Bees are not very dependent on humans, but still, sometimes they need help. A bee feeder, for example, is able to support a bee colony in an unforeseen situation. What are bee feeders and how to diy honey bee feeder, will be discussed in this article.
Table of Contents
- What are bee feeders for?
- Basic requirements for bee feeder
- What are bee feeders?
- diy honey bee feeder step by step guide
- FAQs about Bee Feeders
What are bee feeders for?
Bees need to be fed additionally if they do not have enough food. Food shortage can lead to the death of insects. It is worth remembering that the feeder is not installed forever – it must be at hand so that in an unforeseen situation (both in winter and in summer) it can be used for its intended purpose.
There are several situations in which you cannot do without a bee feeder:
- feeding with flavored syrups (performed to train bees for new honey plants);
- creation of a new apiary (insects need support, because they are not familiar with the new area and honey crops on it);
- feeding medicinal formulations;
- the onset of winter (sometimes additional feeders are installed in the fall, before the onset of frost, so that the bees are better prepared for winter).
Basic requirements for bee feeder
Before proceeding with the manufacture of the feeder, familiarize yourself with the requirements that it must meet:
- convenience – it is important that the bees eat easily and safely, do not drown in the feeder;
- ease of cleaning and washing ;
- free access – insects should freely get to food;
- neutrality – it is impossible for the feeder to react with food or the contents of the hive, otherwise the chemical composition of the feed may change;
- one feeder for one hive – bees from neighboring houses should not have access to the feeder;
- transparency – a person should see from afar how much food is left, without disturbing the insects once again;
- capacity – it is necessary that the feeder can hold up to 500 g of medicines or up to 4 kg of food.
Pay attention ! Before you start using the feeder (any), be sure to wash it in warm water. Detergents must not be used as they may be toxic to insects!
What are bee feeders?
According to the installation method, bee feeders can be internal or external. The latter, in turn, are divided into free-standing and mounted. We do not recommend using outdoor feeders, as they have many disadvantages. In particular, they:
- may attract wildlife such as wasps, raccoons, birds, or even bears;
- lead to the fact that the bees fight among themselves, which means that weak bee colonies become even weaker;
- increase the risk that bees will transmit parasites and diseases to each other.
There are different types of bee feeders.
Internal structures according to the installation method can be floor and ceiling. Frame feeders are installed on the side walls, bags, boxes, plastic bottles are installed on the ceiling. Also, external canisters are often used, which provide access only from the hive.
Outdoor bee feeders, as you might guess from the name, are installed on the outside of the hive. They can be plastic or wooden, made in the form of a box or other tank. Food is poured inside. A passage is made through the wall for insects, and a raft is also installed inside the structure, on which the bees sit down during feeding. The main disadvantage is the dependence of the feeder on the temperature outside. If the air is cold, then the food cools down, and insects are reluctant to eat it.
diy honey bee feeder step by step guide
There are different situations in which the question of self-manufacturing a feeder may arise:
- many options have been tried, but none completely satisfied you;
- you want to save money;
- feeder is urgently needed.
Before proceeding with the design, study the principle of operation, and only then take up the drawings and direct manufacturing. There should be a container with syrup in the feeder, as well as a path through which the bees will get to food. Moreover, the way they interact with the syrup should be as safe as possible.
Option 1. diy Plastic bottle honey bee feeder
The simplest construction of this type consists of:
For reliable installation of the feeder, the bottle is attached to the pallet with clamps. The feeder can be placed at the entrance to the hive or, alternatively, installed above the frames (without the use of fasteners).
Most of the hives have a standard design, and therefore you can always purchase feeders and other accessories for them at the nearest beekeeper store.
The horizontal design is extremely simple. To make it, you only need a red-hot nail and a plastic bottle of any size. Armed with a nail, make 3-4 holes in the bottle with a diameter of no more than 3 mm. Then pour in the syrup and lay the bottle on top of the frames horizontally. Syrup, leaking from pre-made holes, will be consumed by insects.
The vertical design is a bottle on a wooden platform, suitable for the entrance to the house. Through the holes in the lid of the inverted container, the bees get access to the food.
Option 2. Diy frame top feeder
It can also be plastic or wooden, it is a box with partitions. The height of such a feeder should be at least 30 cm. Mount it on a frame of boards, and install it above the frames. When calculating the dimensions of the structure, it is necessary to proceed from the dimensions of a particular hive.
