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Feeding bees


If you need to feed bees in a top bar hive, don’t the jar feeders get in the way of the comb? I have heard of people putting their feeders on the other side of the follower board and making a hole in the board for the bees to access the feeder, but what would keep them from starting to build comb on that side of the follower board?


I prefer to put them on the side of the follower with the bees. They seem to find and take it quicker than when it’s on the other side of the follower. As long as you monitor through the window and keep moving it over as the combs get close there should be no problem.

I’ve never seen a colony build comb on the other side of a follower – it’s as if they don’t view it as part of their own hive. Just about all of my colonies can access the other side of the follower.




I am not sure I correctly installed my feeder into my topbar hive (both feeder and hive purchased from your company). I have a lot of ants, and they are crawling all over the feeder, which is in the hive with the bees. I have liberally applied cinnamon to the outside of the hive and less liberally to the non-bee sides of the end boards. Today, I noticed a small puddle outside of the hive in the proximity of where the feeder sits inside the hive. Is it leaking? What am I doing wrong? Am I just feeding ants, and not the bees? It doesn’t look like the bees are too interested in the feeder when I looked through the window at 6 p.m. The bees are all clumped up building combs. It is Day 11 since installation and there are 3 large combs and 3 smaller combs being built. I have not yet done a first inspection to find evidence of a healthy queen. I am too worried about ants! Also, I did not purchase the stand. My hive sits on a railroad tie over a cement berm. :o



Thanks for your post. Ants are a problem in any bee hive – regardless of feeders. Where are you located? If the weather is decent and there are other nectar-bearing plants for them to forage on, often the bees will ignore the feeder. If the bees aren’t interested in the feeder then you can remove it.

The feeder (if it’s one of our double jar feeders) should sit on the bottom of the top bar hive. Due to the way it’s cut, it shouldn’t sit flush with the bottom and bees should be able to move under it to feed. I’ve not had any leak unless they weren’t standing level, or if the lid wasn’t on tight enough. Maybe this is the issue.

To keep ants out of the hive you can coat your stand with Vaseline. Or if the infestation is too bad, you can use tanglefoot. It can be purchased at most garden stores.




Thanks Matt. Everything is blooming in Camarillo and my hive is in our avocado orchard (75 trees). It’s in the 70s. I think I will remove the feeder. This will allow me to check out whether the cap was screwed on correctly. I will also give Vaseline and/or Tanglefoot a try. Thanks again. Loving our Top Bar Hive!


This is my first year beekeeping and I have 1 Warre hive and 1 top bar hive at my home (and 2 Langstroth at my place of employment). I’m concerned that the bees in the TBH are not eating the sugar water we have put out for them. We have an internal, inverted mason jar type feeder in the TBH, placed behind one of the follower boards. The bees seem to be completely ignoring it so I’m looking for alternate methods of feeding them during the spring and again in the fall. I’m in the Pacific Northwest, and while there are many plants and trees blooming right now, it will continue to be cool and cloudy well into June. The bees are very busy and are definitely making comb, although since I just installed them a week ago, I’ve not yet checked to see if there is brood. I’m not inclined to place a feeder outside of the hive, and am wondering if anyone has had luck with internal feeders, using dry sugar, or the plastic baggie method with a TBH. Thank you!



You may want to try putting the feeder on the side of the follower with the bees and trail a bit of syrup to it. Sometimes this will get them to take it more eagerly. Otherwise, if they aren’t taking it they may not want it.

I definitely wouldn’t use a feeder outside the hive. Inverted jars and baggies work great. Dry sugar is generally only used in a winter emergency.