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Syrup Feeder - Bees Blocking Holes With Propolis

I have started feeding my bees with 1:1 syrup.
The reason I am feeding is that there are signs that nectar flow is a bit light at the moment. The New Holland Honeyeaters and Red Wattlebirds have moved out, normally they are here in much greater numbers.

They guzzled 3 jars of 375ml over 3 days, I had a gap of two days then fed them another jar.
One of my hives guzzled the 4th jar in 24 hours but the other had only consumed half of the jar.
When I looked at the holes in the jar lid I could see that they had plugged all of the holes with propolis.
Is this normal behaviour?

My hives are both Flowhive 2 and the syrup jar sits over the hole in the top board. Both hives have a super and the girls are slowly waxing up the flow frames and starting to fill the cells.

Is this feeder an upturned jar with holes in the lid which allows water droplets to leak out, but because of the combination of hole size and a vacuum in the jar, never drip, allowing the bees to feed?
If so, I would guess that perhaps something has gone wrong, maybe the lid isn’t secured enough or the holes have become larger, allowing the syrup to drip out and thus prompting the bees to close it off. It’s not a model of feeder that I like.
I wonder do you really need to feed? Somebody from your area would have better advice here, but you mention that the bees are starting to fill the cells in the super. This is likely where your syrup is going.

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I agree with Jim in that your hives may not need feeding, especially seeing as the bees are starting to fill the cells in the Flow super.

I’ve been feeding my nucs at home here over the last couple of weeks, primarily to keep them alive. I’m feeding them on honey from my main bee site. I’m using upside down jam jars with holes in the lids, which works well.

We’ve had a couple of days without much rain which has helped the situation greatly.

In summary: If your bees plugged the holes for some reason, just unplug them if you want the bees to keep taking it.

PS, since posting, I checked our latest weather forecast. Tomorrow we have a 95% chance of getting 35-60mm, then the following day they predict another 95% chance of getting 15-70mm… Therefore I wont put the jam jars away just yet.

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Thanks Jim and Jeff.
Yes Jim, it is a jar with holes in the lid. I used the same system last season with no problems, but your idea that the lid may not have been tight makes good sense. I will take care to see that the lids are tight.
Jeff, the nectar/syrup in the flow frames is small quantities only, but I will keep an eye on what the girls are up to.
Others in our are are feeding, probably a short dearth. Looking at the flowering times spreadsheet I started last year we may be heading into about 5 to 6 weeks of low flow.
This season our Angophora’s had a very short flowering and the Lemon Scented Gums seem to have very patchy flowering. The Yellow Gums are maybe 3 weeks off. Grey Box in early March. That said, we live in a low density residential subdivision and there are other ornamental plants flowering.

I wouldn’t recommend feeding with a super on - it may help the bees draw out the flow frames but they will fill the cells with sugar instead of foraged honey.

If they’re not taking the feed or they’re covering the feeder, I’d say they don’t need or want it.

They can consume a huge amount of syrup when they want it - one of my hives took in ~15L of 2:1 syrup in just over a day last fall.

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Something extra to my comments above.
We have had some really hot days and I wonder if the air expanding in the top of the jar has pumped syrup through the holes faster than the bees can drink it. However this does not explain why it was only one of my two hives. The holes in the lids are the same size for both jars.

If the reason for feeding is a honey dearth on account of wet weather, I think a good option would be to feed the bees on dry white sugar, which is an option that I should consider for my own bees at home here. The bees will have no problems in accessing the water needed to re liquify the sugar crystals.

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Hi Jeff, thanks for the reply. Wet weather? Where can I get some of that stuff? :grinning:
We have had a total of 22mm in the last 7 weeks. Our last rain was 5mm on December 19.
Others in our area have noticed their bees consuming their stores of honey, hence the feeding.
My bees have ready access to water so I suppose I could use dry sugar, but syrup is probably an easy option at the moment.

@chau06 15 litres in just over a day is a pretty amazing figure. I bet you could hear the girls slurping it up.

Hi Ian, earlier today I googled dry sugar feeding & found a good link to Agriculture Victoria. They give good advice on feeding dry sugar.

I did a double take when I looked in the feeder and it was all gone expecting to find the tray full of syrup that had leaked out! But no leak or robbing, they were just ready for it!

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