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New Colony Feeding


Hello Matt,

I got your top bar hive for Christmas and am in the process of buying a starter colony. Here in New York my cherry, pear,and apple trees are just blooming. I’m pretty sure I have to feed the bees. Can I place a very shallow dish in the bottom of the hive box? I would put a good length of twine in the dish so the bees could have a place to sit .

Also I have heard to put a few drops of lemongrass oil near the enterance as this encourages the bees to stay. Is the sugar water a 1 to 1 ratio?

I am so excited about bee culture. This is my first attempt and I don’t even care if I don’t get any honey. I am reading all I can about bees and they are fasinating creatures.

I have a bee keeper in the area who sets up 20 - 30 hives in my back pastures every year for the goldenrod and clover. My one topbar will be about 1/4 mile away from his bees. Will there be any interference?

Be Blessed,

Helen S.



Thanks for your post. I do not recommend a dish, or any sort of device that holds water in which bees can drown. They are very good at killing themselves in the shallowest amounts of water! I highly recommend a bucket feeder, or jar-type feeder that has tiny holes in the bottom from which the bees can feed. We sell them (http://www.beethinking.com/double-jar-feeder), or you can make one by taking a couple mason jars, poking tiny holes in their lids and filling the jars with syrup (1 to 1 is used in the spring, 2-1 in the fall, though it doesn’t matter that much). Once you’ve got your jars full, simply get a couple sticks upon which they can sit (holes down). They’ll basically look like jars on skis in the bottom of the hive. This way the bees can move under the jars to feed and they will be unable to drown! You can monitor through the window to see how much feed they’ve taken and refill accordingly.

Lemongrass isn’t necessary in a hive if you’ve populated it with a swarm or a package. If you were trying to attract a swarm to the empty hive you’d want to put a couple drops of lemongrass oil just inside the entrance.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the other bees. Your single hive will probably do fine finding forage. Just watch for robbing in the summer!




I have a few questions about building your own feeder as you described. Specifically, how many tiny holes would be enough? Is there any concern about the syrup draining out? Also, what is the purpose of the wire mesh that are on your feeders? Thanks!