Beekeepers use bee syrup feeders as a supplement during winter and when honey stores become low. These containers of sugar water provide essential nutrition to bee colonies.
Bees can access the syrup through tiny holes in the lid; unlike in a jar, the sugar water doesn’t pour out all at once.
How to Make a Simple Boardman Feeder
Sugar syrup is an essential food source for honey bee colonies during fall and winter months to supplement natural pollen sources, but many beekeepers struggle with finding an affordable means of feeding their colonies. A DIY Boardman feeder could be an easy solution.
This type of feeder utilizes a jar with an open top containing feeding holes, inverted over the entrance of the hive and secured in its place. When this jar becomes full, its replacement can easily be added without opening the hive itself.
Some beekeepers opt to add a hood over their jar to protect it from rain and snow, or they use bag feeders. Bag feeders store feed in plastic feed bags that sit above the inner cover of their hive – these make filling quick, are easily monitored from outside, and reduce robbers by placing food closer to their colony.
Beekeepers typically feed their colonies sugar syrup during spring and fall feedings to stimulate colony growth or sustain them through dearth periods or wintering, providing multiple methods that each have their own benefits and drawbacks.
Jar feeders can be effective bee feeders during both warm and cool weather, as sugar syrup doesn’t freeze in much of the Southeast and bees can huddle under it to access their supply. They’re affordable, easy to transport, and clean up nicely – though any jar filled with sugar water could become a target for theft if left exposed; its contents could leak or spill, leading to dangerous spillages that must be managed carefully to keep robbers at bay.
Baggie feeders are another cost-effective solution, sitting directly below a hive’s inner cover and using plastic feed bags to store syrup. Simply gently slit them open for access. In order to prevent robbing, however, an opening between holes in the bag and top bars must be created in order to provide proper access – possibly with a wooden riser that matches its height if necessary.
Beekeepers require a lid to safeguard their syrup from contamination and keep out rain or snow. A tin can is often used as the perfect cover, with an opening for bees to access their treat.
This feeder works well as an entrance reducer and is especially useful when bee colonies require quick feedings. Additionally, it can be placed outside a hive during nectar shortages for quick access by bees.
A baggie feeder is a shallow box designed to sit atop a Langstroth frame and contain syrup in a plastic reservoir. Hardware cloth covers the bottom of the box to allow bees to access their supply without drowning; and then beekeepers place bags of sugar syrup into this reservoir, cutting thin slits in them so bees have access.
There are various types of feeders to consider when feeding bees, each offering unique advantages and disadvantages. Most importantly, however, is understanding why and when feeding should occur.
Entrance feeders are an incredibly convenient bee syrup feeder option, consisting of perforated glass jars that sit near the entrance of hives and allow bees access through holes in their lid. Entrance feeders are straightforward to use, monitor, refill and manage but tend to encourage robbing and may freeze over in cold temperatures.
Frame or division board feeders, consisting of a frame of brood sitting inside a super with an open top that contains sugar water, are simpler to monitor and refill but may leak syrup onto bees in their nests, freezing them over. Pail feeders offer another simple method, typically made of plastic and equipped with mesh feeder holes on their bases to allow bees to access their nectar supplies.