I’m sat writing this on the driest morning we have had for a week or so now. I feel like I should start by saying I think we needed the rain, everything was so dry which eventually would have impacted the growth and flowering of summer plants which obviously wouldn’t have been good for bees. So part of me is glad we got a good soaking… However I just wish it could have come with a few breaks rather than a week of solid rain.
This post is going to give you a look at how we feed the bees when they need it! This week with the natural lack of June flowering plants and the rain means the bees couldn’t really go out foraging and has meant the hives have burned through food at an alarming rate. Some strong hives with plenty of food at the start of the week had almost entirely eaten what they had.
There’s a few different types of feeder available some are better suited to certain hives and management practices. I’ll go into the ones I use later on, but first the food. In the same way you will have seen articles on the internet telling you to save an exhausted bee with a teaspoon of sugar water that is essentially what we do but on a bigger scale. I just want to note that some articles suggest leaving a bowl or saucer of sugar water out all the time, please don’t do this! Bees don’t need feeding that often and each hive is different, bees will bring sugar water back and process it into honey meaning the beekeepers honey crop is now adulterated and not true honey.
We make our own syrup (sugar water) up during the season but we are considering buying our winter syrup in as there’s a lot to make! Basically speaking we 3/4 fill a plastic Jerry Can with sugar and then add water until the Can is full. Sometimes it can be difficult to get all the sugar to dissolve but by using warm water and shaking it for quite some time most of it does. So far this week we have fed about 25kg of sugar with more to go today.
The most common feeder I use is called a rapid feeder, these are plastic bowls with a central hole that stick up to the top of the trough. Basically the bees crawl up through a hole in the crown board to access the syrup. The plastic cover stops the bees being able to get completely into the syrup and drowning, these are my favorite feeders. The type I am using is 2.5L which is a little small for winter feeding and means you do have to refill them quite a few times.
The second type of feeder we are using at the moment is a miller feeder. These come as standard on this particular type of hive. The bees crawl up inside the feeder like with the rapid feeder but the two wells on either side can be filled up which goes under a small gap into an area where the bees can get access to it.
There are loads of different types of feeder out there but I don’t think for non-beekeepers it’s the most interesting of topics but I do think its really important that people understand the full picture of beekeeping in the UK and issues we can come across. Next week I will as I think I promised two weeks ago write a blog about extracting and jarring honey!
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