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Feeding Bees

Types of Feeders

There are different types of feeders you can use with a crownboard (some may need to be adapted depending on feeder) and Eke (an Eke is a small super which sits on the top of the hive, just beneath the roof, and allows space to add a feeder).  An Eke may be bought from a supplier, but it can also be made if you take the dimensions of a brood box and halve it (this is approximate).

English Feeder

These will take a large quantity of syrup and are great for “June Gap”.

An English Feeder should not be used in the Winter months as it takes up a lot of space in the hive which can cause the hive to be cooler in winter.  There are alternatives for Winter feeding which will be covered shortly.

Rapid feeder

Ideal for Autumn but not for Winter.  The bees come up from the hive, through the hole in the middle of the feeder.  The bees should then travel up from the centre and over a rim and head toward the syrup.  

Tip: It is worth remembering that when you fill the feeder, it is best to hold the clear plastic (hole) cover down in the middle of the feeder, when adding feed.  If the hole cover is not held down, and a large amount of feed is poured in at once, it could cause the cover to raise up hence causing some bees to drown.  

Miller feeder

“M” (see Learner Beekeeper diary) uses a Miller feeder and these are great. “M”s are wooden, but the same concept applies.  Bees enter the feeder through a gap in the middle, then up and over the ridges and down to the feed.  Click here for a plan (supplied by on how to make a traditional wooden Miller feeder.

I am not sure you can buy them to as good a standard as “M”’s wooden feeders, but there are some plastic feeders which can replicate the Miller feeders, see examples below:

As a Learner Beekeeper, I have used all the above feeders, including “M”’s old Miller feeders and I have not seen a single bee drown in my first year of beekeeping.

Frame feeder

These frames are similar to a normal frame, but hollow inside. There is a piece of wood (or other object) that is supposed to float on top so that the bees can sit on it and feed. For some reason, local beekeepers have found that some bees have drowned using this type of feeder.

These can usually be found in Nuc boxes if you order a colony of bees.  

Summer & Autumn Feeding

Calendar / The Beekeeping Year / The Honeybee  /  Learner Diary

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These are gaps where the bees come up from the hive and walk over the ledge to the feeder

This is where the feed goes

Nuc Feeders

The Orange feeder below, is a rapid feeder but is small enough to fit into a NUC hive.

Some beekeepers also use upturned plastic pots (usually found at home for coleslaw, dips, etc.).  Small holes can be put into the lid and when turned upside down, the syrup should not drip, or drip slowly.

(Sharp eyed readers may notice the Onion and Garlic label - I did wash the carton thoroughly, not sure if bees like garlic…)