Beehive entrance feeders provide a simple feeding solution, suitable for Langstroth or Warre beehives, at a minimal cost and easy refill. While inexpensive, these devices must be placed securely. Also, their refill needs to be performed frequently.
External hive-top feeders
These feeders fit easily into the gap at the hive entrance and make use easy for beekeepers. They allow beekeepers to monitor feed level without opening their hives and are relatively inexpensive; however, they may leak more frequently than other types of feeders, necessitating frequent replacement.
These hive top feeders perform best in warm temperatures but may become problematic during cold snaps. Their components consist of a feeder tray which slides into the entrance opening, and an inverted jar which stores sugar syrup. Though easy to use, their position at the entrance could cause them to freeze in low temperatures, potentially inducing robbing as they freeze over.
These feeders may be easier to use than division board feeders but more difficult to monitor. Refilling can require fully disassembling from the hive, leading to heat loss in the form of chilling bees and energy waste from removed heat source; additionaly, these feeders may crack and release sugar water into the hive, killing all bees present.
Internal top feeders
These feeders fit on top of a hive body and can be used for fall feeding and winter clustering. Filling is fast and with no risk of robbing since no cracks need to be broken open for filling purposes.
Designs vary, but typically consist of shallow boxes equipped with a reservoir for syrup storage and hardware cloth allowing access from below while simultaneously protecting bees from drowning. Some contain floats or rough sides to assist bees if they cannot make their way down a ladder to exit their box.
This feeder is easy to maintain and does not require opening the hive in order to refill, making it the optimal solution for cold climates. Inspections must take place prior to refilling time in order to detect robbery and ensure an inner cover in good condition is used as part of this option. However, its higher cost makes this type of feeder impractical for use elsewhere.
Baggie feeders consist of a shallow frame positioned just beneath the inner cover and plastic feed bags filled with sugar syrup. Both components include several holes for bees to access the syrup; plus the bag itself features slits cut into it so they can access it more easily. This easy and efficient design provides convenient feeding.
There are various styles of bee feeders, and many beekeepers build their own using recycled containers with push-down lids and an old drill or punch to drill 6-8 very small holes into their lids using drill or punch tools. Most lids also include bee-proof screening so robbers cannot gain direct access to syrup supplies.
Some versions of these feeders feature screens designed to prevent bees from accessing them freely, thus decreasing their risk of drowning and lasting longer through cold temperatures without disrupting colony colonies. Refills can even be accomplished without disturbing their ecosystem.
A frame feeder is a plastic trough that sits atop of the hive and holds large quantities of syrup for bees to reach easily, helping prevent robbing in cold weather conditions and minimising robbing altogether. Easy to fill via sliding the super above over and then dropping in place – original wood versions exist but most modern plastic varieties feature textured inner walls to increase grip for traction; adding a #8 hardware cloth ladder will reduce drowning as well as prevent future comb formation in its interior walls!
Beginner beekeepers often opt for these beehive boxes because they’re inexpensive and straightforward to use. But they come with certain drawbacks: firstly they may cause robbing; they are heavy; mold or dripage might occur and be difficult to clear out; they also are vulnerable to wind and animal interference and any additional steps might cause drowning risks; some beekeepers add a float or ladder in an effort to decrease drowning, but some don’t see this risk worth taking.