As an enthusiastic beekeeper, I struggled with being able to properly feed my hives.
I was disappointed with the different feeder styles I purchased.
Unable to find a versatile product with more than one purpose, I decided to design a feeder with features and functions I knew would help me manage my hives more effectively.
After incorporating different ideas and testing various prototype designs, I created the Bizzy Bee Feeder.
Quite simply: I wanted to develop something that would not only benefit my bees, but help backyard beekeepers become more successful at hive management.
Introducing a new queen into your hive is simple. A recessed section on the underside of the B.B.Feeder is specifically designed to allow you to introduce a new queen.
Simply remove the cork on the candy end of the queen cage as you normally would.
Place the queen cage on across the middle frames approximately 3 inches in from the front of the hive.
The screen can either be facing upwards or facing the rear of the hive.
Position the B.B.Feeder over the queen cage and onto the hive body.
Install the bee escape plug closing off the access hole. This reduces any drafts that may come through the bee entrance when introducing in cooler climates.
Install the fluid barrier and the observation screen if not already installed.
Add about ½ gallon of sugar syrup to the fluid chamber.
Check the status of the queen after 3-5 days. Once the queen has been introduced, remove the empty queen cage.
You may now remove the bee entrance plug to allow access and provide additional ventilation.
Monitoring the internal temperature and humidity of your hives is a great way to get a feel of what’s going on inside. This is especially helpful during the winter and early spring, but it is useful anytime. A recessed section on the underside of the B.B.Feeder is specifically designed to install various style temperature and humidity sensors that are on the market today.
Depending on the number of hives you have, how far away your hives are from your home, and the technology used, will help determine which sensors are worth considering for your apiary.
There are sensors on the market specifically designed for hive monitoring, and other sensors which also work well in a hive. (in my opinion)
If you have 1-3 hives, and your hives are within 150 feet of your house, there are 2 very inexpensive sensors that work well and allow you to monitor from within your house. If your house is out of that range, then you can still use the sensors, but you will have to protect the receivers from the elements. I have used plastic “locking” sandwich containers with great success. ACCURITE makes sensors with 3 different channels (hence the “1-3 hives”) which can be purchased on line, at Lowes, Home Depot or other big box stores.
If you really like to monitor the weather, you can go for a full weather station and have up to 5 sensors from ACCURITE. Check the ACCURITE link but do online comparison shopping, as the prices of the weather stations vary considerably. I personally use the ACCURITE 5 in 1 weather station and love it. I use it with MyACURITE and the IPhone app to monitor the weather station from anywhere. I had used it to monitor 5 hives, but have since switched to SensorPush because my apiary has grown.
If your hives are remote or you have a lot of hives, then you may want to consider something that runs on Bluetooth.
The BroodMinder units are very nice and do not require the special cutout. The feeder design ensures the BroodMinder sensor does not block the the liquid feed access chamber. For more information on the BroodMinder, please click on the link.
I use mostly Sensor Push, but I also have a BroodMinder. Sensor Push is a small Bluetooth device. Sensor Push also make a WiFi-hub. If the WiFi hub is within range of your hives, then the data is available via the app remotely. If not, then you can simply be near your hives and they will sync the data with the app for viewing.
I wanted to make the feeder was capable of supporting approximately 50 pounds of downward pressure. (in case someone used a couple of cinder blocks on top of the hive) Overkill you say – perhaps, but I would rather over engineer than not.
The 4 outside feet serve 2 purposes.
So, what about the other feet?
The space on the underside allows for movement of the bees between the top of the frames and the feeder. An inner cover is not used when using the feeder.
For new package installs or winter preparation, the front, rear and side gaps provide space for pollen patties, sugar patties, or fondant.
Sugar syrup and the bees are separated by a plastic barrier which is BPA safe, cold temperate safe (subzero) and made in the US. The barrier has holes to allow moisture to escape. The tight bee space tolerances between the polystyrene and the plastic barrier reduce bee from drownings and reduce comb construction between the plastic barrier and the walls. The Fluid chamber is tapered towards the center using gravity to ensure all the liquid flows to the center. The tight tolerances on the bottom of the chamber help to prevent bees from accidentally entering the fluid chamber when it is empty.
There is a maximum fill line along the top of the fluid chamber. Do not fill past that line.
NOTE: Bees may tend to build comb inside the round fluid chamber access. Simply scrape it out. I have not seen them completely close it off, but bees will do what bees will do. All my bees tend to like hanging out in the chamber even if there is no sugar syrup in the chamber.
If the plastic barrier gets “stuck” and you attempt to remove it but can’t, then try twisting the plastic barrier. That usually does the trick, but if that does not work, warm water will take care of it.
The bees may want to propilize the ventilation holes in the plastic barrier if there is no sugar syrup. Use a small nail to reopen them, especially before winter.
A bee entrance is located in the front of the B.B.Feeder. A bee entrance “diverter” is included. The diverter can be installed to:
1. Partially close the bee entrance by inserting the diverter with the square acrylic facing towards the front of the hive (for queen introduction or new package installation)
2. Open the bee entrance by inserting the diverter with the square acrylic facing towards the back of the hive (allows bee access to the outside from within the hive)
a. This prevents access to the dry feed chamber directly from the outside. Which means bees from the outside would first have to go down into the hive and then up into the dry feed chamber.
3. Remove the diverter completely and allow bees to freely move about the dry feed chamber, outside and down into the hive.
a. Depending on your climate, removal of the door during the winter should be considered to allow moisture to escape.
b. To allow for more ventilation, position the diverter with the square plexiglass on the top edge of the feeder and the rectangular portion on the outside front. The thickness of the square plexiglass creates a gap between the feeder and the outer cover to allow for more ventilation. (more handy than a stick)
The drive feed chamber is accessed from the underside of the feeder and can be used for pollen, pollen substitute, dry feed supplement or granulated sugar. NOTE: When the chamber is empty, the bees tend to use it as a “hang out”.
This chamber is also helpful on those occasional warm days during the winter when the bees may be able to move around, yet it may be too cold to open your hive to feed them. If you are concerned about their food supply, you can add granulated sugar, sugar chunks or fondant to this area. HOWEVER, If it is too cold and the bees will not go up into the dry feed chamber to access the emergency food supply.
The cover is ventilated to allow moisture to escape. Bees will tend to propolize many of the ventilation holes in the dry feed cover. It’s ok if they block off a lot of the vent holes, just make sure some remain open for ventilation.
With the dry feed chamber cover installed and the liquid barrier installed, you can observe your bees at work when removing the outer cover. It’s a great way to see at a glance how your feeding is going.
The simple answer – ants. The ventilation slots in the feeder are small enough to keep bees out, but not ants. The sealing tape and the ventilation tape are installed simply to reduce the number of ants from getting into your sugar syrup.
If the plastic barrier gets stuck from the sugar syrup or crystallization and you are trying to remove it, try twisting it. If that does not work, some warm water usually does the trick. Clean the barrier by hand with warm water. Do not put in the dishwasher. The feeder can be washed with warm water. Be careful around the vent tape on either side of the dry feed chamber and the sealing tape along the top edge.
Bees will do what bees will do. Bees will propolize the bottom of the feeder to the top of your hive body. Use your hive tool on one of the back corners to pry the feeder loose. Yes, this may create an indentation in the feeder, but it will not affect the functionality.
Your bees will fill several of the holes in the dry feed chamber cover with propolis. There are sufficient holes in the cover to allow for ventilation, but if they seal off all the holes, use a small nail to remove the propolis to allow for ventilation.