All beekeepers are different, which means they all have different ideas about what makes the perfect beehive. Fortunately, there’s plenty of equipment to suit the various needs of the beekeeping community. Honey bee feeders are no exception. No matter what type of hive you have or how you prefer to care for your honey bees, you’re guaranteed to find a bee feeding solution that’s perfect for your colony. Learn more about your options with our guide to the different types of honey bee feeders.
Entrance feeders consist of a feed jar that sits outside the hive and a feeding tray that slides into the hive’s entrance for easy access. Syrup drips from the jar into the tray, where your honey bees can reach it. Because this jar sits outside the hive, you can easily keep an eye on the feed level. This also makes it easy for you to take the feeder apart and clean it. However, the exterior jar is vulnerable to the elements, so your feed can easily freeze and become inaccessible during cold weather.
Baggie feeders feature a simple yet effective design for your beehive. They have two main components: a shallow frame that sits just below the hive’s inner cover and plastic feed bags for your syrup. Once you place the bags in the frame and carefully slit them to allow access to the syrup, your bees can safely drink the syrup. Because baggie feeders work inside the hive, the heat from your colony keeps them from freezing and becoming inaccessible. However, the bags themselves can create a mess if you’re not careful, and you have to replace the bags often.
Of all the different types of honey bee feeders, top feeders are among the strongest and most durable. They hold a large amount of syrup—up to four gallons for a 10-frame hive—and their design makes it easy for you to refill your feed without opening the hive. Experts have created an improved design that includes a steel safety screen to keep your honey bees from crawling inside and drowning within the feeder.
If you want to keep your feeders safe from pests and other bee colonies, pro feeders are the way to go. These feeders sit in the hive in place of one of your normal frames. They hold a decent amount of syrup, and—because you can remove them as easily as any frame—they’re easy to refill. Many beekeepers fear their bees drowning in division board feeders, but the pro feeder includes a cap and ladder system that seals the feeding tubes and minimizes the danger for your colony.
Which type of honey bee feeder works best for you and your colony? Share your tips, ideas, and favorites in the comments below!