So, in case you didn't know, spring in Minnesota arrived over a month late this year. I know, I know... You're saying, "Minnesota has spring?" Yes, yes we do. Normally in April. This year we had two winter storm warnings (ended up getting about 6 inches each time) during the first week of May. In fact, the day we got our bee package (May 11) we had some weird snow/sleet stuff falling for a bit. Long story short, I didn't know if I was going to build a feeder or not, but with the late spring and smaller package of bees (our supplier changed every one's 3# package to 2# due to the bee shortages), I decided I had better feed for at least a little while. After doing some research, I thought a jar feeder would be easiest to build and operate. I liked the double jar feeder at Bee Thinking quite a bit and made a quadruple jar feeder based on the pictures at their website. Here's how I made it.
This is a piece of plywood cut to fit inside one of our Warre's boxes. It ended up being not quite square due to the plexi-glass windows inside our boxes. I marked up the edge strips and center where the lath would be, and used a standard mason jar top to trace where the holes would be. Then I used a jig saw to cut them out.
Here are the four holes cut out, with the first layer of lath in place, ready to nail on.
And here it is again with a piece of 1/8th inch hardware cloth attached. I did this to keep the bees from coming up into the box when changing the jars out, and to give them something to hang on to when their upside down beneath the feeders. The hardware cloth was then covered again on the outside with the lath. This was done to give the bees just enough "bee space" underneath the feeder so they wouldn't fill it with comb. FYI- in order to allow them to come up into the feeder, I cut about 2-3 inches off of one end of my top cloth, that way they have about an inch strip along one end where they can come up. When I remove the feeder later this spring, I'll just put a new, full sized top cloth in its place.
Here's the finished product with four jars in place.
And a view from the underside.
So far in the first four and a half days we've had our bees, they've gone through about two and a half jars of sugar/water (50/50 ratio) syrup. I'm not sure how long I'll feed them. At least until the first major bloom which my dad thinks will be the wild plum trees sometime this weekend. After that, I'm not sure how long. I want to give my bees a good start since their numbers are so diminished, but I don't want to keep them from doing their thing naturally either. I'll have to keep you updated on that.