Thursday, October 10, 2013

Newest Feeder Experiment

If you've been following along, you know that I've played with a few feeder designs. Some of them include a bucket feeder (below, white container), some are just inverted jars with holes poked in the lids.

Of all the feeders I've tried thus far, the bucket feeder
has been the most popular, and it doesn't kill any bees.
All the others have had minor to major casualties.

I also tried a jar filled with grass/plant stalks like some people I saw on YouTube. I didn't like that at all. Drowned way too many bees for my liking.

I filled the jar with lemongrass and lavender.
It was like an irresistible siren call
drawing the bees to their sweet, sweet deaths.

Here is my newest experiment. I made a hole into a piece of wood that would accommodate a canning jar. I didn't have a hole cutter that big, so I used a drill to make holes around the edge of the circle. Then I pounded the wood out with a hammer and sanded. Next I stapled #8 hardware cloth onto the underside of the board.

#8 Hardware cloth is really hard to find. I eventually found it on Amazon.
The downside is that you have to buy a huge roll.
But I plan to use the rest of it building nucs.

Originally, I had planned for three jars (a quart jar in the center, and two pints alongside). In the end, though, I made only one hole because I felt that the wood might not be able to stand up to all the hammering.

The feeder took up four bars in the hive, but I have plenty of space right now, so that's not a big deal. An inverted quart jar of syrup sits in the hole. The jar has a plastic lid drilled full of tiny holes to let the syrup out. You can get plastic lids for canning jars in the canning section of a store like Walmart or your grocery store. I like the plastic lids because you don't have to mess around with tops and bands, and they don't rust. 

The screen holds up the jar; it also prevents bees from flying out, which makes replacing the jar very simple. One of the problems I had with using inverted jars that were raised by sticks or pieces of wood (to give the bees access to the drip holes), is that the bees were everywhere when I tried to replace the jar. It was tough not to squash them or drip all over them.

The gabled roof of the hive fits perfectly over the jar, so it's protected from the elements.

I still have to trim the ends of the feeder board, but it works.
The weather has been super chilly (mid-30's to low 40's at night, 60's during the day), so I'm not yet sure how well this feeder will work. Even the bucket feeder, which is usually swarmed with bees, had only a handful of girls on it, so it could be that they're just not interested in foraging much right now. However, I peeked through the observation window yesterday, and noticed that the new feeder had some takers. We shall see.

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