Feeding honey bees comes in various forms; one popular method involves hanging a jar of syrup on the front of the hive for them to consume. Although this technique may be easier for beekeepers to utilize, if done incorrectly it could cause problems for their colony.
An entrance feeder provides another solution, featuring a jar outside of the hive with access to a feeding tray for bees to access. This type of feeder makes resource monitoring more straightforward as bees can access resources without opening their hive.
Mason jars have become one of the most iconic product designs ever. Alongside iconic products like Swingline staplers, Polaroid cameras, Converse sneakers and Swiss Army knives – Mason jars remain timeless icons in everyday life and serve as essential household tools for food preservation, DIY projects and even flower vases.
Mason jars can also be repurposed into honey bee feeders. This method is especially popular among amateur beekeepers and requires minimal equipment. Simply hot glue a 6-foot piece of twine onto the mason jar’s top lid before setting this method into motion.
Once your twine is securely in place, place the jar upside-down on a piece of plywood in your apiary. Alternatively, you could use a boardman feeder base to mount it; this allows open feeding outside or within an empty hive body inside, and provides bees with safest possible feeding – they cannot drown inside!
Boardman feeder bases
A boardman feeder fits tightly into your hive’s entrance and holds any inverted glass jar you prefer, such as our mayo jar (PM0102) or five pound round jar (PM10103). It allows you to monitor sugar water levels without opening up your hive, making refilling effortless! These feeders work best during late spring, summer, and early fall months.
Frame feeders provide another option. Built directly into the hive near the broodnest, these are easy to monitor and use – although accessing them may require taking the extra step of removing frames from inside the hive, encouraging robbing attempts; additionally they don’t hold as much syrup compared to other feeders.
Other types of hive feeders include entrance feeders, division board feeders and pail feeders. Entrance feeders are easy to use and monitor; however they should not be used during cold weather due to potential freezing issues; they may also encourage robbing as bees must leave their cluster to reach it in order to get there.
Division board feeders
Division board feeders, as their name suggests, sit within the hive to prevent robbers from entering. Available in various sizes to fit various equipment pieces and featuring textured sides so that bees can grip onto them to climb in and out easily, these feeders are frequently utilized when temperatures are cold or there is insufficient natural food sources available to them.
Feeders consist of a jar that contains sugar syrup and an entrance tray – bees access it through an opening in front of their hive through which bees access the jar through a hole – these feeders can easily be restocked without disrupting their colony’s ecosystem.
As part of your beekeeping plans, it is vitally important that any feeder you use does not leak or fill too rapidly with syrup. Leakage or overfill can encourage robbing behavior which may harm smaller colonies and should also be placed away from the front of the hive in order to deter potential robbers.
Zipper bag feeders
As opposed to removing frames from their hive in order to fill and inspect a Boardman feeder, this feeder is situated near its entrance for easier bee access. Unfortunately, however, cold temperatures could render this form of feeding impractical since syrup could freeze solidified and become breeding grounds for robber bees.
Beekeepers prefer zipper bag feeders as hanging honey bee feeders, since these food-grade zip-top bags filled three-quarters of the way with feed are easily placed over their hives and accessible. A razor blade should then be used to cut two or three slits in them parallel with their entrance so bees can quickly find these pockets of food and line up to consume them quickly and conveniently. Plus, these feeders don’t interfere with inspections, are easy to clean, less expensive than jar feeders etc.