Make a native bee feeder
Make your own Bee feeder!
Feeding bees isn’t something I recommend all the time. Bees should do their thing and collect their own nectar of their choice. However when humans decide to take responsibility for the care of a wild animal or insect they should see to it that they are taken care of. Proper housing and food requirements are a must.
When winter comes along flowers fall off trees and nectar becomes a valuable resource. If you have a lot of bees in one area feeding them can help them. This is because they won’t all be competing for nectar.
This is when bees need some extra help.
I designed a simple feeder that everyone can make at home.
All you need; Milk lid, top of a soda bottle, large needle and scissors.
Simply cut the soda bottle till it will screw into the milk lid. Some patience is required. Once you have a nice fit heat up the end of your needle and with lid in place poke small holes about 5mm up from the rim of the milk lid, through the soda bottle. Then unscrew the lid and on the underside of the soda bottle push the hot needle in to make small “u” shaped grooves.
Then you fill your feeder up and quickly screw the soda lid in place. The soda lid acts as a vacuum seal to stop the liquid from falling out. The milk lid rim fills to allow bees to gather right around. The holes allow bees to hop on the side if there is no space.
Watch the feeder when in use and try to top it up before it empties. When the bees can no longer get at the food they will seal all the holes and some bees walk down the thread of the milk lid and get stuck.
Bee feeder tips
Place you feeder in the bees flight path when using outside the hive.
Use a thicker mix of feed when using inside the hive.
Feed young colonies to help them grow faster. Micro colonies is what I am referring to here.
Check out this huge feeding station made by Robert luttrell
Video of large feeding station
It has been written that these little bees will stop foraging for food & collect resin when it becomes available, so I take that as more important than food, which makes sense to me as they use it for so many different purposes.
Even toxic resin.
There can be no population increase with out resin.
It leaves me with a question.
Other than the cadaghi seed pod method of getting resin, what other methods do they use?
Different tree resins have been seen inside hives, but how do they get it?
I have seen photos on the web of a sawn off branches & the bees drinking in the sap flow for healing the branch.
They wont take man made sugar syrup when there is an abundance of natural food available, like in spring in a suburban garden.
I like having an effect/interaction with any pet I have & it makes me feel good providing the best I can.
So how can I provide the most wanted thing, resin.
I will be trying a few different things just because I’m interested & curious.
I forgot to add.
If you want a really good method of feeding your bees something a bit extra?
Much better than man made sugar syrup.
Grow some Pak choi & let it go to flower.
The flower is small, provides nectar & pollen.
Mine bolted to flower in a couple of weeks & my bees cant get enough of it.
Dead easy to grow, a quick turn around, even in a pot for a balcony hive, & you get more free seed because of the bees.
I add the tiniest amount of trace elements/minerals to any soil, & see the benefit in any plant I grow.
Thanks for you comments!! This is a good question and worthy of a post. Dean and I have observed bees taking resin from a similar to the tamarind tree. I know of other man made things that bees collect and I should do a post on this. Russel Zable sells native bee resin which would be a good way to boost your hives. I will do my best to answer this question with a post in the future.
Pak choi is a great idea. My father used to grow that stuff and your right its super fast. I might just do that as well. Thanks for making a comment and helping the bee community with this handy tip!
I think I need to be a bit clearer here, but I’m not a good writer.
I think folk will get my drift.
Some people live in low resin areas.
Bees want all different sources of resin/sap, for all different uses.
Much of the collected resin in hives has a high % chemical make up of the Cadaghi tree/ properties, & yet each resin is kept separate.
Resin/sap is locked away in the plant & the bees cant get to it, unless they follow in something like a tree borer.
Its not always available.
The answer seems simple to me, grow a known Cadaghi tree, or other resin tree in a pot & milk it like a rubber tree.
Or you could just cut in past the bark of an in ground existing tree.
Not so much as to hurt it, but enough to give the bees what they want & when they want it.
Some neighbours might call the police if you cut into their trees 🙂
How fast would multiple hives on one property grow with endless resin?
