Making a Honey Bee Feeder

making a honey bee feeder

This DIY project is quick, affordable, and fun! It will keep honey bees alive during winter.

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Boardman feeders consist of an inverted container positioned over the hive entrance with a small notch cut into it to allow syrup from within to run freely into its lid and be readily accessible by bees.


1. Sugar syrup

Sugar water is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to feed bees, making it perfect for various feeders. You can make your own sugar syrup by mixing equal parts water and sugar granules in a pan and simmering until all the sugar dissolves, or by adding ingredients such as ginger or cinnamon for an aromatic bite or lemongrass or spearmint to repel mites while cooking.

This feeder hangs directly above the entrance to a beehive and is widely used. However, its hanging location makes it easy for robbers to gain entry, potentially flooding their hive when it rains.

2. Water

Many beekeepers utilize division board feeders. These plastic containers the size of a brood frame are placed directly into the hive in lieu of brooder boxes, offering bees an easier and safer way to feed their colony, with very easy filling process, holding surprising amount of syrup storage capacity, less likely robbing, less hassle in filling, and no extra box needed!

Unfortunately, they also lead to many drowned bees. While most feeders are designed so bees can crawl out and avoid drowning, many still drown because their waggle dance cannot communicate their location within the hive.

3. Beeswax

Bee feeders are containers designed to feed honeybees sugar syrup. Common materials for such feeders include wood or plastic construction with floating materials to prevent drowning of their bees.

Note that colonies should generally be self-sufficient throughout most of the year and only require feeding in emergency situations. Feeders should only be used sparingly as feeding too frequently can result in their colony atrophying and losing its ability to feed itself.

This front entrance feeder is easy to use, providing beekeepers with an effective means to assess resource levels without opening up their hive. However, it may not be ideal during cold seasons.

4. Glue

Feeders can help a struggling or weak colony recover from the stresses of springtime. Feeding can also help attract package colonies into brood production or stimulate honey production.

Boardman feeders are inverted jars placed near the entrance of a beehive for easy access. Although difficult to check the syrup levels and can become vulnerable to theft, these devices are simple and straightforward to set up.

One effective watering station for bees can be created using a clay pot and saucer equipped with floaters such as twigs or wine corks; even an overturned Frisbee could work!

5. Wood

Feeding honey bees comes in many forms, from pail feeders and baggie feeders to frame feeders – each has their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Baggie feeders can be convenient and user-friendly, yet messy due to spilled syrup. Care must be taken when slitting them to allow bees access to their sugar source.

Boardman feeders can be easily constructed out of scrap wood and are an efficient means of overwintering hives. Unfortunately, their proximity to colonies makes them vulnerable to robbing, but placing them above an inner cover may help alleviate this issue by placing food closer to its colony and less appealing to robbers. Many beekeepers also create two jar feeder holders to elevate these feeders off of the ground for easier monitoring from outside of the hive.

6. Lid

Honeybee colonies typically can produce their winter stores without additional feedings, however certain conditions such as extreme cold can necessitate additional supplements being fed to them. When selecting a feeder it should be simple to use and refill and should not leak or encourage robbing of beehives.

Entrance feeders are a popular choice, consisting of a jar that sits outside the hive with a tray that slides into its entrance for quick access to syrup. Another method involves partially filling a container before punching or drilling 6 to 8 small holes into its lid to form an inverted feeder.