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Bumble Bee feeder

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I’d thought I’d show people my feeder that I’m testing this year. Bought from ebay, it’s actually a Hummingbird feeder.
They are expensive to buy compared to a similar quality bird feeder over here as they’re imported in small amounts from America/Brazil but as you make the food yourself then it probably works out cheaper in the long run.

The wasps were the first to find it, which I am a little worried about but at the moment they’re only coming in small numbers, I think I’ll take it down later in the year as it’s more to help the early bumbles when there’s not many flowers about.

All the parts come apart for cleaning (which needs doing every few days to stop the syrup fermenting/going mouldy). I just put a small amount in and wash/refill every few days.

I noticed my first couple of bee visitors this morning

     

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Total Posts: 17

Joined 2012-05-24

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It wouldn’t let me add both pics in one post

     
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Now that is good fun. As you’ll know, both pollen and nectar are needed for colony growth, but this will give queens an energy boost as they look for good nectar stores.

Important to use a 50:50 sugar:water mix rather than dilute honey. Honey can contain diseases which bumblebees can the contract or spread.

Would be great if you could post details of where these can be ordered from.

     
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Joined 2012-05-25

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That’s great! My little boys and I made a DIY bee feeder last year from a plastic bottle with little holes in it filled with sugar water, cotton wool stuffed in the holes and some bright “petals” around the cotton wool. It did attract some bees, but soon the wasps homed in on it and we ended up having to take it down. It’d be great if there was some way to make it unattractive to wasps! (Ideas anyone…??)

Do let us know how you get on with your feeder as we’d definitely give one a try if it continues to attract the bees, (and not particularly the wasps). smile

     
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I got mine from Ebay  where they have a few designs. If anyone wants to try them, I’d say go for one that has the drip tray at the bottom as that’s where they tend to feed from normally.

I use a mix of half a cup of white sugar disolved in a half cup of boiling water then left to cool. At the start I just put an inch in the feeder and left the rest in the fridge but I’ve now got a lot of visitors so I’ve started putting it all in at once.

To start with I only had a couple of Tree bees and wasps visiting but now the rain has come back I’ve got a near constant stream of bees. The Tree bees can be a little aggressive to the other bees and each other, jumping on them and knocking them off but they generally just then go to one of the other sides.  They will also do this to the wasps who generally then just fly off.

I watched it for ages last night and in that time must have had about at least 30 visits from bumble bees and only one wasp so at the moment it’s doing ok. I also don’t have many honey bees near me. If they find it then I can imagine a lot of them would be pretty scary.

So far I think I’ve had hypnorum/pratorum/terrestris and a possible hortorum visit.

     

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Just ordered one… I will experiment in my garden in Scotland and report back.

Sadly ebay didn’t have the option for “please donate an extra £1 to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust”. Might have to work on that…

Ben

     
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I’ve just done a short video of the bees feeding

Bees on bee feeder

     
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Loved the karate-kicking big fella & the little guy that was taking none of his nonsense! LOL

     
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Great idea Kate, thanks for sharing. smile

I’ve just had a quick trawl through ebay international and there are hundreds. Have you a link to your particular one? I rather feel, given it’s bees and not Hummingbirds we are attracting, that the imitation flower colours could play a part in attracting the bees (just a guess, someone yell at me if that isn’t not the case).

While searching I came across these two Hummingbird feeders from a UK supplier (CJ Wildlife, we have bought most of our flotilla of bird feeders from these folk). They don’t show on their UK site but I guess they could get them:

Droll Yankee Hummingbird Feeder H-8

Droll Yankee Hummingbird Feeder L-F

Ron

     
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Hi Kate,

I’ve seen the photos and just watched the video - and am most impressed.  Well done !

But here are two ideas you might be worth your while considering to use to make it easier for the bees and yourself .....

1. The bees seem to be having a hard time to grip on the surface of the plastic petals.  You should be able to make it easier for their feet to grip if you lightly abraded the petal surface with sandpaper.  (It will probably look a bit scratched afterwards.)

2. In beekeeping an author called Manley (Beekeeping in Britain, 1948, page 269) suggested that if a few parts per million of a chemical called Thymol was added to bee feeding syrup, it would stop the syrup fermenting.  I’ve tried this and it works pretty well and honey bees take the treated syrup without any concern. 

Thymol occurs naturally in Thyme plants and Thyme honey - at low levels.
 
Since thymol is the active chemical in a good many commercial Mouthwashes (eg. Colgate Plax) you should be able to prevent the syrup you are feeding to the bees fermenting (recognised by a boozy smell and in bad cases bubbles of CO2 produced),  by adding a few drops of Mouthwash to the syrup when it has been freshly made !
Then you should be able to go much longer between “throw-out and wash-up” sessions.
I would suggest adding the mouthwash dropwise, shaking or stirring as you go: and probably at a final level strong enough to give the blend a faint odour and taste of Mouthwash. 
If it still ferments, try adding a bit more !

