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Author Topic: Hive Top Feeders: Who likes them ???  (Read 8713 times)
BeeHopper
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« on: May 07, 2006, 11:45:57 AM »

I have the styrofoam types, easy to use and I thought the world of them......until the inspections started. Wow, what a pain getting the girls off the bottom side so that I can set the feeder on the ground ( looks like a 2 beek job, one to hold the feeder and the other to brush them off). Smoking them does not work because they spread out and crushing them becomes a concern.Well, it looks like I will explore the other options in feeders. I have no experience with the other types. Anyone else experiencing similar situations ??
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randydrivesabus
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2006, 12:23:45 PM »

i've been using inverted jars...they hold 2 qts a piece and i drilled 1/16th holes in the lids (5 or 6 holes). so i use one per hive set over the hole in the inner cover. when i remove them i ask the bees to please fly off of the jars while i tap the jars on the ground. so far they have listened well.

i'm not completely sure of what you are using but maybe theres a way to suspend it between a couple of pieces of wood while you inspect?
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2006, 01:27:13 PM »

Who likes them? - The dealers that get $50 a pop for them.

I'm with Randy.  In my opinion the best feeder is the inverted glass jar.  The price is right and they come in many sizes wink They work better in colder weather because the bees can cluster right up to the jar.  To inspect, I just turn the jar right side up and set it on the top of the hive next to it.

I guess the bee equipment dealers wouldn't make too much profit off of selling jars,  so they needed to invent something that would make people think they need a "real" bee feeder.

Ditch the hive top feeder and head to your local deli and get the gallon glass jars.  The only regret you'll have is dropping $50 for the "real" bee feeder, when you could have had the "best" bee feeder for FREE cheesy

Just put an empty medium super around the quarts, or a deep around the gallons.





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BeeHopper
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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2006, 02:24:51 PM »

LOL, the dealers like them alright. Another downside to the hive top that I failed to mention was the uninvited guests that show up ( ants ) to help themselves to a free meal, very accessable to them also. I have the feed cans that came with the packages, they have a removable plastic feed plug installed, maybe I'll use them. There's nothing wrong with experimenting with new gagets if you have the greenbacks, the old standbys are the best and proven methods such as the inverted jar.
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2006, 02:44:14 PM »

Well this topic saved me from purchasing some hive top feeders from Dadant. The Beekeeping for Dummies book really pushes them.

On average, how often do you have to replenish a gallon glass jar? Once or twice a week?

Since I do not have any delis near by (one of the things I truly miss when we moved from New Jersey, another were bagels) I will just have my wife purchase some large pickle jars.

Does anyone know what beekeepers who have large aparies typically use for their feeding needs?
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2006, 02:56:45 PM »

I use homemade top feeders of a pretty standard design.  When I break into the hive, I place the outer cover on the ground upside down.  That gives me several thin rails to set the top feeder on crosswise.

-- Kris
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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2006, 03:51:11 PM »

Quote from: bcarpenter
Well this topic saved me from purchasing some hive top feeders from Dadant. The Beekeeping for Dummies book really pushes them.

On average, how often do you have to replenish a gallon glass jar? Once or twice a week?

Since I do not have any delis near by (one of the things I truly miss when we moved from New Jersey, another were bagels) I will just have my wife purchase some large pickle jars.

Does anyone know what beekeepers who have large aparies typically use for their feeding needs?


The hive top may work well with more experienced Beeks, it holds a lot of more feed, plus it feeds more bees but I find it too ackward for my use. Every piece of equipment has its advantages and disadvantages. Honeybees don't give a darn what feeder we use as long as they get some juice. cheesy
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randydrivesabus
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2006, 03:51:42 PM »

i've been filling my 1/2 gallon jars every 3 days or so. i think the warmer the weather the more they consume. my wife has been buying sugar in 25lb bags at wallysworld for about $11.
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« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2006, 03:54:56 PM »

Quote from: Kris^
I use homemade top feeders of a pretty standard design.  When I break into the hive, I place the outer cover on the ground upside down.  That gives me several thin rails to set the top feeder on crosswise.

