Best Bee Feeders – Reviews and Usage Guide (2022)

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Bee colonies are self-sustaining in nature. As a matter of fact, bees have survived and thrived for centuries without the need for human intervention. Once bees establish their colony they are able to locate, retrieve and utilize resources located miles away from the hive. They can manage to maintain themselves and even reserve honey for the future. However, there are instances when bees require a helping hand. This is where the bee feeder comes comes handy. It is the equipment required for providing the bees with additional food resources. Bee feeders are essential for sustaining honeybees during the brief and specific situations when they are required.

Why and When do you need a Bee Feeder?

The bee feeder is required by the bees only during specific situations. Feeding is essential for the bees whenever the colony is in short supply of food. If not provided, the bees may starve to death. However, those who keep the bee keeper on the hive throughout the year are doing it wrong. The motive behind the provision of a bee feeder is to lend a helping hand to the bees only when necessary and let the bees take care of themselves at other times.

Starvation and food shortage are common problems to any bee colony not only during cold seasons but also during summer. Any beekeeper who fails to monitor the beehive for food during summer should be blamed for food shortage and starvation in summer.

To prevent bee death during cold months, put frames of food from other colonies along the edges of the cluster. You can also provide candy to the bees. Force this between the frames. Contact feeders are also ideal for supplementing the bee food.

Some of the times when a bee feeder is required include the following:

1. During Colony Establishment

The best time to provide the feeder is when a new colony has just been introduced, especially when it is brought in as a package. During such a time the bees are unfamiliar to the area and its resources. They therefore need support at this time.

2. Onset of Winter

Bees are always prepared for tough times. They can keep sufficient reserves during summer and fall. This can sustain them all through the winter season. Some beekeepers however find it necessary to offer a little support to the bees by feeding during fall as winter approaches. You can read more on this further down. For now, let’s dive into our list of the best bee feeders.

 

Overview of the Best Bee Feeders

10. Farmstand Supply Ultimate Hive Feeder for Beekeepers (2 pack)

Best Bee Feeders - Farmstand Supply 2 Pack Ultimate Hive Feeder for Beekeepers

This is a duo-feature unit bee feeder that can be placed on top of the frame or on the inner cover.  It has a 1 gallon translucent tank that can easily be filled and replaced. It is also fitted with an automatic valve that ensures a uniform syrup level is maintained. The feeder is designed with a large feeding area, however spillages can occur if not setup properly. Its 2 feeders are compatible with a 10-frame medium super. Click here to read our full review of the Ultimate Hive Feeder for Beekeepers.

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9. Little Giant Farm and Ag BKTFDR2 2-Gallon Bucket Feeder

Best Bee Feeders - Little Giant Farm & Ag BKTFDR2 Bucket Feeder

This is another good bee feeder that will come in handy when resources are scarce for the bees. It is well secured to keep robbers off the syrup and its simple design make it easy to use. It weighs 1.1 pounds and has dimensions of 10.5 x 10.5 x 7.5 inches.

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8. Toughtimbers Entrance Bee Feeder

Best Bee Feeders - Toughtimbers Entrance Bee Feeder

This is a wooden entrance bee feeder that comes with a 1 feeder lid. It is a pine feeder weighing approximately 2 pounds with dimensions of 20 x 1 x 16 inches. The feeder works perfectly with a quart glass jar. It is one of the best ways for providing the bees with water all summer. The feeder comes with caps and extra caps are available for purchase.

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7. Toughtimbers Beehive 10 Frame Top Hive Feeder with Floats

Best Bee Feeders - Toughtimbers Beekeeping Bee Hive 10-Frame Top Hive Feeder with Floats

This hive top feeder from Toughtimbers comes with a number of features designed to ensure the bees are sufficiently catered for during the tough times. It is fitted with floats and will perfectly fit a 10-frame hive. The unit is delivered stapled, glued and ready to install. All you need to do is set it up on the top of the colony, fill it with the syrup, cover it with the inner cover then replace the top. Several compartments have been provided to prevent the bees from drowning and with the center access, the bees can easily access the syrup.

This feeder weighs 15 pounds and has a dimension of 24 x 20 x 6 inches. It has a capacity of 2 gallons.

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6. Honey Hive Farms Boardman Entrance Feeder

Best Bee Feeders - Boardman Entrance Feeder

This front entrance feeder from Honey Hive Farms offers maximum convenience in feeding the bees. You can simply check the syrup without the need to open the bee hive. It is a 8 ounce feeder with dimensions of 6.8 x 4.8 x 1.8 inches. It can be used with an inverted glass that should be bought separately.

