Here's a homemade bucket bee feeder I made to feed the honeybees sugar syrup. Watch the video and then step through the photos below.
I like the bucket bee feeder because you can feed the bees sugar syrup in the early spring and fall without having to open up the beehive. Our other sugar feeder videos all involve opening up the hive to feed the bees. This doesn't.
The downside is if the weather is wet or cold or both, the bees wont fly and can't get to this feeder. So I will use a combination of hive sugar feeders and this outdoor feeder.
Couple of tips when making the bucket bee feeder:
- Be sure to buy a food grade bucket with a gasket ring that seals the lid.
- Don't drill holes where the handles meet the bucket.
- Fewer holes might be better.
- The bucket must be level when inverted.
You may have to shop around to find a bucket with the support ring that we will use as the feeder. This ring is for a person to be able to handle the bucket better with their hands, but when the bucket is inverted, the spaces under the ring make for great sugar cups.
I found that a 5/64" drill bit worked well for me. Several people have suggested, after watching the video, that fewer holes would keep the sugar syrup from overflowing as much when its first turned over. With fewer holes, one would drill or cut through the walls between the spaces to allow the syrup to fill the ring. I'll have to experiment with this. Let me know if you do as well.
If you accidentally drill in to the ring cavity where there handle attaches to the bucket, like I did, you can glue the hole shut. Silicon caulk works, or some plastic glue.
When you first flip over the bucket, some syrup will pour out. It will slowly stop. If it doesn't stop, the drilled holes are too big, or the gasket isn't sealing.Be sure the bucket is level, or the syrup will flow out.
As suggested by a viewer, test this out with plain water first. I used a 1:1 sugar syrup solution with some essential oil mix added with the feeder. Here is a homemade essential oil mix. I now buy a commercial essential oil mix from a beekeeping supplier, its just easier for the small amount I use every year.
Bees will find that feeder whether or not it's nearby their entrance. They go by smell, not sight. They are so nearsighted, they can't see that bucket until they get right on it anyway, even if it's in front of their entrance. You are taking a big robbing risk, especially if there isn't nectar coming in. If I were you, I'd put it much further away from both hives. It's going to attract bees from a long way away.