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Bee Feeders

For feeding syrup to bees

Many types of feeder exist, but in the main they follow similar principles of providing a liquid feed in a protected enclosure, so that bees or wasps are unable to access it.

As with many other items of beekeeping equipment, the different types often bear their originator's or modifier's name.

Drowning of bees is a problem in some feeders and can give rise to rapid propagation of nosema. Drowning is overcome by the use of some sort of cover to allow the syrup to flow through, but so the bees can't get into the main bulk. Feed should never be given to bees without the cover being put in place, something a beginner might do without realising what can happen. A feeder full of dead bees isn't a pretty sight. If the feeding is finished, then removing the cover to allow the bees to clean the residual food from the feeder is fine.

Frame feeders are the same size as a brood frame and can replace a frame in the brood box. There is usually a float or similar arrangement inside to prevent the bees from drowning. Some beekeepers, especially those with out apiaries, have a frame feeder permanently in the brood box of each colony in case they run short of food. Some polystyrene nuc boxes have a feeder similar to a frame feeder moulded into the box.

I have not used frame feeders very much as they haven't suited me, but many do. I use single brood box national hives, so I don't want to lose a comb, but this practice is probably more suited to those who use larger hives. I found if they are left in the brood box, the bees built comb in them and the queen laid in it. Wooden ones can leak, but plastic ones are available. To me, they seem a good idea, but not very practical for the way I operate and something else to clean and maintain.

For those who are able to make their own equipment the "Bro. Adam" type feeder is probably the easiest to make, but it will need sealing to prevent leakage.

The plastic bucket type with wire gauze in the lid, that are called "contact" feeders are very commonly used, but being plastic can degenerate if left in the light, becoming brittle and breaking or leaking. Covering up or putting inside a bin liner prevents that. One major problem I have had with plastic contact feeders is there are so many sizes that are all very similar, making it difficult to match the lids with the buckets if bought at different times or from different suppliers.

Roger Patterson.

Page created 14/05/2013

Page updated 04/09/2022