There are various types of bee feeders, from entrance feeders to pro feeders; all have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Entrance feeders consist of an inverted syrup jar and feeding tray designed to fit easily into the entrance of your hive for easy access. They’re easily monitored, causing no disruption when refilling, checking or checking again.
Frame feeders (sometimes referred to as division board feeders) are one of the most widely used bee feeders, comprising of plastic containers measuring half a full Langstroth frame that sit inside a beehive and take the place of one of its frames. Equipped with lid and inner ladders to reduce drowning of bees in syrup, frame feeders are easy to use, monitor, refill and replenish but are prone to dripping in cold weather which could potentially trap and kill bees beneath it dripping through.
Internal Hive-top Feeders, similar to frame feeders, but with an enclosed cap designed to protect entrance openings in inner covers. Used both emergency feedings and regular winter feedings. Although their capacity may be smaller than the frame feeder, these models provide greater security against invasion by preventing robber bees from accessing feed supplies.
Entrance feeders consist of a tray that slides into the hive entrance with an inverted syrup container on top. They’re popular because they fit neatly inside, making it easier to assess how much syrup is left and when to refill it. Unfortunately, their outer jar can freeze during winter, drawing attention from robbers since food is placed right at the entrance, where defense might not be effective enough.
Advantages to these feeders include not having to open your hive for refilling them – which can make filling them much simpler during winter when bees are slower in moving around – while downsides include more frequent inspections in order to monitor sugar consumption and bee health, which may make their use difficult for some beekeepers if it disrupts regular inspection intervals in early season hives, and decreased capacity compared with frame feeders.
Internal Hive-Top Feeders
As their name suggests, these feeders fit inside of a beehive’s inner cover and are great for feeding during dearths or other periods with no nectar flows, as they keep food secure within the hive and away from potential theft or weather conditions.
Feeders are also simple to refill and monitor from outside the hive, while some beekeepers add an entrance reducer next to it to help defend against robbers. Depending on their style, feeders can be filled with anything from mason jars or plastic pails.
Beekeepers typically protect the feeder with an empty hive box to shield it from elements and robbers, though this makes checking sugar levels harder as you will have to remove an extra box – although still less intrusive than an entrance feeder and potentially useful as it won’t expose syrup directly to sunlight.
External Hive-Top Feeders
These feeders sit atop the hive to protect it from sun exposure and robber bees, and can hold large volumes of syrup. Beekeepers with multiple hives often prefer them; however, these types of feeders can be hard to keep clean, with mold often taking hold over time – however Honey Bee Healthy helps decrease this mold growth!
Entrance feeders, commonly referred to as boardman feeders, employ mason jars with feed in them that are placed near the entrance of a hive. Refilling and monitoring these feeders are simple; refilling can even be done without opening your hive! However, entrance reducers placed beside entrance feeders can help stop robber bees from accessing sugar directly; these should only be used during emergency situations or as temporary supports during hard winter seasons.