Beekeepers and their bees have different preferences and needs, which means the ideal bee feeder can vary from one colony to the next.
Selecting the right bee feeder can be difficult for those who are just beginning their beekeeping journey. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available to suit the needs of each individual beekeeper.
Each bee feeder type has unique advantages and drawbacks, so let’s explore an assortment of the most popular feeders to help you decide which one is perfect for your colony.
Why Use a Bee Feeder?
Using a bee feeder is essential during two specific time periods:
- at the onset of colony establishment, and
- during the cold months of winter
This is when the colony is likeliest in short supply of food, so your bees may starve if not provided with sustenance.
Every beekeeper should monitor for food shortages before implementing a bee feeder.
Bees are mostly self-sufficient, so you likely won’t need to keep a bee feeder on the hive year-round – they function more as a helping hand through difficult times.
Let’s get into the different types of bee feeders to select from.
The first major type of feeder is an entrance feeder, which consists of a jar that rests outside the hive, with a feeding tray used to slide into the hive’s entrance for quick access.
The jar is loaded with syrup, which drips from onto the tray. One benefit of an entrance feeder is that you can easily keep track of the feed level because the jar sits outside the hive. On the other hand, one negative is that the jar is more likely to freeze during cold months if exposed to winter elements.
Top feeders are considered the most well-built type of feeder.
A solid 10-frame hive (like these high-quality designs available from Dadant and Sons) can hold up to three gallons of syrup.
Beekeepers often prefer this style because their design makes for easy refilling without disturbing the hive. A steel safety screen that helps keep your bees from drowning comes with the top feeder.
Baggie feeders consist of two main parts: plastic feed bags to fill with syrup, and a frame that lies just under the hive’s inner cover. With an effortless but effective design, your bees will access syrup easily once you delicately slit the bags.
This type of feeder is best for beekeepers who are on a tight budget, but be careful because the bags need to be replaced often and it can create an unwanted mess.
In-hive feeders (like this one from Dadant and Sons) are the best way to keep your bees safe from other bee colonies and harmful pests. These feeders replace one of your frames and sit inside the hive.
They come in both 8 and 10-frame equipment sizes and can be used with both medium and deep hive bodies. They are easy to refill and can hold up to one gallon of syrup.
To prevent your bees from drowning, the in-hive feeder comes with a unique feeding tray that is easy to clean and maintenance-free.
Contact Dadant & Sons, Your Local Beekeeping Experts, To Provide Your Bees with the Best Bee Feeder!
Regardless of which type of feeder you choose, you’re going to want to fill it with our top-tier bee feed supplies.
At Dadant & Sons, we want you to have the best beekeeping experience possible, so please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding the care and craft of beekeeping – that’s what we are here for!