Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Feeding Inside a Colony

During certain times of the year directly feeding a hive is beneficial to colonies development or survival. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish there are different ways to feed a colony inside of a hive and different things you may want to feed. You may want to feed pollen patties to your colonies to help build up the population or to supply a source of protein when there is no pollen available from foraging. You may find your colony light on stores during the winter and choose to feed granulated sugar. Medication may be administered through feeding syrup to a specific colony which needs it. Syrup is also used for brood rearing, wax production, and for building up winter stores. Though I am not feeding any medicine this post is about feeding invert sugar syrup to my colonies to help with brood rearing before the spring flow starts.

I have been feeding my bees communally for the past few weeks but have decided to place some syrup inside of my weaker hives. The stronger colonies have had an advantage over the smaller colonies with the communal feeding so by placing syrup inside the smaller colonies i hope to level the playing field. These colonies will no longer have to rely solely on the bees of foraging age to return from the field with syrup or nectar but now the house bees can gather syrup from within the hive and move it down to the brood where it is needed most. Another great advantage is that the bees can still continue to feed through inclement weather and during the night.

There are a few different types of inside feeders available commercially. There are a few different styles of hive top feeders, available but beekeepers do complain about bees drowning in them. The hive top feeders are convenient for the beekeeper because it holds a lot of syrup and is directly under the lid where it easy to refill. There is also a division board feeder but there are also complaints about bees drowning. This feeder holds less syrup than a hive top feeder and is more time consuming to access and use since it usually located in the brood chamber. Entrance feeders are really easy to use because you can see when they are empty. However with the syrup near the entrance it can induce robbing from other colonies. I have never experienced robing while using and entrance feeder and I do like to use them for the convenience factor. This time of year I prefer to use a double inside feeder.

To use the double inside feeder you need some extra hive bodies to place around the jars after they put on the inner lid. In the picture below you can see an empty hive atop each colony which will be getting a feeder.

You also need the double feeder. I made enough for every colony I have but only needed to use eight. The dimensions of the feeder is 12" long, 5 1/2" wide, and a 1/2" rim on the bottom. The 1/2 rim allows enough space for the bees to move freely under the feeder.

If you don't have any lids to go on the jars for the feeders they are easy to make. All you need is a 1 1/4" nail use to nail a top bar to the end bar when assembling a frame and a small block of wood. A soft piece of wood like pine will work best. Use the nail to poke holes in the canning lid while being careful not to drive the nail all the way through. You can make a few holes or more depending on how fast you want your bees to feed. The lids you can buy from the supply companies usually have sixteen holes.

After you get the hive bodies, double feeders, and syrup together it is time to put them to use. First remover the outer cover to expose the inner lid.

Then place the double inside feeder over the ventilation hole.

Then the jars go into the feeder. Be sure when that when you turn the jar over not to do it over the hive as syrup will stream out until the vacuum is created and keeps the syrup from coming out of the jar.

Then the empty hive body goes on to the inner lid to protect the jars.

After placing the outer lid in place it is best to use some weight to hold it and the empty hive down because the bees will not be able to access the cavity within to propolize them everything together.

In the picture below you can see the hives with the empty hive bodies in place over the inner lid.

I'm sorry about the poor quality of the pictures but it was near dusk and it was the best I could do at the time. I had spent most of the afternoon making syrup, painting hive bodies, cleaning jars, poking holes in lids, and making the double feeders so it was actually dark by the time I got finished with feeding the hives yesterday. Hopefully this has enlightened some of you about an inexpensive way to feed your colonies. The cost of the lids and bands for the canning jars were minimal and if you buy jars they will come with them. The wood I used to make the double inside feeders was some scrap lumber that I've had laying around garage that finally found a use. The jars are easy to use. All you need to do to refill the jars is just take a few jars out to your hives and replace the empty ones. I feel it much easier To use the inverted jars than it is to carry around a pail to refill a hive top feeder or division board feeder.

1 comment:

Κώστας Ελευθεριου said...

Dear friend i saw a very nice work from you,one more time.Here in Greece we use at most, top feeders or frame feeders, how much time get to the jar to be clean of surop.I am sorry about my English, i try as i can.