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5. Little Giant Farm & Ag FRAMEFDR Frame Feeder

Best Bee Feeders - Little Giant Farm & Ag FRAMEFDR Frame Feeder

This 1.4 pound feeder comes in handy when outside sources of food are not available for the bees. It fits perfectly in the place of a frame within the brood box. The feeder has been designed with uttermost ingenuity so as to protect the bees from drowning. It can hold 3 quarts of syrup and does not require tools to assemble.

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4. Harvest Lane Honey FEEDBB 102 Entrance Feeder

Best Bee Feeders - HARVEST LANE HONEY FEEDBB-102 Entrance Bee Feeder

This highly durable entrance feeder will provide sufficient resources for the bees throughout the hard times. It is a 2.9 ounce feeder with dimensions of 5 x 5 x 0.5 inches. The feeder is easy to use and can be monitored without the need to open up the entire hive. It can be used with a glass jar which should be bought separately. It is however not recommended for winter feeding.

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3. Mann Lake Entrance Feeder

Best Bee Feeders - Mann Lake Entrance Feeder

This is a 0.2 pounds feeder with dimensions of 1.2 x 3.25 x 5.5 inches. It can easily be installed at the entrance of the hive and allows the beekeeper to check the resource levels without disturbing the bees. The unit is also easy to clean and allows one to use a separate Mason jar at the hive’s entrance. It is a durable unit but not ideal for feeding during cold seasons.

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2. Harvest Lane Honey FEEDBBG 102 Entrance Feeder

Best Bee Feeders - Harvest Lane Honey FEEDBBG 102 Entrance Feeder

The 1.1 pound entrance bee feeder comes with some amazing features. It is big enough to provide sufficient provisions for the bees during the desired seasons. The feeder is easy to install and can last for many years. It has a dimension of 5 x 5 x 10 inches and is manufactured in the US. Once you install it you can monitor the resource levels without the need to open the hive and disturb the bees.

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1. Foxhound Bee Company Front Entrance Honey Bee Feeder

Foxhound Bee Company Front Entrance Honey Bee Feeder

Providing sustenance for a honeybee colony is required of every beekeeper at least once in their beekeeping operation. This Front Entrance Honey Bee Feeder and Lid is your reliable companion when you need to help support a colony of honeybees until it can collect enough nutrition for itself. This bee feeder is white plastic equipment used with most of its body outside the beehive. It is placed at the entrance of the beehive so honeybees leaving the beehive encounter the feeder. This feeder is for use in feeding sugar syrup and water to honeybees. Some part of it enters the beehive while the rest remains outside the beehive.

A jar containing the liquid you are feeding your honeybees is placed on one end of the feeder with a lid for the jar. This feeder takes most standard sized bee feeder jars. The jar stays in an upside down position and releases its contents into the feeder. In the beehive, the end of the feeder that is in the beehive is a multi-step entrance into the feeder. This feeder has 3 such steps. The first step is 3/8 inches high from the floor of the beehive. It is followed by a second step that is ¾ inches high. The third step is 1 1/8 inches high. The feeder measures 5 ½ inches long from the tip of the first step to the end of the sugar jar lid area.

Using this bee feeder is easy so both beginner and experienced beekeepers are able to get the best from the feeder in their beekeeping operations. What’s more, this bee feeder is made using high quality and durable plastic material. It is safe for use in beehives from which you will harvest products including honey for human consumption.

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How to Feed the Bees

Feeding should begin once the hive feels light at fall. Feeding with sugar syrup that is a mixture of 2 parts sugar to 1 parts water should begin immediately. As temperatures keep dropping to under 50°F or 10°C switch the food to the recommended cold weather feed or feed that work well for such levels of temperature.

Liquid feed should be provided to the bees when temperatures are warm, preferably 50°F or 10°C. This should be placed in one of the internal feeders so as to keep the bees from going outside. It is also quite challenging for bee robbers to get the food when kept within the beehive. A mold inhibitor should also be added. Fill one super with sugar cakes if you expect the temperatures to tremendously drop. A mountain camp rim or a candy board will also suffice if the temperatures are expected to drop below 50°F or 10°C.

Feeding should never be a one-time affair but rather an ongoing task. Keep checking the hives occasionally, especially in dry and sunny days. The honey-rich frames should be moved closer to the cluster and where possible feed provided. Do not be deceived by the fact that temperatures are rising with onset of spring. Food shortage can happen even during warmer months if food stores are not monitored and regulated accordingly. This therefore means that honey harvesting should also be controlled otherwise you risk depleting the bee honey stores.

