Sunday, June 21, 2009

My experience with Ziploc baggie feeders...

While some new furniture was being delivered to my house, and there were delivery guys running up and down the steps, I decided it was a great time to go take a look at my hive since I added the new frames of brood from Busy Bee Apiaries. The weather was sunny and 95 degrees (and the humidity...sheesh) - but I decided I'd rather do that than listen to feet trample up and down the steps carrying heavy pieces of furniture.

When I go out the back door to check my hive, I noticed a frenzy of bee activity at the entrance. The bottom board was covered with bees, which was great, but then I noticed something dripping out of the corner of the bottom board. It was dripping slowly, and whatever it was, the bees liked it.

It was sugar syrup. Apparently there was a problem with the Ziploc baggie feeder I installed yesterday. It was dripping out of the hive and on the ground. And I just knew it was going to attract every bee for miles.

I had to act fast. I suited up and got my smoker and went out armed with a new feeder I made on my own. I also carried along a bucket to dump the faulty baggie feeder inside. As soon as I opened the hive, there it was, the Ziploc bag was leaking at the seal and dripping inside the hive and it was leaking out of the front. I did everything like I was supposed to with the Ziploc baggie feeder; I put a couple of quarts of syrup in the bag, put it in the hive, let it settle, then made small holes in the top. Little did I expect that the seal would leak. Maybe it was because of the heat, I don't know, but the bees were having a field day with all that free access to the syrup.

I took the baggie out and dumped it in a bucket and then in my garbage can. When I got back to the hive, I installed my own device, an inverted feeder that I made from a two-quart plastic container that once held Archer Farms caramel popcorn (sold at Target). It works just like pail feeders or a Mason jar on a Boardman feeder.

To make it, I washed the plastic container out really well, then I took a small picture nail and made very small holes in the aluminum lid, and then I smoothed it out by gently tapping it with a hammer . To try it out, I filled it with fluid and tested it overnight in my kitchen sink. It worked like a charm so I knew it would be okay. The next test would be the hive itself.

To give the new sugar syrup container some stability, I put the queen excluder on top of the hive. I put two pieces of wood on top of the excluder to raise the homemade feeder up some, and then I placed it on top of the wood pieces. I gave it a minute to see if it was stable and I saw the bees finding their way to the I put an empty hive box on top, then closed it up.

It may have been unnecessary, but I kept thinking that the syrup on the bottom board, the syrup that leaked from the baggie, may attract some robbers. Heck, it sure got the attention of my own hive! So I took my garden hose, and with the water on a fine mist, rinsed the front of the hive. Some bees scrambled in the box and some flew, but I got the syrup off the landing, and then I watered the grass around the hive to dilute the syrup and the scent. As soon as I stopped, the girls were flying in and out and things were back to normal again.

I think I may try the baggie feeders again at some point, maybe even use some duct tape to seal the bag. It really is a cheap way to feed the bees, but if the bag is going to leak every time, it may be better to use the more standard methods.

Until next time, bee cool!

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