I plan to install these frame feeders as soon as possible. They arrived today from BeeMaid. The feeders have bee ladders: tubes of plastic mesh the bees crawl down as a way of drinking the syrup without drowning in it. The feeders hold 7 litres of syrup and take up the space of two frames in the brood chamber. (7 litres = 1.85 US gallons.)
My Boardman feeders attract ants, wasps and even big ugly slugs. (The Boardman feeders also encourage robbing at times from other bees.) It’s not a problem for the bees in Hive #1 because their numbers are so high, they can take care of themselves. But Hive #2 is weaker and having wasps around probably doesn’t help.
Not having to poke around the hives as much may be another advantage of switching to frame feeders. Hive #1 sucks up about a litre of syrup from the Boardman feeder every three days. If the bees continue at that pace, it could take them up to three weeks to empty 7 litres from the frame feeder, though we’ll likely refill it every two weeks after regular inspections regardless. (UPDATE: The bees drink much faster from the frame feeders. I should have had these things in from the start.)
August 25th, 2010: I just added one of the feeders to Hive #1. I had to remove two empty frames and one of them was full of bees just starting to build comb, so I placed it in front of the hive. They’ll fly back to the hive after they realized, “Hey, we’re not inside anymore!”
I only wore my veil and gloves. I sprayed the bees once with some sugar water when I banged the feeder down heavy. I only had 6 litres in it, but it still wasn’t easy to handle. I have to buy a large funnel for refilling. There’s no way I’m pulling that thing out every time I need to refill it. I’ll take a peek under the roof this weekend to see how fast they’re drinking the syrup. The colony in Hive #1 is still looking great to me.
September 6th, 2010: I’ve got a few tips on using these double frame feeders. First, though, bees will drown even with the bee ladders. Here’s how many drowned bees I found after a few weeks (not much):
So here are some tips on how to use these large double frame, 7-litre frame feeders without making too much mess and drowning too many bees:
1) Throw pieces of cork or wood chips down the bee ladders to prevent drowning.
2) Buy yourself a big funnel for refilling the feeder without having to remove it from the hive.
3) Drill a hole for the funnel on top of the feeder like this:
You can try refilling the feeder by pouring syrup down the bee ladder holes, but I think that’s how I managed to drown so many bees. The bee ladders are packed with bees. It’s probably best to avoid that and just use a separate funnel hole.
4) Don’t forget to plug over the funnel hole after refilling. (Or just lay something flat over the hole.)
5) Avoid spilling syrup by not filling the frame feeders to the very top. They hold 7 litres, but I wouldn’t put in more than 6. And pour the syrup in slowly to give the bees a chance to get out of the way of the rising tide of syrup.
March 11th, 2011: One flaw in the design of this feeder: It’s slightly too wide, just wide enough to jam up the rest of the frames in the box (as seen in this video). It leaves no wiggle room for the remaining 8 frames, which makes it more difficult to remove frames during hive inspections. The feeder also bulges out when it’s full of syrup, so much that the sides will cut into any honey comb adjacent to it. You have to watch out for that.
August 27th, 2011: Here’s a video that shows how to refill the frame feeder.
November 2018 Postscript: I like these frame feeders, but other feeders that rest on the inner cover above the brood nest work too, and may be more convenient for some people. I still vote for frame feeders for new beekeepers because it gives you an excuse to open up the hives and at least take a peek inside every few days. I know some beekeepers say it’s best to leave the bees alone as much as you can, which is generally true, but new beekeepers who hardly look inside their hives sometimes seem to take the leave-the-bees-alone approach too far, to the point where it takes them forever to learn about what’s going on inside the hive — because they never look inside the hive. During my first two years of beekeeping, I doubt there was a week where I didn’t look inside the hives for some legitimate or made-up reason. I learned more from sticking my face in my hives as much as possible during the first two years than I did from any book or beekeeping mentor. It’s not for everyone, but it worked for me.
I have the single frame feeder and when full typically get 3.5 days and it is empty. I just installed my second super on my hive and added the frame feeder to the second hive in hopes it will increase wax making. Unlike yourself I used the plastic bases. I’m more concerned about population growth and energy stores for the winter. I’ll give them 4 days and I’ll fill the feeder with sugar syrup again.
If the hive makes it through the winter I’ll try frames without base. Also I think I need to move my hive next year to a spot with a little more sun. I think it makes a difference in their foraging.
