Homemade Hive Top Feeders

Homemade hive top feeders can be an economical and efficient solution for providing new colonies that have recently been installed as packages with food. Not only are these homemade feeders cost-effective and user friendly; but they may not prevent drowning bee deaths as effectively as expected.

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Fill a quart- or gallon-sized Zip-lock style freezer bag with sugar syrup, creating a 3-inch slit in its lid to allow bees access.


Mason jars

Beekeepers looking for an economical feeder solution should consider creating a mason jar bee feeder as an easy and cost-effective option for their hives. It uses two sections of galvanized wire mesh that act both as ladders for bees to climb internally as well as external barriers preventing access to most of the syrup box. Assembly requires only hammer and nail.

To create a mason jar feeder, all it takes is some basic tools like hammers and nails to punch small holes in its lid with small nails. Once installed above your entrance hole in your inner cover, this simple, effective feeder allows bees to access sugar water without significant leakage or spoilage, less likely triggering robbing or drowning, easy refilling when necessary – an alternative to division board feeders which may prove challenging to manage.

Plastic tubs

Some bee keepers opt for plastic tubs as hive top feeders because they’re inexpensive, easy to use, hold a lot of sugar syrup and do not leak – an important feature as leaking feeders encourage robbing as they expose the entire hive to weather and intruders. Furthermore, bees can access sugar syrup from multiple sides of their hive rather than having to open their entire home just to refuel such feeders such as division board feeders.

Some hive top feeders come in the size of a Langstroth frame, featuring a lid that sits securely within the bottom board and a floating beeresting area for bees to rest on. Beekeepers find these types of feeders convenient because it doesn’t require opening the hive in order to refill or prevent bees from drowning in syrup; it also protects them from cold weather or heavy rainfall; unfortunately it does not protect their hives against cold temperatures or intense rainfalls.

Zip-lock bags

A gallon zip top freezer bag makes an effective and cost-effective feeder, enabling sugar water to be added just like with other feeders. Making one is inexpensive and requires only basic equipment – most beekeepers have at least one in their toolkit already! These bags can also be used to feed nucs and packages.

Division board feeders are another DIY hive top feeder option, typically made of plastic and placed inside the hive instead of frames. Although less likely to induce robbing than open feeders and easily refillable, division board feeders still present issues – many leak and create pools of syrup which cause bees to drown in them.

An alternative solution is a jar bee feeder, a straightforward approach which doesn’t require special tools or assembly. Simply punch holes in the lid of a jar’s lid – puncturing only at its base portion – allowing small amounts of syrup to escape while also minimizing wastage.

Frame feeders

Frame feeders are an effective way of providing bees with easy access to syrup throughout the year. By taking up one of the frames in a Langstroth hive and filling it up to three quarts at once with syrup, a frame feeder can ensure a constant source of nourishment without fear of bee drowning or being eaten up too quickly by bees. Furthermore, their construction is straightforward and seasonally or all year-long use can be easily maintained.

To build a frame feeder, cut two wooden frames out of 1x 8 lumber, preferably 1 x 8. This size is used by beekeepers when building their hives; however, stores may sell different dimensions; to be on the safe side, consult local beekeepers about accurate dimensions before purchasing from stores. You will also require window screen, glue, wood screws and bee food (boil the sugar water before giving to bees so as to kill any microorganisms and ensure longer lasting syrup without fermentation).