-- Kris


I am doing the same thing with my O.C., but I am still crushing a few. Sad
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« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2006, 04:11:32 PM »

All hail the mason jar! I use 1 qt jars with holes poked in the top, inverted on the inner cover. I can fit 2 jars over the oval hole, and each qt lasts 2 days. I have no problem changing them without smoking the bees. I use the mason jars for everything. Make sure to bring one with ice water for yourself for those hot days in the bee yard.
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« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2006, 04:35:36 PM »

OK.  I like my hive top feeder.  I like to be able to fill it with 10 lbs of sugar syrup and walk away, and not come back for a few weeks.   It allows me to let them bee.  

When I take it off and there are bees in it,  I place it down on the inverted outer cover - many survivors.

From Mann lake....




the rule with beekeepers .. Is whatever works for you.
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2006, 04:58:44 PM »

I got mine from the local high school consession stand.  I asked them to save them for me and I wound up with 30 in about 3 months.  You might try the little leage park consession stand this time of year.

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thomashton
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« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2006, 05:21:20 PM »

I use this http://www.betterbee.com/products.asp?dept=1709 hive top feeder from BetterBee and they cost $11.95 apiece, not $50.

Don't know where you would pay $50 for one, or why.

They hold 2 gallons, keep bees completely separate from the reservoir and you have no drownings. I have no ant problems either.

Granted, it's not free, but with 2 gallon capacity, you can leave the girls be for a long time.
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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2006, 06:32:13 PM »

Quote from: thomashton
I use this http://www.betterbee.com/products.asp?dept=1709 hive top feeder from BetterBee and they cost $11.95 apiece, not $50.

Don't know where you would pay $50 for one, or why.

They hold 2 gallons, keep bees completely separate from the reservoir and you have no drownings. I have no ant problems either.

Granted, it's not free, but with 2 gallon capacity, you can leave the girls be for a long time.


I bought my hive top feeders from Betterbee also, they are the Beemax polystyrene ones for $19.95. They are of quality and properly maintained, they will last a long time. I will hang on to them for now, but I cannot justify the cost if I decide to increase the number of hives next year. I don't know where the $50. price came from either.
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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2006, 10:20:02 PM »

The only problem I had with my hive top feeder is when they stopped taking syrup and i had to remove a very full and very heavy feeder. There was nowhere to grab and i sloshed it around a bit.

A commercial beek near me cut holes in his top covers and feed directly through that with quart bottles (no inner covers). That way when he adds syrup, he never has to open the cover. He feeds all winter cause it rairly gets cold enought to freeze here.
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« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2006, 10:26:16 PM »

who likes hive top feeders? I do. They don't cost me anything out of pocket as I make them from scrap pieces of wood glued together with epoxy resin.

Getting the bees off the bottom? I set the telescoping cover on the ground upside down first and place the feeder across that. Only a few bees generally end up on the cover and those can easily be removed by rapping the cover against the hive entrance or brushed out with a bee brush.
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Finsky
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« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2006, 12:09:31 AM »

The upper feeder needs extra 4 mm board where you have a couple finger size holes.

But what are you feeding now? I use them only when I give winter food or I feed swarm.

This time of year (willow is blooming) I pour sugar syrup streight into combs.

Jar feeders I used last 40 years ago.
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« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2006, 01:37:17 AM »

I've used the styrene top feeder from Betterbee (I think most companies have them now) and have not had a problem.  Now, I used it on my first hive last year and it came with my starter kit.  This year I don't have the ant problems I had last year, but I spread a film of FGMO around the base and the ants stayed out.  This year I used the large front feeders also from Betterbee (not the boardman) due to finances.  The Russians were great with it as were the ferals.  I guess I was lucky.  I am going to get more of the styrene and will also try the top jars this fall if stores are low.  I usualy only put in two gallons in the top feeder which lasts a couple days late last year and earlier this spring.  I'll probably use the top feeder when I remove a small hive from inside a carport later this morning.  Hope this helped and sorry for rambling.

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« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2006, 02:51:05 AM »

Quote from: Robo
Who likes them? - The dealers that get $50 a pop for them.

I'm with Randy.  In my opinion the best feeder is the inverted glass jar.  The price is right and they come in many sizes wink They work better in colder weather because the bees can cluster right up to the jar.  To inspect, I just turn the jar right side up and set it on the top of the hive next to it. ]


In autumn big topfeeder is good because you can feed a hive during one week. Feedind starts brood raising and it is not good for hive which prepare itself for winter. Feeding little by little erodes wintering bees.