I have the single frame feeder and when full typically get 3.5 days and it is empty.
I’ll take a peek at mine every week then and see how it goes. I picked up the 2-frame feeders because they have the bee ladders to prevent drowning — and they were about the same price. When the bees are close to filling the brood box, I’ll remove the feeder and let them fill in the last two frames.
I’ve heard of bees building comb inside feeders, too. So I’ll have to see how it goes.
Unlike yourself I used the plastic bases.
Some info on foundationless frames and why I’m trying to go down that road:
Basically, the bees build comb quicker without the aid of foundation and it’s definitely no worse for them, and it might even be better, so I’m going for it. Most of the frames in my brood boxes have foundation, though.
Iâ€™m more concerned about population growth and energy stores for the winter. Iâ€™ll give them 4 days and Iâ€™ll fill the feeder with sugar syrup again.
This is my big concern now too. I think my first hive will be filled with honey and bees by the time winter kicks in. But the second hive is a different story. I’m not sure they have the population now to fill up a second brood chamber. I have to call Aubrey soon.
If the hive makes it through the winter Iâ€™ll try frames without base.
Now that I’ve seen the bees build without foundation, I’m definitely going that way for my honey supers. I’m not interested in using an extractor (or buying one). I’ll have to be more careful when inspecting the frames, but otherwise, if the bees can go foundationless, then I won’t stop them — and it’s cool to see how they build the natural comb.
Also I think I need to move my hive next year to a spot with a little more sun. I think it makes a difference in their foraging.
I agree. I think that may be part of the problem with my second hive. They don’t get as much direct sunlight as the first hive, so they just don’t warm up fast enough or long enough to forage as much. They’re definitely the weaker hive.
My problem is I’m running out of land. My backyard is tiny.
You said, “I just installed my second super on my hive…”
How did you do that? Did you just drop an empty box on top, or did you move up some of the drawn out frames to the new box?
When I picked up our nuc boxes, Paige told us, when the time came to expand the hive, to move a few drawn out frames into the second brood box to encourage the bees to build in it, and at least one frame should have brood. She also said that the bees will often swarm if a new box with no drawn out frame is placed on top of the original brood chamber. So it’s usually best to move up some brood frames when added the second box.
Do your foundations have a wax coating? If not, did you spray them down with sugar water before you installed them?
There was one frame left to draw out wax. Partly drawn out. So what I did was move up two frames with brood. Both of those frames were placed in the middle. Also I placed two empty frames placed between frames on the bottom super. Also empty frames had wax and I also sprayed sugar syrup on the foundation. Once dried in and the second just before I placed in the bottom of the first super and the rest on the second super. One frame was left out so the frame feeder could be installed. I’, going to check the frame feeder on Thursday or Friday. If everything is going well I’ll fill it again and I may as some pollen substitute.
I think my hive is somewhere in between your two. But I noticed major increase in comb once the frame feeder was added.
I noticed when the sun hits the hive miday the bees go nuts. So I have to move them next year.
I should send you a pic of the backyard sometime. Between the bees, hens, fruit trees and veggie garden it gets crazy busy at times.
You said: “So what I did was move up two frames with brood. Both of those frames were placed in the middle. Also I placed two empty frames placed between frames on the bottom super.”
That’s what I should have done when I expanded Hive #1. I was lucky I didn’t kill half the brood with all my checkerboarding. Fortunately, the colony was strong enough to keep chugging along.
I’ll definitely play it safer this weekend with Hive #2, the weaker colony.
You said: “If everything is going well Iâ€™ll fill it [the frame feeder] again and I may add some pollen substitute.”
My bees are bringing back loads of pollen, but I should order some substitute to have around when I need it. (I still don’t have a plan for wintering the bees.)
You said: “I noticed when the sun hits the hive midday the bees go nuts. So I have to move them next year.”
That agrees with my observations too. Hive #1 gets direct sunlight on the entrance side from about 8am to 2pm or later. They’re active until about 8pm as long as it’s above 15 degrees. Hive #2, the weaker colony, doesn’t get direct sunlight until about an hour later, and then it’s in shade by about 1 o’clock. It also has grass growing around it, whereas Hive #1 is built on a base surrounded by weed guard and cedar chips — which may have kept more dew and moisture away from the bottom of the hive. I don’t know, but later in the fall we’re going to change up some of the landscape around Hive #2 so the grass can’t grow into it.
