When natural sources of feeding are not available for the honeybees, the honey bee feeders help the beekeepers provide the honey bees appropriate nutrition they need to produce honey.
There are various types of honeybee feeders around, each with its own perks and some drawbacks.
Beekeepers, too, become quite opinionated on the subject, depending on the ones that have worked for them, the longest time.
I got similar kind of responses about these feeders from the different hobbyists I know, as each one of them uses a different one.
However, I went out and tried all of them, and then, decided later on which one worked the best for me.
Thus, to make the choice of a honey bee feeder easier for you, I’ve listed down all the ones I’ve used, along with their pros and cons. I’ll also tell you about my most favorite one of all and the reason for that.
Open air feeders
An open air feeder is constructed in the open, and is easily accessible to anyone. But, this property makes it the worst of all as not only does it attract bees but also wasps, birds, raccoons, and many more.
The feeder is also a carrier of diseases as it is shared amongst them. Apart from that, the bees also end up fighting, thus, weakening the hives.
The entrance feeders, as their name, are fit at the entrance of any hive.
A fitting tray is inserted into the hive and the inverted syrup container is fixed onto the tray outside the hive.
The feeder makes it easier for the bees to feed upon and is safer in comparison to the open air feeder.
The container on the outside also makes it easier to watch out when it needs to be refilled.
However, being too close to the hive, it becomes hard to defend the food against getting stolen.
They may also freeze during the winters, or bees may not be able to get to the feeder at all.
Division Board feeders
The division board frames are the same size as a brood frame and are inserted into the bee hives in place of one of the frames.
The feeders come in two types, one in black and the other in yellow. The feeders are highly functional as they’re completely inside the hives, thus reducing the chances of robbing.
They’re also very easy to fill and hold a lot of amount in them. But despite of the space given to the bees to crawl out, many of them still drown out.
Apart from that, if the feeder ever goes empty, it is highly plausible that bees may build a comb inside or propolize the floats to the sides or the bottoms of the container.
The black division board feeder faces an issue of becoming wide every time you fill it up, making it difficult for the other feeders to move whereas the yellow ones have leakage issues.
Internal hive-top feeders
These feeders are designed to fit on the top of the brood boxes, beneath the cover. They’re easy to fill and can hold a lot of syrup in them at once.
They’re also crafted to keep the bees from drowning and thus, are very useful. But, the feeder becomes really heavy and doesn’t allow for much movement of the same when filled with syrup.
It is also not immune to dead bees and therefore, you might see a few of them time and again. They can also be difficult to clean as the syrup may keep falling out of it at times. A mold inhibitor like an essential oil can be used in such cases to wear off the stickiness.
External hive-top feeders
Able to hold large amount of syrup, the external hive-top feeders are big in size and sit inverted on top of the container.
They can be left either uncovered or covered, however, the latter is a preferred option. These feeders do not let the syrup mold, as the feeder isn’t exposed to any kind of air.
The only negative that stands in its way is that the feeders are extremely heavy and are better used in plastic form than in glass form. Their ability to hold a lot of syrup makes them a perfect choice for commercial beekeepers.
A baggie feeder involves a plastic zipper bag filled with syrup. The bag is then, cut with a knife and is allowed by the bees to run.
Not only is it easier for the visitors, it also saves up a lot of time. Their only drawback is that once opened, they can’t be moved anywhere else as the bag has opened. The bags are also expensive and not environment-friendly.
Out of all, the entrance feeder is your best choice in case you are hobbyist. However, external hive-top feeders are most suited for the professional beekeepers only.