I do not understand 50 $?  Price of topfeeder is here about 15$
http://www.hunajayhtyma.fi/tuotetieto/syottolaatikot.htm

Another thing what I do not understand is that you are feeding hives all the time? Are they petties?

I feed hives  during two week in September and nothing more.  One box hive takes two 16 litre syrup and 2 box hive 24 litre. Then they manager with that food 9 month, from September to May.

In spring I even food between hives because some have too much capped winter sugar. I take all honey away from hives in autumn.


System of bees is that they store food for unfavorable season and it is not wise to feed them during winter. Feedings just disturb they wintering..
........It is nice but not wise. Tongue

It is not wise either to leave feeding box for weeks on. Hive is too cool if box is on.

.
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randydrivesabus
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« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2006, 05:30:36 AM »

i think this is for people that are feeding package bees recently installed.
at least thats why i'm feeding.
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« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2006, 05:56:15 AM »

I like my hive top feeders, mine I make myself, my is the miller type  feeders.
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« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2006, 07:48:58 AM »

Quote from: thomashton
Don't know where you would pay $50 for one, or why.


Ok,  I confess.  I have not been following the price or versions of hive top feeders over the past few years.  But when these first came out,  they were close to $50.  Now they have dropped to $35, I assume becuase of the competition.
Feeder

I built a a few miller feeders way back when and found them to be a pain in the butt, so I haven't been to interested in all the incarnations of hive top feeders available.  I can put 2 - one gallon jars on a hive at I time if I need to, so capacity isn't an advantage to me.  Cleaning jar is a heck of a lot easier too. I can also run the jars thru the dishwasher, which has it's advantages, especially if you get mold.
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« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2006, 10:28:30 AM »

Quote from: Robo
Now they have dropped to $35, I assume becuase of the competition.


Yes it is. Here we have 20 litre upper feeder  about 25 $ and
5 gallon  about 15 $. They are styrofoam boxes.

Many use as topfeeder  a bucket + cover. Price is about 2-3 $.

Drill small holes to cover. Put syrup and cover on and then turn upside down.  Syrup stays in bucket because it does not gets  air. Hole in inner cover and bees suck from tiny holes.  It nees a deep around the system and extra inner cover.
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« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2006, 10:39:52 AM »

I assume most everyone here discussing feeding is talking about a newly-hived package. That is the case with me.

I am in Northern Utah on the Idaho boarder in a small mountain valley. We are still only looking at 60 degree weather today and not much has bloomed yet. Still, my girls are finding nectar somewhere. I inspected yesterday, the hive top feeder isn't being touched much at all anymore and I can see capped honey, so it is pretty much time to pull it, even in this climate.
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« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2006, 11:39:05 AM »

Quote from: thomashton
yesterday, the hive top feeder isn't being touched much at all anymore and I can see capped honey, so it is pretty much time to pull it, even in this climate.


If you have capped honey , it is better to stop feeding. It  takes room from hives brood area.
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« Reply #25 on: May 09, 2006, 02:52:50 PM »

Good call Finsky. I was planning on doing it yesterday, but it was getting late and the wind was starting up, so I just put it all back together. Am planning on pulling them today.
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« Reply #26 on: May 09, 2006, 03:09:37 PM »

Quote from: Finsky

Drill small holes to cover. Put syrup and cover on and then turn upside down.  Syrup stays in bucket because it does not gets  air. Hole in inner cover and bees suck from tiny holes.  It nees a deep around the system and extra inner cover.


Just be careful using plastic when there are large temperature swings from day to night.  The expansion/contraction causes plastic buckets to drip and if the bees don't consume it,  it becomes an issue.
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« Reply #27 on: May 09, 2006, 03:50:01 PM »

Newbe here!
 
  How well does the inner covers you get from lets say Dadant hold up a 1 gal jar?  Seems to me that the weight would warp the inner cover over time and it would be sitting on top of the frames.  