What not to Feed the Bees

If you thought survival through winter is the end of all struggles to the bee colony, then think again. Some bee colonies that survive the harsh winter end up dying in early spring for other reasons. One of the main reasons for that is food shortage, since all stores of food are depleted when winter ends. To further aggravate the situation, the bees may die if fed the wrong food. Making it through the harsh winter can end up being the beginning of a nightmare to any beekeeper, if he or she ends up losing an entire bee colony. Winter feeding for the bees should be undertaken with lots of caution.

Remember not to feed your bees with the following:

  • Avoid honey that is sourced from unknown sources when feeding your bees. Honey can harbor disease causing spores or pathogens that can be spread to your healthy bee colony. American Foulbrood is one of those diseases easily spread through honey and can easily spread from one hive to the other.
  • Avoid sugar with additives. Bees are very sensitive to any additives or colorings and therefore foods with such substances should be avoided. Avoid brown sugar since it is rich in molasses. One other type of food to avoid is commercial fondant since it contains colorings or and flavorings. Such foods are predisposing factors for honey bee diseases such as dysentery. This is a highly contagious bee disease that can easily spread between bee hives and bee colonies.
  • High fructose corn syrup should be avoided as well since it contains Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). This can poison the bees and it is more common in old syrup or any kind of syrup that has warmed up.

Improper feeding is one of the main causes of bee die-out. Most beekeepers unknowingly feed their bees on foods they do not know their sources or additive-rich feed. You should desist from feeding your bees with such foods.

What you can Feed the Bees

Honey is the best food for the bees and that is precisely why they make honey. Honey stores are not meant for the beekeeper but rather for the survival of the bee colony. Therefore, it is the best food for feeding the bees. Those with a number of hives that are excellent producers will not have problems in the cold season or summer season when there is a shortage of food. The full supers from rich beehives can be exchanged with poorly performing hives. If you do not have extra honey to feed the bees, then you should feed the bees with the recommended alternative bee foods. These include the following:

  • Sugar syrup that is made from white table sugar is your next best thing to feed the bees if you are short of honey supply. Ensure you mix sugar with water in a ratio of 2:1. That is two parts sugar against 1 part water. The same proportion should be maintained irrespective of the quantity of your mixture. The same proportion applies to winter or fall supplements. This ensures a perfect balance of the sugar content as well as the water.
  • The second alternative is fondant sugar cakes or granular sugar. This is the best alternative for those in areas where temperatures fall below 50°F or 10°C. Sugar syrup will not be ideal in such areas since it will certainly freeze when temperatures fall below certain points.
  • Table sugar is the next best option. However, table sugar lacks the micronutrients that are available in honey. To make up for this, feed stimulants that are rich in essential oils should be added. This includes Honey-B-Healthy or Pro Health which will boost the table sugar.

Feeding with the recommended feed should begin at the onset of cold weather. It never hurts to keep feeding your bees with sugar syrup even when there is no food shortage. Being proactive in feeding the bees in all seasons helps guarantee food safety and the honey stores will last longer. It helps balance the feed for the bees instead of depending solely on honey.

Conclusion

Bee feeding is essential for the survival of the bee colony. The bees are usually in dire need for feeding during the onset of cold months since pollen and nectar are not available during this time. Feeding should also be undertaken even when honey stores are full as a way of regulating food intake and guaranteeing food safety for a long time. Feed the bees with the right food and in the correct way as well.

With the wide variety of bee feeders in the market, you can never run short of a choice. The best bee feeders are essential for the survival of the bees when times are hard. However, you should remove it when it is not needed. For information on how to add feeders to your beehive, click here.

What do you think of our picks of the best bee feeders? Which feeder(s) do you think should be added to this list? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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Michael Kilpatrick
Michael Kilpatrick
2 years ago

I like the Apis Rapid Bee Feeder because I like the idea of the bees not having to come out into the box to eat. This reduces exposure to the bees to colder air. Feeder is set over the hole on the hive cover or super cover depending on set up. Syrup or dry sugar can be used in this type feeder I think

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[…] These are the most popular with beekeepers. They are made up of two parts: an inverted syrup container placed outside the hive and a tray for feeding placed at the hive entrance. They are quite easy to monitor and does not disturb the bees when checking or refilling the syrup. via […]

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[…] are lots of kinds of bee feeders on the market and every has its professionals and cons. You possibly can really do it your self […]

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