In preparation for post-harvest feeding, I bought a couple of feeders from Modern Beekeeping to go with my new hives. Like all their hives, they come bare and require painting before use. Even though feeders are only in use for a few weeks throughout the year, it’s important that they are painted to protect them and ensure a long life. In particular, its important to paint the area that contains the syrup with a couple of coats of gloss paint, otherwise the mixture penetrates the polystyrene and can go off making it almost impossible to clean. I used two coats of Dulux “Once” white gloss that I happened to find in the garage that did the job nicely and the same time, I repainted the inside of my other feeders including a wooden one that I got from Thornes a few years ago.
One of the things that I have noticed with the wooden feeder is that I always end up with lots of dead bees that seem to fall into the sugar mix and drown. The particular design of the feeder means that they need fishing out with a stick at regular intervals which is very messy and leads to a lot of unwanted attention from other bees in the apiary.
My newer polystyrene feeders have a slightly different, more open design which is a lot easier to clean out, but one tip I can highly recommend is to get a small cup of fine, clean sand from a child’s play area or the beach and sprinkle it carefully just on the area where the bees feed from as the last coat of gloss is drying. Shake off the excess making sure that you don’t get sand on the inside of the feeder and allow the paint to dry as normal.
The resulting rough surface enables the feeding bees to get a good grip as they come over the top and down the other side to get to the syrup. As the Queen will stop laying eggs in the Autumn, worker bees emerging at this time will need to survive through the winter and into early spring next year so anything we can do to preserve the numbers of “winter” bees is a good thing, or as Tesco says in rather poor English, “Every little helps”….