You said: “I should send you a pic of the backyard sometime. Between the bees, hens, fruit trees and veggie garden it gets crazy busy at times.”
I’d love to see that. Sounds like you’ve got a great area for bees. We have a large field on our property behind our shed where I’d love to set up more hives. But the neighbourhood kids from Buckmaster Circle make it impossible to do anything back there. They light the field on fire at least once a year and destroy any kind of structure I put back there.
But yeah, email me a photo sometime. I’d love to see your bees.
I’m not certain how to get your email. You have my email drop me a note back and I will send pics as well as give you my phone number.
Once I get your email I’ll send some pics.
I just sent you an email. Let me know if you got it. My public email address is listed on the Contact page, though. It’s phillip [at] mudsongs [dot] org.
Just pulled the outer and inner cover off the hive. The single frame feeder was empty. I was amazed. Also I took a look at the top frames with just foundation. Five differnet frames have comb being formed, some almost half done,The way it is going they will have one side of the frames done by the weekend. I was amazed. The bees were flat out in and out of the hive. Not to the same degree as your #1 but well moving. Also I filled up the frame feeder again. Still didn’t add any pollen substitue as there is still some some clover and fireweed. But Golden Rod is coming on strong now, with a good bit around so they have no problem collecting pollen. Assuming they have enough energy stores, nectar and sugar syrup they can easily step of the pollen requirements. You can see the bright yellow pollen coming on the bees.
Still looks like some chalk brood. Sent an email to Andrea today just to discuss.
Just pulled the outer and inner cover off the hive. The single frame feeder was empty. I was amazed.
I’ll be curious to see how much my bees have taken from the 2-frame feeder by this weekend. I notice there are already less wasps hanging around the hive now. Though I can understand why the hive attracts other insects. The smell of honey is in the air (I think it’s honey anyway).
The way it is going they will have one side of the frames done by the weekend.
When the weather is warm, the bees get a lot done in a hurry. I’m always impressed, especially with Hive #1. I’m thinking about moving Hive #2. I can see the colony is getting larger, but they’re still not as active as Hive #1 was before I added the second brood box. It could be the queen, but I think it’s more likely a lack of direct sun. Hive #2 doesn’t get any more than 4 hours of direct sun every day at the most, whereas Hive #1 is pretty much in the sun all day — and there’s a big difference between the two hives.
Still didnâ€™t add any pollen substitue as there is still some some clover and fireweed. But Golden Rod is coming on strong now, with a good bit around so they have no problem collecting pollen.
I have no idea where my bees are collecting their pollen and nectar. I see them come back loaded with white pollen and yellow-orange pollen. There was more while a couple weeks ago. Now there’s more yellow. The city doesn’t have many large fields full of flowers, but there’s a lot of diversity.
You can see the bright yellow pollen coming on the bees.
Yeah, just what I was saying. There’s more yellow pollen showing up now.
Still looks like some chalk brood.
Here’s an idea if chalk brood is brought on by excess moisture. Remove the top cover of your hive for better ventilation on hot days. Put a screen or a queen excluder over the inner cover just to be safe, and let the hole on top of the inner cover create some extra air flow.
I may do this today at lunch if it’s really hot. I noticed condensation on one side of the inner cover when I added the frame feeder the other day, and I can feel the heat pouring out the hive entrance in the evening. I don’t think there’s much chance of the bees freezing during the day.
I also plan to order some bottom boards before next spring. I’m going to modify them into screened bottom boards and install them once things warm up in the summer.
The more I read about screened bottom boards, the more I’m sold on them. I’d like to try a screened bottom board for wintering the bees, too, but I might wait until I have more well established hives. (We plan to start up another 2 next year.)
Where tp start. The weather in Clarenville was 28Â°C yesterday. The bees were going mad and you coudl smell the hive. Once again similiar to yourself. Not certain if it is honey or pheromones. It is kind of a sweet almost sickly smell, yet not bad smelling. Kind of hard to discribe.
I noticed a bumble bee trying to get in the hive yesterday. That was a hoot to watch. The guard bees sent that bumble flying in a hurry. I wish I could have recorded that. I guess the smell was drawing the bumble bee in.
I also have the notch cut out in my inner box. I’m amazed on how many bees that as an entrance into the hive. You can see the bees fanning there and at the base. They were lined up yesterday. The same time the bumble wee was tryign to get in.
From your post above. I think the white pollen is from the clover and the bright yellow I’m seeing now must be golden rod. There is a good amount of golden rod in my area. Also the bees are colelcting this olive colored pollen. Curious to know where that is coming from.
