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April 20, 2009

Zip Lock bag or baggie bee feeding

So you read or heard about using zip lock style bags for feeding your bees.  By now you also have found out that additional information on the subject is hard to come by.  Well here are some tips and tricks that can make it easier, prevent some problems and help you.

You will need some type of spacer to raise the lid (cover) to give you the space needed to place the baggie on the top of the frames in most hive designs.  If you are going to the trouble of making a spacer, consider making it do double duty.  Why not build an Imire shim and use it? How about a spacer with a entrance?  Get the idea? Plans are available in the DIY section.

Here's the tip list I promised:

  1. Use quality bags.  Freezer bags have thicker plastic. Cheap bags have cheap seals and will leak many times.
  2. Remove all the air you can before sealing the bag.
  3. Only make one or two razor slots about 3 inches or LESS long, small bags use smaller cuts.
  4. Use a new sharp razor.  Single edge or a utility knife.
  5. Don't make the slots near the edge.
  6. Place baggies with the seal end toward the side of the box.  If they open, the syrup will run down the side and not the core of the hive.
  7. Use large bags or multiple bags.  This reduces how many times you have to come back and open the hive.
  8. Don't reuse the bags.  Dried syrup in the seal will cause them to leak.
  9. Have extra bags with you when placing in the hive.  If you have a leaker or puncture the baggie you can save the syrup and your time.
  10. Make sure your spacer is tall enough.  You need some bee space on top of the bag.  Place a baggie on a counter top with your spacer and check you have the room.
  11. Smoke the bees off the frames as you lay the bag down.  Replace new bags quickly to avoid the bees being squashed.
  12. Don't forget to cut the slits in the bags.  Cut slots at the hive not before.
  13. If you use medicated syrups, a drop of food coloring will help you identify the mix.
  14. Place pollen patties or grease patties in at the same time and save your time.
  15. Lay bags flat before placing on hive to test the seal.
  16. Keep records so you can see how long each size of bag lasts.

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