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What Type of Feeder Should I Use?

There are so many options in beekeeping, right?! What type of feeder to use is one of the most commonly asked questions out there. Every feeder has its pros and cons, however, at the end of the day, the important factor is that you are feeding your bees when they should be fed. The bees don’t care much what kind of feeder you use, they just want the food!

Top Feeders

  • Always install above the top box of the hive
  • Holds several gallons so ideal for hives not visited frequently
  • Minimal drowning

Boardman/Entrance Feeder

  • Ideal for a new beekeeper to watch the rate of syrup consumption from a distance.
  • Must wear protective gear when swapping out feeder jars.
  • Holes are subject to stopping up if syrup isn’t completely dissolved and the jar stays clean
  • Prone to cause robbing – not conducive for winter feeding or during dearth

Division Board Feeder/Frame Feeder

  • Installed on the outside edge of a box in place of 1 or 2 frames, typically in the bottom brood box.
  • Comes in various sizes – 1, 1 ½ and 2 gallons.
  • Prone to drown bees – cap & ladder version preferred or installing a large piece of screen or deep foundation to minimize drowning.
  • Can be left year round.

 Bucket Feeder

  • Installed inside an empty box sitting on top of the top box.
  • A strong hive may build a spare comb inside the empty box, so it must be checked at least once every few weeks during the spring and summer months.
  • Can be used all year.

Bag Feeder

  • Ziploc style bags filled with syrup, directly on the top bars of the top box, with a spare box around it. Tiny holes or slits are cut on the top of the bag allowing the bees to drink the syrup.
  • Messy, but works well for winter feeding.

Lid Feeders 

A hole is cut in the center of a migratory style lid and fitted with a boardman feeder sized lid. A jar of syrup can be placed directly into the lid Works well for strong hives when the temperature is not freezing.

Keep in mind, sugar water only has a 7–10-day shelf life, so consider feeding corn syrup, or a blend of corn syrup and sugar syrup if you are feeding more than your bees can eat in 7-10 days.

If you do find mold in any of your feeders:

  • Empty out the syrup, and clean thoroughly.
  • Next time you make syrup, add a ½ teaspoon of unscented bleach per gallon of sugar water to prevent mold growing inside feeders. The bees love it, and it does not harm them.

You may also see little sugar ants eating the syrup as well. Typically, it is not a problem, and does not prevent the bees from eating the syrup during the day.

Watch as Blake shows us each feeder and how to use them!

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