How much more honey production would there be with endless resin?
Available nectar & pollen & temperature doesn’t seem to be a problem here on the gold coast.
I hope these are original thoughts.
Thanks for that comment Adrian. I do wander around in the bush a lot and look at flowers and sap oozing from trees and so on to see what our carbonaria bees like. I’ve seen bees on mango sap, bloodwood and angophora. I found an amazing angophora oozing many kg of bright red sap with bees all over it, so I collected a couple of kg and brought it home. My bees ignored it!
I don’t even know the weight percentage of resin and wax in the bees cerumen. But it does make sense that if you can provide what they want, then they will surge ahead. Lots of unanswered questions there.
Just stumbled across this after having made a new ring of stingless bee feeders. Some great thoughts added above and great article Nicholas. I will say to Adrian that they definitely do take sugar syrup at any time when expanding. Love the stuff. Nicholas here is a link to the feeders I use (on my website).
Great website 🙂 keep up the great work.
Thanks Daniel! Nice to have someone stop by. I checked out your feeder. Nice design. I might make one and give it a go.
Hi guys, I went and built both of the above mentioned feeders for my inactive looking hive.
Firstly I built Nicks bottle top feeder. I can see what you mean about patience being required but I found it quite meditative trimming tiny slithers off until it fit perfectly. I placed it inside just above the brood on the brood separator but they just didn’t seem interested, seemingly ignoring it in fact.
So I built Daniels plumbing tube feeder. This was a much faster build and built identically with parts I already had in the garage. I then attached it via the upper air hole which I had blocked with a irrigation system end piece. At first they seemed interested as their was now a new entrance but after a few days I realised they were only interested as it was just that a new entrance. Once they stopped coming and going I opened the hive to have a look through the viewing window only to see they’d now fully blocked the new entrance. and were back to their old lives.
So it seems my inactive hive aren’t as inactive or lacking in food as I thought and maybe they just want me to sod off and leave them alone. I now believe it was purely down to the season. So for now I’ll just leave them and check back on them in Spring.
Thanks for the information its been interesting testing these feeders out.
This is great mate!! Good feedback and good on you for building and testing.
Bees are a bit funny during winter they can be a little more fussy when the weather changes. Keep your feeders and when the honey flow is on try again it can encourage them to go hard at it. Warm weather is when they will hammer the feeders. My little one has been emptied in a day when they really wanted to feed. They do however reach a point where they have had enough. Nectar is the best for them but it’s good to train them to go to a feeder during the warmer months so coming into winter they know where easy food is. Do this by placing it close to the entrance during warmer months and slowly moving it to the desired sheltered location. They will remember it. Near their flight path is a good way to go. Nick
I put another feeder near the hive just i case but that just attracted in the Honeyeaters(bird). Which isn’t an issue as they are really nice to watch. Over the week i’ve slower moved that feeder away to another part of the garden where I can see them from our Kitchen so as not to scare them off.
As Nick said that is most probably a Winter thing. I have continued to experiment with those feeders and also had some close them up in the last few weeks. Just open the hole back up in spring and I think you will then find success.
I am working on a communal feeder now as individual feeders are mega time consuming. I’ll share with you Nick when I have it up and running (probably wont get a real idea until spring).
What do you ‘make’ the sugar syrup with?
There are a couple of ways to make food. Cec heather uses a mix of APIs honey 2/3 parts water. Ces heather uses a similar thing. They will take sugar water as long as it’s broken down using an acid. Dean may care to comment. ?
The invert sugar recipe first provided to me by another beekeeper. About 2 parts plain white sugar to 1 part water. I teaspoon of tartaric acid. Heat on the stove with constant stirring at about 85 deg C for 20 minutes. When cool add a few drops of rose water for a pleasant smell. These days I tend to wing it, I add the food acid until the acidity is ‘about right’ by taste. I vary the amount of sugar or water to make it runnier if I want. The recipe seems to be much shared and always loved by bees.