired and cost conscience).  With it the bees come up through a slot in the center, them board a raft made of slats spaced 1/4-1/2 inch apart.  They access the syrup by climbing down between the slats.  Thin slats allow the bees access without having to climb down between them. 

The nice thing about these type of feeders is that the floats can be taken out, removing the bees, when refilling.

If I were making some, I'd build the floats on #8 hardware cloth to insure that even the bees didn't fall in the syrup.  The weight of the hardware cloth would also cause the float to ride a little lower in the syrup making access easier.
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