Beekeeping: Feeding Your Bees With A Frame Feeder

by Tammy Taylor~

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Busy as a bee!  Our hives have increased this year thanks to us performing splits and capturing swarms.  All our bees are busy, busy, busy these days!  During the spring when everything was abloom they had all they could harvest.  Those girls were coming & going from the hives with pollen pockets full!  But now that the heat of our NE Texas season is starting to set in the blooms are not quite as prolific.  Oh there are still wildflowers blooming, and the bees are all having a hayday in my garden alright.  But with the fading blooms and the fact that we’re trying to boost some of those smaller swarm hives, RancherMan & I decided perhaps we need to give them a little feed.  There are many ways to accomplish this, here’s what we do:

There are different ways to feed your bees sugar water when they need a little help. We like using a frame feeder best. #TaylorMadeHomestead

As I’ve said before, every beekeeper does things differently.  Just because someone else does things one way doesn’t mean that will be what’s best for your own apiary.

RancherMan & I tried the canning-jar entrance feeders and there are many benefits to them.  First, they’re super easy to fill without disturbing the hive.  And secondly, it’s very easy to see how much feed remains so you know when to refill. It’s certainly the lower-disturbance way to get those girls fed.

But when we used the *entrance feeder method we experienced problems with ants as well as the other hives robbing.  Plus RancherMan thought those feeders just didn’t hold enough syrup.  Sometimes the bees would go through a jar in a day!  We still use the entrance feeders in another way though, I’ll be sure to share that soon.  But we don’t use them at the hive entrances anymore.

Enter the *frame feeder.  These small frame feeder boxes take the space of one of the frames in a deep box. The boxes we have include a bee ladder.  This allows the bees to get down into the feeder without drowning.  The ladder gives them a way to easily & safely climb back out.

There are different ways to feed your bees sugar water when they need a little help. We like using a frame feeder best. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Of course using this method has positives & negatives as well.  You’re losing a frame for the bees to build on so that’s obviously a drawback.  And you have to get into the hive to insert and to fill it.  Those are negatives too.  But it holds 3 quarts of feed and robbing is all but eliminated in our hives.  And since we began using the frame feeder we’ve had no problems with ants either.  For us, the positives outweigh the negatives so that’s the method RancherMan likes to use.

When it’s time to feed the bees, RancherMan will place the frame feeder in the top hive box.  When he first installs the frame feeders he’ll take them out already filled.  The bees will go through this much feed in about 4 days.

When it’s time to refill the feeder he’s come up with this shortcut.  He mixes the sugar and water at a 1-to-1 ratio and stirs until it’s completely dissolved.  Then he pours it into a plastic sun-tea pitcher we picked up for almost nothing at a thrift store.  (Have I mentioned lately how much I love thrift stores??  Our purchase was inexpensive & our dollars go to a good cause.  win/win!)

He’ll take the filled jar to the hives and remove the telescoping hive cover.  Then he’ll slowly slide the inner cover back just enough to expose the frame feeder.  Then he can just press the nozzle and the sugar water flows into the feeder without spilling anything into the hive!  Sometimes he takes a plastic funnel out there with him, but sometimes not.

Refilling frame feeder. There are different ways to feed your bees sugar water when they need a little help. We like using a frame feeder best. #TaylorMadeHomestead

Then he slowly replaces the inner cover and puts the top back on the hive, straps everything down and he’s done!  He typically makes notes in his beekeeper’s journal so he’ll know when it’s time to check the feeder again.  This frame-feeder method has worked best for us.

~TMH~

BEGINNING BEEKEEPING SERIES:

(You can see ALL our posts about beekeeping HERE)

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2 thoughts on “Beekeeping: Feeding Your Bees With A Frame Feeder

  1. Brenda Seader

    Smart! I like the ice tea jug idea. I use recycled plastic iced tea jugs from our recy center. I’ve had a lot of success with the “4 Pint Rapid Feeders” from eBay. Fit over hole in inner cover if you use one, great seal against insects, and you don’t get into the hive at all. Easy to move if you need to get into hive. I still use jars like yours on my nucs, tho. Sometimes you just can’t improve on the old tricks, just find new ways to use them! Thank you for a read I look forward to, every day!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I absolutely love when you say “”Sometimes you just can’t improve on the old tricks, just find new ways to use them!” Yes! We’ve used those jars inside a frameless honey super placed on top of the hive when they needed more. That worked out well, we didn’t have to get into the hive itself to fill, just lift the top & replace with full ones. ~TMH~

      Reply

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