In one of my recent posts I talked about feeding your bees in the early spring. Well, my method works fine if the weather is warm enough for your bees to be flying around outside the hive.
But, how can you feed your bees if the weather is too cold for them to leave the hive?
Emile Warre solved the problem in his book, “Beekeeping For All.” On page 62 he describes the Spring and Summer feeder. He states:
“To feed colonies that are short of stores in spring and summer, and to stimulate comb building in weak colonies, we have another feeder. It will hold 200 g syrup.”
Warre Hive Feeder Description:
- A. Float made of 9 mm wooden rods side by side for the bees to stand on while feeding
- B. Syrup Trough 20 mm deep. External dimensions: length 250 mm; width 150 mm..
- C. Drawer. This is holds the Trough and Float together.
- D. Feeder Surround having the external dimensions of a hive-body box and a height of 2 mm more than the frame in C.
Build the Warre Spring and Summer Feeder
This feeder is simple to build. It is just a (very) short hive stand with one end open so you can slide a feeder box with syrup under the beehive.
The feeder surround should be built to be 34 cm long by 30 cm wide. These are the external dimensions of the Warre Hive Box. Leave one end of the frame open as in the picture above.
The feeder drawer does not need to be complex. You can build a small box with a flat bottom and add some strips of wood inside the box for the bees to stand on. You can add a piece of wood to the front of the box as in the picture above…but this is optional.
The Warre Feeder is great for both spring and summer feeding
You can also add some small pieces of light wood to the trough. When filled with syrup, the wood will float and create a landing place for the honeybees.
Build this feeder, fill the trough with some syrup. Fill until the syrup almost covers the float, but not quite. The bees should be able to stand on the wood float to feed.
Now, slide the whole feeder assembly under your Warre beehive. Your bees can stay inside the hive in cold weather and feast on the food you provide.
To refill the syrup, simply slide the feeder drawer out from the surround, pour some more syrup into the trough and then put the feeder drawer back.
Your honeybees will thank you!
I love this idea, because you aren’t completely opening the hive, yet the food is going inside the hive where it will be found and used. What about the pollen patty? Could you modify so that both syrup (or honey) and pollen patties could be available to the bees in Spring?
Pat – Very good idea! I don’t think it would be too difficult to lengthen the feeder drawer about 6-8 inches and add another trough to hold a pollen patty. Then you would be able to feed pollen and syrup at the same time.
I am not quite sure I follow–how do the bees get to the feeder, and stay out of the cold if it is under the hive? Do you mean to put it above the entry but under the first section?
My daughter and I built three Warre Hives today. We are getting excited about getting our bees April 7th. Any suggestions on what type of beekeeping equipment we need to get?
Garth – The feeder drawer is slid under the hive box, so the bees can feed with going outside the hive. The feeder rests on the floor and under the hives boxes.
I would suggest a good hive tool, a smoker, and of course the proper bee clothing. You will also need a way to harvest the honey. More on that in future posts.
I would like to try out this feeder design. I was wondering though if having the feeder down low below the hive box, if that would attract other insects like ants to the hive.. what is your experience with this?
Marika – It may attract ants…but ants are not a problem. Ants live compatibly with bees in my Warre Hive’s. They don’t seem to bother each other. Even if the ants did bother the bees, the honeybees can take care of themselves.
Ants are 70% formic acid (or some such high number) Formic acid is known to be a mite deterrent. So, ants in the beehive may be a beneficiatl thing. Who knows?
I’m a newbee, but have done a LOT of research, and I’ve not seen ANYONE else say that ants are a Good Thing. 🙂 That said: yes, syrup/sugar attracts ants. *So does honey.* So ants *definitely* want in to a beehive, feeder or no.
There are 2 basic things to do here: (a) bees in a strong hive will defend it from ants, and (b) YOU can defend the hive from ants.
In nature, bees will e.g. pick a hollow tree, which buys them some time before they build enough comb and gather enough honey to attract ants – which THEN have to discover the honeycomb in the tree – by which time hopefully the colony is ‘strong’. In a typical new-hive situation, with a package in a new hive and a feeder: that doesn’t happen. It’s a weak, non-established colony with a new alien queen, no comb drawn, no brood, a TON of work for the workers to do to establish the colony — and a feeder full of sugar water. Any wonder ants invade? It’s like the perfect ant bait!
So, (b): you made it (the situation) – you own it. And fix it. 🙂 So far, I’ve found the absolute best, and amazingly successful!, solution to be (drum roll….) CINNAMON!. Yep.
