Front entrance feeders have their place. They are great for nucs and new hives. On the good side, they are inexpensive and you don't need your bee suit to change them. It is the easiest feeder to use, quickest to deploy, easiest to check, can use recycle containers, comes in various sizes and easy to remove when not wanted. With a little work they can be adapted to variuos hive designs such as a top bar hive (the yellow one pictured holds 1/2 gallon).
Many times we hear about robber bees. These are bees from another hive that plan to take one hives food stores for themselves and their hive. They could be your bees. Various "robber screens" can be found in the DIY section or you can buy them.
Here's my list on operating an entrance feeder.
- Make sure all your bees are healthy, the best defense against robbing.
- Do not use them for winter feeding. The bees will not come down to them.
- Bees should have access to water, nectar, pollen. Plenty of water.
- Provide some free fly zone. Make sure your hives entrances do not point at one another.
- When filling entrance feeders, do it away from the hive and watch those drips. Spilled syrup attracts ants and robber bees.
- If the feeder gets mold or is dirty, wash it out.
- Place the feeder to one side of the entrance and place a small block about 2" long on the other side of the feeder. This gives some buffer on the open side.
- Place and refill in late afternoon or evening only. Bees are less active then and less likely to rob. If all hives are starving, feed ONLY AT NIGHT.
- If you have stronger hives, feed them one day before the weaker.
- Check feeders often. A hungry hive can empty a quart feeder in a few hours.
- Use high volume feeders after the nectar flow.
- Overfeeding in spring could induce early swarming or your frames becoming honey bound from the syrup. See the tip below.
- To make the syrup last all day, to ramp up brood rearing or to reduce the chance of robbing simply reduce the number of access holes in the lid. Just a few (2-4) will do the trick. Remember you are supplementing not providing a buffet.
- Using 2:1 (2 parts water and 1 part sugar) will reduce clogging and be more like nectar.
- Use them to deliver plain water, especially during high heat or dry periods.