I normally use a smoker. But after listinening to you I decied to try the sugar syrup in a spray bottle. Using the combination of both it really sooths the bees. First I try a little bit of cold smoke. Following this I mist them really well with the sugar syrup. It’s like the bees are body stoned. Man do they get mellow. The only time I use the smoke after that is to move them off the frames where I intend to grab hold (on the ends).
The only thing I noticed lately when trying to lift frames out of the hive there are awalys two or three bees that fly off and land on the tool or come after my hand, even when they are calm. Since I am bare handed it makes me nervous. Any ideas why the bees do this?
I’m thinking of trying to make some bottom boards next year where you can pull out the base to show a screened bottom. Especially for summer use when the numebers are greater and temperatures are warmer. In the winter I think I am partial to the wooden bottom board to minimze drafts. Especially with all the wind we get in Newfoundland.
Are you seeing much accumulation on your bottom boards? I’m seeing stuff that resembles semi find ground black pepper. Except brown in color instead of black. I know what it is but I was wondering if you are seeing of this sort of stuff accumulate in your hives.
I’m planning on getting two more nucs next year as well. I already told Andrea. Also she told me I could do a split of my existing hive next year. You could do that with both of your hives. Then you could have six hives next year. Only downside is there will be little honey to collect for next year if you make splits. Something worth while to read upon. There are different stragities.
I noticed a bumble bee trying to get in the hive yesterday. That was a hoot to watch. The guard bees sent that bumble flying in a hurry. I wish I could have recorded that. I guess the smell was drawing the bumble bee in.
I’ve seen that too. If a bubble bee did get in the hive, I think it’s would be dead in about 30 seconds.
I also have the notch cut out in my inner box. Iâ€™m amazed on how many bees [use] that as an entrance into the hive.
Mine too. The bottom board entrance is the main entrance, but I see plenty entering the top notch of the inner cover.
Following this I mist them really well with the sugar syrup. Itâ€™s like the bees are body stoned.
I know. I give them a good spray of sugar water, and they react to it like, “Man, this stuff is goooood. Oh yeah.”
The only thing I noticed lately when trying to lift frames out of the hive there are always two or three bees that fly off and land on the tool or come after my hand, even when they are calm. Since I am bare handed it makes me nervous. Any ideas why the bees do this?
Are they trying to sting you or just curious about you? I noticed the bees crawling over me a little more this past week, even when I’m just out there looking at them coming and going. I think it might just be curious baby bees. I’ve seen videos of beekeepers who don’t use gloves, and the bees will start crawling all over their hands immediately. Could just be a sign of young bees hatching.
Are you seeing much accumulation on your bottom boards? Iâ€™m seeing stuff that resembles semi find ground black pepper. Except brown in colour instead of black. I know what it is but I was wondering if you are seeing of this sort of stuff accumulate in your hives.
I’ve kept entrance reducers on the hives most of the time (I just use old pieces of wood). Only in the past few days during the day I have completely removed the entrance reducers on Hive #1 — the robust hive. I figure their numbers are high enough to defend a full entrance now. I put a small reducer back on in the evening to keep the heat in for the night. Anyway, I do notice some dirt piling up along the area where the entrance reducer used to be. But the bees are quick to clean it out. I see bits of raw clear wax too.
Iâ€™m planning on getting two more nucs next year as well. I already told Andrea. Also she told me I could do a split of my existing hive next year.
I thought about that, too, but I think I’ll bite the bullet and buy two more nucs for next year instead. I’m more eager to get the colonies I already have well established before I try anything fancy. But then I’ll definitely do splits after that. I don’t like being entirely dependent on a single beekeeper for my bees. I wonder if Aubrey sells nucs. I’d buy them from him if he had them just because he’s only 30 minutes away from St. John’s instead of 9 hours.
I may not move Hive #2 to a sunnier part of the yard. Or if I do, it’ll be a slow process. I’ve done more reading and one piece of advice keeps coming up:
If you’re going to move a hive, it’s best to move it over three miles or under three feet. Over three miles and the bees will be out of their flying area and will immediately re-orientate themselves with entirely new landmarks. But if it’s under 3 miles, the returning bees may orientate themselves to familiar landmarks but won’t find the hive where it used to be — even if it’s only 20 feet away. And they’ll die.