What is required for work:
- Hammergalvanized mesh
- Metal shearsscrews
- Moisture resistant glue
The boards will be used to make the structure floor (10″ x 11 7/8″ x 3/8″), inner wall (1″ x 3″ x 12 1/2″), feeder ends (1 x 4″ x 11 5 /8″) and its long sides (1″ x 4″ x 13 1/2″).
Pay attention ! To avoid mistakes, read the design drawing and adjust the dimensions for your hive. You can use beeswax to seal the syrup portion.
Step 1 . Take the boards, make the sides of the box out of them – 2 short and 2 long. Check if they fit the space above the frame where you will install them later.
Step 2 . From the same board, make the inner wall. Make slots in which to install the floor (plywood sheet). We advise you to make the grooves larger than the thickness of the plywood, because the wood tends to expand due to moisture.
Step 3 Install the inner plank, leaving room for the bees to pass through. Assemble the box with screws. For joints, use wood glue.
Step 4 After assembly, you will see 2 holes at the end of the feeder, left by narrow slots for the floor. If left open, they can act as an entrance/exit for insects. You can add small pieces of metal to them that will block the passage if you need to fill the feeder.
Attach the mesh to the inner wall. Treat the seams and bottom with wax, which will protect against moisture and prevent the development of mold. To check the tightness of the joints, fill the structure with water for several hours.
Step 5 Cover the part of the structure through which the insects will get to the feed with a metal mesh. Cover the top with clear plastic or polycarbonate for added convenience.
Option 3. Diy Glass jar Honey bee feeder
This design is also installed at the entrance. The basic version of the feeder is extremely simple: a can of food is installed on a wooden platform. Through the holes that are in the lid of the inverted jar, insects gain access to food.
The feeder is good because you can always see the level of syrup. This means that you will not need to open the hive to check / replace. But there is also a minus – the design, as noted above, can attract other insects.
Step 1 . According to the dimensions indicated in the picture below, cut out a couple of boards. They will serve as sidewalls for the frame.
Step 2 . Cut a piece of sheet metal 14″ x 4 ½”. Clean up sharp edges.
Step 3 On the lines that are marked in the photo with a red marker, bend the sheet at an angle of 90 degrees. The resulting part must fit into the entry profile of the board.
Step 4 Slide the side frame board to the entry profile bend in the sheet, mark on it where the back of the side frame will be. Repeat the same on each side of the metal sheet. Draw a straight line between the two marks – this will be the first deflection for the feeder.
Step 5 Make a mark on the sheet while holding the side panel of the frame in place to mark the fold line. Draw a line between the marks, then secure the sheet of metal in a vise. Bend it along the intended line at a right angle.
Step 6 On the feeder sheet, draw a circle around the diameter of the can. Make a hole using a circular saw. After smoothing the sharp edges, connect the structural parts with a screwdriver.
Step 7 . Make any number of holes in the lid. Pour the syrup into the jar, set it upside down – as a result, the food will linger inside.
Option 4. Plastic bag feeder
A popular option in large apiaries where you need a lot of feed but don’t have time to mess around with more complex feeders. It is a regular package with syrup, which is placed on top of the frames. Extremely simple, agree, but if the package breaks, then the contents will flood the hive to its full depth and kill some of the bees.
It is more convenient to use ziplock bags. Usually they make a neat incision so that the bees feed through it. However, experienced beekeepers, instead of making an incision, are advised to simply sprinkle the bag with syrup to attract the attention of insects. And they will make the holes themselves, and the most correct sizes.
FAQs about Bee Feeders
What are bee feeders for?
Such feeders come in different types and are used to feed insects if necessary.
When should bees be fed?
Feeding can be organized almost the whole year (except for winter), if there is insufficient bribes, high insect mortality, cold weather (and therefore a shortage of flowering plants), a weak bee colony, and so on.
How are ceiling feeders installed?
They need to be placed above the frames, laying or installing on top of them.
Which feeder to choose?
All designs have their strengths and weaknesses. When choosing one or another of them, consider the requirements for feeders, convenience for bees and the beekeeper. But remember that you will eventually have to adapt to the feeder that works best for the insects.