Whether you already have bees or you are thinking about getting them, one important thing to know is you are going to have to feed them. Yep, you heard me correctly, you need to feed your bees. All bees need to be fed sugar water. We give a 2:1 ration (2 parts sugar, 1 part warm water) but several people give a 1:1 ration. Doesn’t matter which you choose but you have to choose. Also know they will go through a LOT of sugar water especially a new hive.
Now there are a variety of different feeders out there. You have internal (the 4 jar feeder) and external (such as the Boardman entrance feeder). Or you can have a different version of an external feeder such as the 5 gallon bucket we use.
Oh my goodness! there is so much controversy over using external feeders vs internal. Some think certain ones promote robbing others thinks it prevents it. It is a mess. I am NOT getting into that!!!! What I will tell you is we have used all versions and the 5 gallon bucket is the only one we have yet to have problems with. Our internal feeders leaked despite our best efforts (moisture in the hive = BAD!) and our entrance feeder caused robbing, so take all that and do with it what you want. I am not telling you what to use just giving you instructions on how to make a 5 gallon bucket feeder 😉
- a bucket (we use a 5 gallon so we don’t have to refill as often) WITH a gasketed
lid and isolated cells below the rim of the bucket. We got ours at Ace Hardware for about $5
- a drill
- 1/16th drill bit
- take the lid off your bucket
- from the inside of your bucket drill a hole in the middle of each cell. DO NOT drill a hole in the cell that has the handle otherwise it will continually leak from that cell.
- make up your sugar water and fill your bucket (again we use a 2:1 ratio. We have raw organic sugar in the picture below that is why is appears amber instead of clear)
- replace lid making sure it is sealed and flip over your bucket. It will be a little messy until the vacuum seal takes effects, but you should be doing this outside so it shouldn’t be an issue.
- place your feeder on a level surface. You will see the cells fill up with sugar water.
- refill bucket as needed
We found this to be an awesome solution for feeding anywhere from 1 to many hives. You won’t have to constantly refill your sugar water and if there is competition for the sugar water it at least won’t be inside your hive (less chance for robbing in our opinions). This has worked awesome for us and has actually stopped our robbing issue. You will most likely have some bees and other visitors that aren’t your bees, but as long as it isn’t inside your hive it shouldn’t be an issue.