So the trick for moving a hive, say 20 feet away, is to move it about 12 inches every day until it’s where you want it to be. It would take a couple weeks to move my hive to a sunnier part of the yard.
I’m still tempted, though, because Hive #2 is in full shade by 1 o’clock. They’re never as active as Hive #1.
You can really smell the hive tonight. It was 30.5Â°C today when I got home. I was out in the yard splitting some wood about 60 feet away and you can smell the hive. I guess they are evaporating nectar.
I guess they are evaporating nectar.
Ah, that makes sense. The smell isn’t exactly honey but it’s very beeish. That’s it. Evaporating nectar. Now I can tell people, “That’s evaporating nectar,” and sound like I know what I’m talking about.
It was a very still in Clarenville last night and I was down hill of the hive so I assume that is why the smell was so strong. My only concern now is if I can smell it so can potential bears as my property backs onto a green belt. The only thing separating my yard from teh woods is a road.
Bring on the golden rod. That must be what the bees are harvesting now.
Imagine the intensity if 4 or 5 were clustered in the same area. The smell would be overwheling. This bee thing is amazing. They never cease to amaze me.
Well, for about a month now, I’ve had the frame feeders installed in both hives over the inner cover and inside empty supers. Hive #2 sucks up the syrup from the feeders like mad. Hive #1 stopped taking syrup (or if does take anything, whatever it takes is minimal) a couple weeks ago. I checked again today, and still nothing. So I moved its nearly-full frame feeder to Hive #2.
Then I added a top hive feeder (arrived yesterday) to Hive #1 and filled up one side of the feeder. The syrup is extremely thick with such a high surface tension, I’m not too worried about drowning bees. But I have my doubts the bees will take up any of the syrup anyway. I was told the queen for that colony may not be dead, but I don’t know, the last time I checked, there was still a lot of empty space left in the hive, at least one frame that still hadn’t been drown out.
Anyway, maybe they’ll notice the syrup from the top hive feeder, which brings the syrup closer to them. I have my doubts. Whatever is going on with Hive #1, I think it’s pretty much done with the syrup for the year.
If Hive #2 continues to suck up the syrup like mad, I’ll remove the frame feeders once they’re empty (it has two of them now) and install the other top hive feeder and see what happens.
I’m working steady until the 13th, so I probably won’t post any photos or anything until late next week. Hopefully, I’ll have built my insulated inner covers by then.
could you move one of the full honey/syrup frames from hive #2 and put in hive #1. Assuming hive #2 is still building comb and storing syrup?
I didn’t think of that. I suppose I could. I know Hive #2 is building like crazy. I might give it try early next week. I don’t time to try anything this weekend. I’m working. Not a bad idea though. Thanks.
I added a half-filled top hive feeder to Hive #1 a few day ago. That’s the hive that may be queenless. I can’t tell. Anyway, most of the syrup is gone from the feeder now. A lot of bees have drowned, but I’m not worried. At least they’re taking up syrup now… unless of course the syrup is being sucked up by other bees robbing the hive. Anyway, I’ll add a top hive feeder to both hives for the next couple weeks. They seem to work well.
Mine are still cracking it to the boardman feeders. They have slowed down a bit but they are still averaging more than a liter a day of 2:1
I think next year I’m going to try some pickle jars on the top side of the inner cover. Also those warren’s tasty weiner bottles would work well but I don’t eat those. I’ll have to find somseone who does.
I think next year Iâ€™m going to try some pickle jars on the top side of the inner cover.
I might try that too, or a big bucket. Judging from this Bushkill Farms review, the benefit of feeding through large jars or plastic buckets over the inner cover hole is that the bees can take the feed without breaking cluster and losing heat, and robbing is difficult because the feed can only be access from inside the hive through the inner cover hole. Seems like it’s not a bad idea for when it’s so cold the bees are confined to the hive. This time of year, though, my bees are still flying all over the place and the top hive feeder is working fine, and they can probably take up a lot more syrup from it than they would from a jar.
You can buy the round metal creen mesh from Beemaid. I bought a 5 gallon lid with it included for external feeding in the spring and 3 small pieces of the mesh to imbed into the plastic lid.
All I can do is try to imbed it into the lid.
The advantage of teh jar over boardman feeders is, due to jar inside the hive. Larger volume of sugar syrup. Less top ups and a happier wife as I’m, spending less time with the bees. And it keep warmer inside the extra super on top of the inner cover. A gallon paid would do the same thing.