I had massive ant incursions in my first hive immediately, and just now in my 2nd (both Warrés I built myself) — ants ALL over the place. Got a big bottle of cinnamon (CostCo is great, but even at Safeway it’s only $6-7 for the big size). Sprinkled it all around the perimeter on the ground, then on the legs where the bees aren’t likely to be but the ants will crawl up. (Vaseline on the legs seems helpful too – thick coat – cheap big generic drugstore brand – and cinnamon sticks to it.) I’m not kidding – came back 2 hours later and ants were GONE. Gone, gone, gone. Maybe 2-3 on the hive, down from a hundred or more.
2 notes: (1) you have to re-apply, esp. after rain. (2) ants and bees are both Hymenoptera, and are sensitive to the same things (which is why ant poison or traps, even with small entrances, are risky) — so bees hate cinnamon as much as ants do. Fortunately, bees fly; ants don’t. So they’ll hit the landing board or fly right in; the ants have to cross the ‘mined zone’ on foot.
Hope this helps! Works so far (knock wood – ahem) for me…
I did make and use this feeder and through this I have some new questions: 1) based on this design, the entrance to hive is blocked by the feeder. Your instructions do not address bee hive entrance with use of this hive. How do you deal with it? I ended up just leaving the trough/drawer slightly open. Only thing is that you end up with two entrances this way if you pull that drawer out evenly. So anyone else use this feeder and can tell me how they dealt with it?
BTW, I didn’t so far have any ant problem.
2) the instructions don’t mention how to ensure the feeder is leak proof. I highly recommend that one melts bees wax along all the wood joints to seal any openings/cracks in joints. Then I highly recommend that you test it for being leakproof by adding liquid to it, like water and seeing if it leaks after a time. Otherwise you may well have a mess out at the apiary.
3) when do you take this off? and what do you do for winter feeding if it’s necessary? or do you leave this on all year? you call it a spring/summer feeder so I am assuming you use another system for fall/winter? please elaborate, or if someone else out there uses something else for feeding in winter or spring, I would love to hear about it. Thanks.
I built a spring feeder too. My requeened laying worker hive was really low on foragers. They were queenless quite awhile before I discovered it, so foragers were dying off before the new ones were old enough to take over.
This feeder doesn’t block the hive entrance. I believe you’ve got it on backwards. The drawer should slide out in the BACK of the hive. This is really handy, since you don’t have to venture into the flight path to fill the feeder. I don’t even wear a veil while filling it, because the bees really don’t mind.
I have windows in the hive with the feeder on it. I’ll try to post some pictures soon of the bees feeding from the feeder.
I have had ants extremely interested in the hive since I put on the feeder – so much so that they built a nest in the quilt! What a mess. They were shoving sawdust out of the quilt (that’s how I found them) and filling the space with eggs. I dumped the whole thing and replaced the quilt contents with red cedar sawdust. The ants don’t like it, but it doesn’t seem to bother the bees at all. (The other Warre hive already had cedar in the quilt.)
I will take off my feeder when they no longer need it. Warre describes a top feeder for fall/winter in Beekeeping for All, but I haven’t studied that one yet.
Thanks for your post. However, I don’t know how you built the feeder, but how can the bees enter at the entrance if the feeder surround has a floor built into it and this it is in effect blocking the entry of any bees, whether you install the drawer on the front or the back. Did you leave a hole in the floor of the surround? If so, the directions didn’t mention anything of it.
Another question – what are you going to do for fall/winter feeding? No one on this site has mentioned any recommendations for a feeder for fall/winter for Warre. I am in zone 5.
I am a bit disappointed that there is no timely answer to any of my questions that I have been putting up on this website.
This is the only source there seems to be for Warre hives and unfortunately, I am feeling in the dark and on my own now having gone with Warre hives. I was hoping for more support.
Am hoping that some others can chime in, Please!!
I am thinking of moving my drawer feeder up on top of the hive, under the quilt for the fall and winter and putting a hole behind the drawer in the floor of the surround so the bees can get up to the feeder. I’m not sure this will work or will make sense – but it was something I have been contemplating realizing that I need to DO ‘Something’ and I feel like I have to just figure it out on my own at this point.
So please please chime in folks – I could use some help…. maybe some others out there who are checking this website may need it as much as I do too….
My spring feeder doesn’t have a floor in it. The surround and drawer are placed directly on the bottom board, which acts as their “floor.” That way the surround of the feeder is just an extension of the hive body above it, and the entrance is left open.
My feeder holds about 1 3/4 cups of honey syrup, which is fine for now, and it’s easy to refill. I don’t think it’s enough, though, for fall feeding. I am planning to build a fall/winter feeder as per Warre’s “Beekeeping for All.” I’ll let you know how that goes.