I have just started beekeeping with 1 established hive that a beekeeper gave me.
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« Reply #28 on: May 09, 2006, 04:31:26 PM »

BUT I just wonder, how the way to feed can be a problem? huh

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« Reply #29 on: May 10, 2006, 02:32:35 AM »

sorry to all those top feeder addicts.....I detest them! I got the styrene hive top from Betterbee. I have my hive on a platform and a hive stand so its well off the ground...
Not only did I have an ant problem, but I did get drowned bees as well. ....along with gross green algae growing on the bottom because there was decaying bees and ants...also filling the dang thing was a pain...the bees were down in the trough and couldn't get out of the way fast enough while I was filling. (major traffic jam if you will). And if you've ever held a 2 gallon jug at shoulder height waiting for bees to get out of the way as you fill it's not pleasant rolleyes  but then again I just may have flabby arms cheesy
but seriously, I would never buy another. The jar method is the best as far as I'm concerned.
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« Reply #30 on: May 10, 2006, 07:24:33 AM »

I have a Styrofoam top feeder from betterbee, the main problem people have with the top feeders is when they put them on they tend to fill them up with syrup, the best way to manage a top feeder and to keep it clean is not to put to much syrup in the feeder at one time if you can check it ever few days, I know some have hive not close to their home and tend to fill them up, just because it can hold 3 gallons doesn't mean you have to put 3 gallons in it, on my feeders I only put about a quart at a time, easier to work with, and about the ants, top feeders do tend to attract ants, I spray the bottom cinder blocks with ant poison on all my hives, I know it can kill my bee's but these fire ants can move in fast, I haven't had a problem yet, my hives are 2 cinder-blocks high and 4x4's on that....
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« Reply #31 on: May 10, 2006, 08:38:58 AM »

Quote from: MEdmonson
Newbe here!
 
  How well does the inner covers you get from lets say Dadant hold up a 1 gal jar?  Seems to me that the weight would warp the inner cover over time and it would be sitting on top of the frames.  

I have just started beekeeping with 1 established hive that a beekeeper gave me.


Depends on the inner cover I guess.  I make my own and use luan and have never had a problem.  If they are made out of masonite, it could be a problem. masonite will suck up moisture and warp like crazy,  they are a problem with normal hive moisture, let alone put wait on them.

I build mine with equal space on top and bottom, so if I ever start to see them warp,  I'll flip them over and warp them back the other way.   I have a few plastic inner covers for Kelley that I inherited, and they have support lugs on them that rest on the frames so they can't collapse.
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« Reply #32 on: May 10, 2006, 09:31:53 AM »

Robo,
  Would you be so kind as to give the dimensions of your inner cover using luan i.e. thickness of luan, trim size, etc.
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« Reply #33 on: May 10, 2006, 10:32:39 AM »

Quote from: MEdmonson
Robo,
  Would you be so kind as to give the dimensions of your inner cover using luan i.e. thickness of luan, trim size, etc.


I call it 1/4" luan,  but I think it is a tad thinner.   I make the trim 5/8" thick and 3/4" wide.  I cut a groove in the middle of the 5/8" to slide over the luan,  that gives ~3/8" space on both sides of the inner cover.

I also cut 2 oval holes (normal porter bee escape size), about 4 or 5 inches apart in the center, but perpendicular to the frames as opposed to parallel with the frames as will most commercial inner covers.   My theory is that it allows for better ventilation,  allows bees to access from more than just the center frames, and allows for 2 -  gallon jar feeders.



Note: The pictures I attached in the earlier post is from a DE hive, not the ones I build.  I put the 2 holes in the center.
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« Reply #34 on: May 10, 2006, 01:39:33 PM »

For feeding syrup I've used frame feeders, entrance feeders, top feeders and jars inverted over the inner cover. Nothing works as simply as the jars. Frame feeders are the worst I believe because they take up the space of one frame (less brood), bees drown by the hundreds even wioth cloth or sticks and the so called 'ladders' built in, entrance feedersd atract robbers, ants, wasps and even birds, plus they're usless in very cold weather, and top feeders - you've all echoed my complaints.
I keep bees for a lot of reasons, but the simple beauty of it as a hobby rates up there with everythign else. A jar slowly dripping in tothe hive seems to make my bees happy.
We have a big bloom in NY, the bees have stopped taking syrup, and the privet hedges havent even bllomed yet. When they do its like bee heaven. From hiving them in April (good friday) to now I have used so little syrup its amazing. Maybe one gallon between two hives.
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« Reply #35 on: May 10, 2006, 03:53:42 PM »

Quote from: GT

We have a big bloom in NY, the bees have stopped taking syrup, and the privet hedges havent even bllomed yet. When they do its like bee heaven. From hiving them in April (good friday) to now I have used so little syrup its amazing. Maybe one gallon between two hives.