The bees shouldn’t mind, since the syrup will have more of a taste to them - and it will make it easier for them to reognise where the syrup was collected from. 

Yours

Clive

     
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This is the seller on ebay but the feeder I got seems to be out of stock at the moment

http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Kinky-Octopus-Fashion-and-Footwear/Butterfly-Bee-Feeders-/_i.html?_fsub=2293932012&_sid=178574312&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

Those other two look interesting but while searching for mine, I went for the design that the Americans complained about for attracting insects. I think the yellow colour is a main attractant for them, as is having bee friendly flowers nearby. As soon as the comfrey next to the feeder stopped flowering, there was a massive drop in bees coming to visit.

Ron - 06 July 2012 02:05 PM

Great idea Kate, thanks for sharing. smile

I’ve just had a quick trawl through ebay international and there are hundreds. Have you a link to your particular one? I rather feel, given it’s bees and not Hummingbirds we are attracting, that the imitation flower colours could play a part in attracting the bees (just a guess, someone yell at me if that isn’t not the case).

While searching I came across these two Hummingbird feeders from a UK supplier (CJ Wildlife, we have bought most of our flotilla of bird feeders from these folk). They don’t show on their UK site but I guess they could get them:

Droll Yankee Hummingbird Feeder H-8

Droll Yankee Hummingbird Feeder L-F

Ron

     
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Hi, thanks for the ideas there. I will have a go at giving the flowers a quick sand and see if it makes a difference.

Thymol is a very interesting idea and would certainly be good to try. The main problem at the moment I’m having is ants. They climb down the wire that it’s hanging from the tree by, climb in through the holes in the centre of the flowers and drown. So I’m having to clean it out regularly just to get rid of the bodies!

Clive - 06 July 2012 07:05 PM

Hi Kate,

I’ve seen the photos and just watched the video - and am most impressed.  Well done !

But here are two ideas you might be worth your while considering to use to make it easier for the bees and yourself .....

1. The bees seem to be having a hard time to grip on the surface of the plastic petals.  You should be able to make it easier for their feet to grip if you lightly abraded the petal surface with sandpaper.  (It will probably look a bit scratched afterwards.)

2. In beekeeping an author called Manley (Beekeeping in Britain, 1948, page 269) suggested that if a few parts per million of a chemical called Thymol was added to bee feeding syrup, it would stop the syrup fermenting.  I’ve tried this and it works pretty well and honey bees take the treated syrup without any concern. 

Thymol occurs naturally in Thyme plants and Thyme honey - at low levels.
 
Since thymol is the active chemical in a good many commercial Mouthwashes (eg. Colgate Plax) you should be able to prevent the syrup you are feeding to the bees fermenting (recognised by a boozy smell and in bad cases bubbles of CO2 produced),  by adding a few drops of Mouthwash to the syrup when it has been freshly made !
Then you should be able to go much longer between “throw-out and wash-up” sessions.
I would suggest adding the mouthwash dropwise, shaking or stirring as you go: and probably at a final level strong enough to give the blend a faint odour and taste of Mouthwash. 
If it still ferments, try adding a bit more !

The bees shouldn’t mind, since the syrup will have more of a taste to them - and it will make it easier for them to reognise where the syrup was collected from. 

Yours

Clive

     
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Hi again Kate,

Ants are a well known problem for beekeepers, particularly in the tropics. 
I think the usual recommendation is to isolate the hive by standing it’s ‘hive stand’ (ie support structure) in containers of oil or water - with the idea that the ants won’t cross the liquid.

I’ll have a look in my bee-books to see if there might be any other approaches and get back to you in due course.

But to fly a kite with a zany idea, I wonder what would happen if you were to wind a barrier a few cm long of PTFE tape around the ant’s approach route well before the feeder.  PTFE is extremely slippery and maybe the ants would drop off when they tried walking on it !

PTFE Tape is readily available on reels, as an ~1 cm wide white ribbon (incredibly thin) that plumbers and DIY folk can use to wind round threaded joints and so seal the joint.  It is quite cheap and usually comes on white plastic spools with an outer cover. 

Have a look in your family (or someone else who is into it) DIY kit and see if you can find any, then try it out !

Clive

     
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Kate, I read recently that ants can be “dealt with!” by smearing vicks vapour rub on the hanger. So from the hook of your feeder all the way down to the top of the feeder itself. Good luck!
I recently bought a butterfly feeder. Then much to my disgust & annoyance, when I got it, it says “to exclude bees!!”  I’m trying to over-come this. Let us know if the vicks works. smile