Sunday, July 24, 2011

Trying out a Multi-Feeder

I entered the raffle at the Brooklyn Beekeepers Club Annual Honey Tasting & Open Bar last fall and won a hive top Multi-Feeder for 10 frame hives.

Last Sunday I went out to check on my bees and noticed that the Styrofoam hive top feeder that I usually use was empty AND had spots of mold on the bottom and sides of the feed tank.

The forage situation has not been good this summer and the newly hived swarm did not have a lot of pollen stored away. I had picked up a small baggie of pollen substitute from Liane who is the organizer of NYC Beekeeping and, since the bees needed both sugar water and pollen substitute, I decided to give the Multi-Feeder a try. 

I quickly made up a 5-pound bag of sugar into 1 to 1 sugar water using the method I described in my posting titled the Koan of Ones.

Although the Multi-Feeder was designed for 10-frame hives, I discovered that by centering it evenly on the top of the brood box, I could make it fit without exposing any cracks to let bees directly into the feeder from the outside of the hive.

This is a picture of the Multi-feeder after I placed it on the hive, but before adding any pollen substitute or sugar water.

The left side of the tank has it's entry gates in the high position to allow the bees enough room to enter the surface of the tank where the pollen substitute will be placed.
The entry gates on the right side were left in the low position to keep the bees from entering the tank when it is filled with liquid.

I poured the 1-to-1 sugar water into the right side and put a little pollen into the left side in front of each entry gate to see how the bees would react to it, as shown in the picture below.

After putting the 10 frame foam outer cover on top of the feeder and strapping it down, I left the bees alone for a week.

One week later this is what I found when I took the outer cover off and this is what I saw.

The sugar water had been completely consumed and the pollen substitute in front of one of the gates was completely consumed.

I made up another 5-pound batch of 1-to-1 sugar water and reloaded the tank. this time I put a complete line of pollen substitute connecting the two gates on the left side tank. 

Lessons Learned

There was more sugar water made from the 5-pound bag than would fit into one side of the multi-feeder so I had a little left over in a two liter bottle.  I went back to the hive the next day and found that the liquid level was down about half an inch so the bees must have been really sucking it up.  

I added the remainder of the sugar water and reminded myself to pick up another 5-pound bag of sugar 
and assemble some more wax-foundation frames so I'll have the third 8-frame medium brood chamber ready when it's needed.

While I was loading the muli-feeder, I also found quite a few ants so I'm going to have to do something to deal with them. Perhaps I'll try using cinnamon around the hive stand legs like I've seen mentioned on the web.