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Rapid Feeder: Human Error

A hard lesson I would like to share with you.

When I did my site inspection a couple of weeks ago I was shocked to see a large number of bees floating in the rapid feeder.  The lid was still on the feeder and the inner-cup was still on.  But the lid of the feeder was slightly skew and at that time the crown board still had an open hole.

The bees had come-up from the crown board and climbed-up the exterior of the rapid feeder and entered the feeder through the slight gap in the skewed lid.  The bees were attracted to the syrup and drowned in the process.

In this situation, it was a case of rescuing any bees I could and removing the feeder from the hive to dispose of the dead bodies and syrup.  A  new feeder replaced it later.

I have also had ants visit my feeder as well.

ants!

Moral of the story:

Once you have finished topping-up the rapid feeder be mindful to give the lid a firm push.  Simple as that!

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12 thoughts on “Rapid Feeder: Human Error

  1. Oh that is just awful. That happened to me when feeding outside the hives, easily hundreds dead. It’s always good to share our mistakes, it’s how we all learn.

  2. Thank you for sharing this story, because it can happen so easily with rapid feeders. As Emily says above, we put a small brick on our feeders for a while, although no one would believe that we had very strong bees!

    Even without getting the lid off, bees do sometimes fall into the syrup from inside the cup and drown. We fish them out and then throw away the syrup to replace it with fresh syrup. This is because when a bee dies it regurgitates its stomach contents, which often contain nosema spores, and contaminates the syrup. The other bees continue to drink up the syrup and the nosema spores and in this way help spread nosema around the hive.

    Andy Pedley at our apiary has a plastic food bag technique that he swears is full-proof for feeding bees syrup without drowning them. We haven’t tried it yet, but if we do I’ll post a step by step! Sorry about all your bees :(

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