Since we’re now on our third jar of sugar syrup, I should take a minute and talk about how we feed our little ladies. As a new beekeeper, I had virtually no plan for how I should feed my package bees when they arrived. Thankfully, a kind friend from the Oly bee club took pity on me and recommended a Boardman feeder, and even offered to lend me one until I could get my own. I gratefully accepted, although my Master Beekeeper of Washington book strongly discourages the use of Boardman feeders.
There seems to be some controversy over the Boardman feeder. Other types of feeders include top feeders, in-hive feeders that take the place of a few frames, candy board, mock candy, dry sugar, drawn comb, and probably other things I have never heard of. (There’s a pretty good summary of bee feeders here.)I have probably read more things against the Boardman-style feeder than in support of it, but it seems to be the favored type of feeder among the bee people in my area. (They say if you ask 10 beekeepers how to do something, you will get at least 12 different answers.) Fortunately, my bee class teacher was there when I picked up the bees, and I asked him about it. “The book you teach us from says not to use the Boardman feeders, but here we are picking up packages and everyone is saying to use the Boardman feeder. Any insight?” He said that the the Boardman feeder is bad for winter feeding, and bad for places where it gets so cold that it freezes at night, and maybe it’s bad for some other things but in the springtime in western washington, it’s really the best option. And everyone seemed to hate the in-hive feeders. They are really good at drowning bees.
So I brought home my borrowed boardman feeder, and I punched some tiny holes in the lid of a mason jar. I mixed up a sugar solution of 1:1 parts organic, non-gmo evaporated cane sugar and hot water. I mixed it until it was clear, screwed on the lid, and waited until it cooled to room temp. Then, I dropped it neatly into place on the feeder.
The bees seem happy with it. They got their third jar of sugar syrup tonight. This is their fifth night in the hive. The queen cage was empty after 48 hours, and we have to wait a week to check and make sure they are drawing comb and the queen is laying eggs. In the meantime, we watch the bees come and go. We call this activity Bee TV, and it’s much better than cable.