Top 5 bee feeders and how to use them?

01.07.2020. 12:00

In nature bee, colonies sustain themselves and thrive without any need for human intervention. Once bees have built their hive and established their colony, they can locate and collect resources located even several miles from the hive.

They utilize the resources to make honey, which serves as food and is also reserved for the colony's future needs.

However, when it comes to beekeeping, bees may need a helping hand. Sometimes available resources are not enough to sustain the colony and leave enough honey for a beekeeper to collect.

Luckily, this is where a bee feeder comes into the picture. 

Why use a bee feeder?

Using a bee feeder provides an additional food resource to your bees and lets them take care of themselves at all other times.

Natural resources are always better suited for their needs, but sometimes they need additional support

When to use a bee feeder?

The bee feeder is meant to be used only in some specific situations. Some beekeepers keep the bee feeder in the hive throughout the year, which is wrong.

Additional feeding is needed when the colony is short in supply of food. In this case, if no food is provided, the bees may starve to death. When the colony has enough food, it shouldn’t depend on the feeder. 

Food shortage is a common problem for any bee colony not only during winter but also during summer. Every beekeeper has to monitor their hives' food reserves and react accordingly. If bees starve to death during the summer, the responsibility lies on the beekeeper taking care of those bees. 

There are two everyday situations where a bee feeder is useful.

Establishing a colony

A new colony being established is the most obvious time to use a feeder since bees are being placed in a home with no resources. If you don’t use a bee feeder in this situation, you are making your bees to leave the hive and gather their food while hungry.

An unfortunate thing that can happen is that bees don’t manage to gather enough food, and the colony dies. We recommend installing a bee feeder as a part of the initial hive setup when introducing packaged bees. 

Winter approaching

Usually, bees gather enough food to last them through the winter, but sometimes bees need a little help. The beekeeper may help the bees by feeding them in fall as winter approaches.

But don’t feed the bees just because, assess the need and decide accordingly. 

Where do you put a bee feeder?

  • Entrance feeder 

As the name implies, entrance feeders are put at the entrance to the beehive. The design is very simple and consists of a feeding jar sitting on a wood platform.

The bees access the food through holes in the lid of the jar. 

A plus side of the entrance feeder is that you can see the level of remaining syrup from the outside the hive, which doesn’t require opening the beehive.

However, a disadvantage is that its position on the outside of the hive may invite robber bees. 

  • Hive top feeder

A hive top feeder sits on top of the upper box aligned with a hole in the inner cover. The most common top feeder is an inverted mason jar with small holes in the lid. The vacuum above the syrup prevents the syrup from pouring out. 

Beekeepers usually put an empty hive box around the top feeder, which protects it from the elements and robbers. Even though you cannot check the remaining food as quickly as with an entrance feeder, it is still quite simple. You need to remove the protecting box to take a look. 

  • Frame feeder

Frame feeder replaces one of the frames in a Langstroth hive, and it is sometimes referred to as a division board feeder. With this feeder, there is a risk of bees drowning, so they usually have built-in floats on which the bees can rest while feeding. 

An advantage is that it is positioned within the hive, so there is no threat from robbers, but on the other hand, the inspection is harder

Top 5 bee feeders

1. Bee Loyal Rapid Round Bee Feeder - 2 Pack

The rapid round bee feeder is a quality feeder made of plastic that is safe for bees. Its dimensions are 10 10.5 inches in diameter and 2 inches of depth. The usage is simple, just place it over the hole in the top of the hive.

2. Little Giant Frame Feeder (3 Quart)

This frame feeder is an excellent option whether you are a beginner or an expert beekeeper. The ideal 3-quart size can hold a generous amount of syrup for your bees.

The feeder has inner ladders and grooved sides that help the bees access the syrup while also preventing drowning. Put the feeder in the hive box and you are ready to start feeding your bees!

3. Little Giant Plastic Bucket Bee Feeder (2 Gallon)

A convenient size of a plastic bucket bee feeder with 2-gallon capacity is perfect when you need a feeder that can hold enough syrup to last for a while.

A unique feature is a tightly fitting secure lid that will ensure that no syrup is lost to robbing insects.

You place this feeder on top of the inner cover to allow bees access to the syrup through tiny holes in the lid.

4. Front Entrance Honey Bee Feeder - 2 Pack

A front entrance bee feeder, commonly known as a Boardman entrance feeder, can be used at the entrance or as a top feeder inside any hive. The way this bee feeder works is that you screw a filled jar onto the included lid. It's effortless to use and you can easily monitor the syrup levels without disturbing your bees.

5. Little Giant Beehive Entrance Feeder

The extended tray of this entrance feeder makes the food more accessible to the bees inside the hive while also giving them space to come and go.

The quality construction makes the cleaning of base plastic easy to clean, and the glass jar allows the beekeeper to see the syrup levels easily. 

Don’t leave the feeder whole year-round

Keep in mind that bees should be able to take care of themselves most of the time, and adding a bee feeder should only be considered a temporary measure.

As the colony establishes and increases foraging, their dependency on the food you offer goes down. The best option is to make sure that bees have varied and rich sources of resources within their flying distance, so they are not as dependent on the feeder.

When you notice that bees are leaving food in the feeder and the colony is strong and healthy, you can remove the feeder.

How is your experience with using a bee feeder?