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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bee Feeder

Here is what I am using as feeder. Bee feeding is over for this season but one of the great things about this feeder is I will be able to use it as a waterer. Bees need a clean water source near the hive.

There is a common bee feeder called a boardman feeder. The biggest problem with this feeder is that unless the bees clean up the feed quickly it will leak into the bottom of the hive and make a mess. The good news is that bees usually clean up the feed very quickly so the boardman feeder is simple and has worked great for many years.

The problem with many other attempts to build a better feeder is that they usually drown more bees than they feed. So I thought about this whole idea of feeding bees sugar water and keeping them from drowning.

So the idea came to me that if the water was shallow enough the bees could get out and not drown. The water bottle developed and sold by so many people work great at keeping the water or in this case sugar water bee feed from dripping into the bottom of the hive. The trick was to make the water shallow enough for the bees.

ROCKS. The work great. I did not drown one bee and they were drinking the 1/2 gallon of feed in about 3 days. I was surprised at how quick they drank the stuff but no lie they emptied the bottle every 3 days. I kept the feeders full for about 2 weeks after the new install. I will convert them to water soon. Right now there is more water around than we can deal with, rain, rain, rain.


Anonymous said...

made a bee-feeder using a plastic cat waterer and some aquarium pebbles. i filled the reservoir with syrup, put aquarium rock in the tray portion so the bees would have traction to walk and to prevent them from entering the reservoir.
it was a bad decision.
they burrowed through the aquarium rock and were trapped in the reservoir. by the time i discovered it, over 330 bees dead. i counted the ones the ants hadnt carried off. dont try this. it will kill bees.

Curtis said...

Interesting outcome. If you look at the pictures you will see some screen in the opening. That really didn't work and I did drown a few bees on this first attempt. Later I had to add more rocks to insure there were no pools deep enough for the bees to drown. I don't know the exact type of feeder you used but the one I used in the pictures the bees could not get to the reservoir it was in the bottle. By default this device makes a pool about 3/4 inch deep with no place for the bees to land. Bees will drown in anything much deeper than 1/8 inch. Plus, they get weighted down quickly with sugar if they can't get out of the sugar water. I have seen bees land in the deep parts and get covered with sugar water. If they can walk out they will. Once on “dry land” they start cleaning the sugar off. Other bees help sometimes and if they can get their wings clean and they can make themselves light enough they will take off. But this takes a long time. That is why I use bigger rocks with flat surfaces that stick out of the syrup quite a way. I also insure there are no pools deep enough to drown them even between the rocks. I have spent quite a bit of time watching them. The water and sugar wick up the rocks quite a way from the water line. It is at the top of the wick line that the bees gather. They rarely get close to the actual sugar water. It is amazing to me how quickly they empty the bottle when they never touch the water. I never drown bees in this device.