Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hive Update (And a Note About Feeders)

I wanted to write a bit about a hive feeder that we've been using since the fall feeding season. It's the BeeMax® Polystyrene Hive Top Feeder from Better Bee (above). We've gone through a number of feeders at this point, including homemade Nancy's yogurt container feeders and this awful brown plastic version:

Our problem with the homemade feeders was that they required frequent fillings and a moderately large hive disturbance. They were a pain to change out. 

The brown plastic feeder was flimsy and resulted in massive numbers of bee deaths. I can't tell you how many times we've tried to repair and modify that damn thing. It's worthless. 

The BeeMax Polystyrene feeder, on the other hand, is lightweight, easy to fill, and results in virtually no bee deaths. It also has an enormous reservoir so refillings are infrequent. 

Bees access the syrup via a narrow passage on one end. A plastic cover over the access port does not allow them to directly encounter the reservoir, eliminating virtually all drowning incidents. 
Our only beef with this feeder is that is occasionally prone to gathering mold. A quick wash with a bleach solution has so far been sufficient in solving that problem but it'll be interesting to see how well it ages.

On a side note, we also highly recommend ordering the Better Bee catalog. Besides an enormous selection of beekeeping gadgets, they also have exceptionally useful hints and tips scattered throughout the catalog. We went a bit crazy this year and will have to show you a few of our splurges when they arrive. A word of caution: I really would order the catalog; their online site stinks but is bearable if you have already identified your items ahead of time in the paper catalog.