Monday, May 26, 2014

Sam Was Right

A couple of months ago, I read about rapid feeders on Beekeeper Linda's blog, and they seemed like a safe, easy way to feed bees. They seem to be quite common in Europe but nearly impossible to find on this side of The Pond. Eventually, I found a gig in Canada that carries them and ordered two. (BTW, the shipping was more than the feeders. Yikes!)

Rapid feeders are meant to be used in Langs, though, so I had to rig a way to place them in my hives. First, I cut a hole into a board. Then I pounded in some of these funny looking nails or staples.

The hole doesn't really need to be this large.
For this feeder, I repurposed a failed feeder I made last summer,
so the hole was already there.

As you can see, the nails/staples hold the feeder in place, and the feeder sits on top of the top bars. With this type of feeder, it's really hard to drown bees, and I had high hopes for it.

I mentioned my feeder setup to beekeeper extraordinaire Sam Comfort when I was picking up my packages on Saturday. He's too nice to say anything discouraging, but I could tell from the expression on his face and the diplomatic answer he gave that he didn't think it was going to work. 

Worried by Sam's lack of enthusiasm, I set the feeders up anyway when I installed the packages. However, I put some capped honeycomb behind the divider as well. 

On Saturday, I noticed that one hive had a few bees in the feeder, but the other hive didn't have any bees in the feeder at all. Yesterday, neither hive had bees in the feeder (at least not while I was checking.) Again, this morning, there were no bees in the feeder. However, I checked the comb behind the dividers, and in both hives, they had been completely cleaned out. I promptly added jar feeders like Sam had originally suggested. I'm not too proud to admit that he was right.

As disappointed as I am to discover that the rapid feeders are a bust, I'm going to keep them because I'm considering trying a Warre next year. Given the vertical design of that hive, I have my fingers crossed that the feeders will work better.

In any case, I consider this write up a public service announcement. In case you're considering investing in rapid feeders for your TBH, you have now been warned. :)


  1. It has worked a treat for me. There are a few things you need to remember though. It should be installed against the follower board with an empty bar between the feeder and the next comb. You should put a small dish or something directly under the feeder to catch any drips and reduce robbing. Dribble some syrup down the spout so they can find it. Remember if all else fails you can still use them in the end the same as you would a contact feeder.

    1. When I installed the package, I put the feeder up against the follower bar with 3 empty bars between the bar w/ queen cage and feeder. Maybe that was too much space? I tried adding anise oil to entice them up, but I didn't dribble syrup down the spout. Maybe I'll do that this morning and see if it makes a difference. Thanks!

  2. I put the rapid feeder at the back of the hive with a couple of shims under it so the bees can get under it and it has worked great. I also added some peppermint oil, which they seem to love.

    1. You know, I tried that too, but no takers. I figured it was just that they had a really strong flow going on, so I tried it again couple of weeks ago. Still no takers. I'm giving up until next spring when I try to put together a nuc.


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