I really don't understand this. Are you making honey from sugar.  shocked

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« Reply #36 on: May 10, 2006, 07:58:01 PM »

Quote
just because it can hold 3 gallons doesn't mean you have to put 3 gallons in it,


This is my first year and I started with one hive. I bought the BetterBee plastic hive top. It has worked well for me after I got use to it. I learned after I filled it full the first time that full wasn't the best thing so after they consumed all of the first, I never put more than 3qts.-gallon in at a time.

I had an ant problem initially but got a solution after posting on the forum.

When they have syrup in them they are awkward to handle because of the shifting syrup. I am going to modify mine for next year by adding two small handles to each end with nuts and bolts.

Bottom line is that I like them.
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« Reply #37 on: May 11, 2006, 12:08:27 PM »

Finsk  -

Why have bees if the honey is from the syrup? might as well switch from beekeeping to maple syrup production.
My message was trying to show positive progress to date from packaged bees - the bees are bringing in more pollen than I expected this time of year, taking less of my syrup than I would have guessed. hives are building up nicely.
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« Reply #38 on: May 11, 2006, 01:09:57 PM »

Save yourselves some money.  For spring time, I've started using the large plastic Folger's coffee containers with small holes punched in the lid that I collect for free from local restaurant. These small feed containers work great on nucs if your short on honey frames.  I use to purchase small feed buckets for $2 each but now containers are free.  In the fall, I use 5 gallon plastic feed containers that I purchased at local bee co-op for $5 each.  Both are easy to use, I don't have to open hives, just flip containers and feed through 2 inch hole in insulated lid.  Its cold up here in Canuck Ville and I like to get a head start on the spring build up so I do early spring feed (Feb/March) by inverting small containers on top the insulated lid and underneath my insulating pillows.
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« Reply #39 on: May 12, 2006, 08:37:57 AM »

Since this is a discussion focused on methods of feeding bees I just have to put in my two cents worth.  
My mentor used one gallon paint cans with holes punched in the lids so that the syrup stays in by vaccum.  I still use the same method today (40 years later).  Clean un-used cans can be purchased at most paint supply or hardware stores for a buck or two.  They have a bail by which to carry them, are easy to handle, and a standard hive body will hold 3 (if staggered) or a Nuc box 2 in line.  I've made up a magritory top with a Nuc box permenately mounted on it and a 4" hole in it.  With it I can easily feed 2 gallons of syrup at a time or use it to install package bees by putting the queen amid the frames and let the rest wonder out on their own.  I can feed or install bees even on a rainy day.
The cans and lids can also be washed in a dishwasher.  The only down side is that they only last five or six years due to the repeated pounding on of the lids.  
Regardless, sealed feeder containers are the only option I have due to having to beekeep from a wheelchair.  The handles on the cans help--due to my limitations open feeders are out of the question which is also why I use shallow 8 frames throughout.
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Zoot
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« Reply #40 on: May 12, 2006, 09:07:03 AM »

I'd be curious to learn your formula for puncturing your can lids. I used homade metal pail feeders back in the late 70's when I kept bees for about 6 years and never had a problem with them. Now I am stymied; all of my experiments with making a pail feeder this season (all plastic) failed, never achieved a proper vacuum. They dripped too much or not at all creating too much vacuum. So...I ended up buying one which works fine.
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BeeHopper
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« Reply #41 on: May 12, 2006, 06:36:30 PM »

This thread just keeps getting better. Thanks to all who have replied. I did not believe I would pick up so much from just one topic. Beekeepers must be a hardy and innovative bunch . Cheesy
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Jay
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« Reply #42 on: May 13, 2006, 05:12:55 PM »

Quote from: Zoot
I'd be curious to learn your formula for puncturing your can lids. I used homade metal pail feeders back in the late 70's when I kept bees for about 6 years and never had a problem with them. Now I am stymied; all of my experiments with making a pail feeder this season (all plastic) failed, never achieved a proper vacuum. They dripped too much or not at all creating too much vacuum. So...I ended up buying one which works fine.


The problem with the plastic is, when it gets cooler and warmer the plastic moves with the expantion and contraction and so squeezes out the liquid. That is why most people use glass jars for homemade feeders. Cheesy
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