“Beekeeping for All” is very helpful, and available as a free download. I think everyone with a Warre hive should have a copy. I do find, though, that for things like building the feeders, I have to re-read and think through it several times before I understand it enough for me to duplicate them.
That’s where sites like this can be a lot of help. So, as Marika suggests, chime in please everybody!
Thanks for letting me how you’ve made adjustments to the above model.
I need to read up on the fall feeder in the Beekeeping For All– in the meantime could you please summarize in a few sentences where it goes and how it’s designed?
Also when you built the spring feeder, did you do anything to ensure it is leak proof? This was the other problem I ran into. Mine ended up leaking. I had posted earlier about this but nobody responded about it. I ended up using some beeswax I melted down into the joints of the feeder to make it leak proof.
It was tricky to keep the bees from drowning and so I put lots of little pcs of wood in it.
I am curious what others have used as feeders if you are using the Warre?
As a 72 yr old female beekeeper, I have been strugggling with the weight of the Langs in my yard, and deeply concerned about using the chemicals necessary to control mites. Your site has given me hope that a lighter, more natural way to keep bees is available. Thank you. I am getting some Warres made as I speak. For older beekeepers, the Warres definitely seem the way to go.
To keep the bees from drowning in the spring feeder, I made a float as in “A” in the diagram above. The slender pieces of wood that were left from cutting the rebates for the hive bodies came in quite handy for this.
Just like you, I melted beeswax to seal the seams of the feeder. It worked pretty well, but the wood of my feeder, being pine, is pretty porous so it soaks up a lot of moisture. I notice that Warre recommends paint to make the fall/winter feeder leakproof. That’s what I plan to use for the spring feeder… if I can get the wax removed well enough for the paint to stick!
A brief description of the fall/winter feeder? Yikes. Well, I’ll give it a shot. To begin with, you have a plain old hive body. The addition of a floor and two partition boards makes it a feeder for the top of the Warre hive.
The floor that goes about 3/4 of the way from the back of the box to the front. It is sloped with the shallow end in the back, so that the syrup flows toward the front. The front edge of the floor abuts a partition wall that goes most of the way, but not all the way, to the top of the hive box. This wall is covered with screen wire so that the bees have good footing and don’t drown. The bees only need access to a narrow pool of syrup. Anything more than that, and you get drowned bees. So Warre has a wall just behind the screened wall I’ve just described. It goes to the top of the box to keep bees from getting behind it, and it is supported on protruding nails on the bottom to let the syrup flow beneath it. The floor is supported by battens, and both walls slide into battens on the hive box walls. A peek at Warre’s diagram in “Beekeeping for All” will help this description make a lot more sense!
Warre suggests topping the feeder with a sheet of glass. I assume this is so you can check the syrup level without unnecessarily opening the hive and releasing scent and heat.
I hope that is helpful. It was a bit of a stretch for me. I’m an artist, and I can’t describe anything well without drawing pictures. ;o)
Lavon, I started looking at Warres because of lifting issues as well, and then found that the whole theory of these hives makes lovely sense. Best wishes with your new hives!
I was trying to find the down loadable version of
“Beekeeping for All”, I assume it was at http://www.warrebeehive.com, but that site is down….
anyone got a copy of this?
You can download a copy of Warre’s “Beekeeping for All” at warre.biobees.com
I don’t have a Warre yet, but I would like one.
I am studying the feeding options.
I saw a Slovakian beekeeper putting empty hive boxes above the hive with feeding jars in these videos
He was not using the quilt at the same time, however, to the best of what I could see.
BUT, based on the plans here, why couldn’t the tray that holds the syrup be an appropriately shaped tupperware box built in? Also, in other feeding systems I have used in other hives, I have floated dry pine needles to make rafts for the bees to stand on to avoid drowning-
does anyone have opinions or thoughts on whether this would work here?
Hi Eve, thanks for the share. That was a great video, definitely food for thought. The tray could easily be modified like you mentioned. If you give it a go then send me a picture and I’ll post it. The bees should have some sort of raft, I use small pieces of dowel rod but the pine needles would work great too.
Any thoughts on swarm prevention/management in a Warre hive. I am an urban beekeeper and this is a ethical concern here. We can’t ignore the possibility of a neighbor having to pay for a cutout in their attic or eaves. It is happening a lot now that urban ag is so popular. I love the concept of less intervention but I can’t answer my Lang friends’ questions about swarming.
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Hey we’re in Minnesota and we are used to keeping bees in Florida. How do I winterize them?
What precautions do I need to take for the hives?
What is the ratio of a sugar water mix?