Last year, I fed sugar water in Ziplock bags placed on top of the frames. Essentially, I invited yellow jackets and robbing and lost half my hives to starvation because I didn't feed enough (it's a nuisance to open each hive and feed from a baggie, and I didn't do it as often as I should, and I paid for my nonchalance about it. This year, I'll feed more responsibly).
I've increased the number of hives from last year, and now that we're nearing our dearth season, I'm considering open feeding. My bees are scattered about several suburban(ish) yards (none smaller than an acre) and some rural fields. The largest number of hives in any location is 6 and the fewest is 3. I'll be feeding a total of 18 hives.
I know I'll get neglectful if I feed from those danged messy Ziplock baggies (and most of these hives have top-entrances...I don't love the idea of placing baggies right on top of the frames near the entrance for every yellow jacket in town to find), so I think I'll try open feeding.
Problem is...I don't know how to do it. Yet.
-What sized container would serve 3-6 hives without having to refill it every day? I don't mind filling each week, but I have to travel a bit to reach some of these hives, and I'd rather not do it more than once a week.
-Should I leave the lid off? Prop it open a little bit? Keep the lid closed and cut slits around the top?
-How far from the hives should I place the feeder?
-Is this a better approach than feeding from the baggies? If not, what do you do?