Plastic or Glass

Posted in Bees on November 30th, 2010

Plastic Jars

Now the bees are all in a cluster and I am not spending a lot of time outside, I have turned my attention to maintaining and resupplying equipment. Due to the significant savings of almost 20% for buying bottles in bulk, I wanted to stock up. I have seen lots of different packages of beekeepers selling honey, from canning jars with a hand written label to a designer bottle with custom plastic label. I am currently using plastic bottles with color printed label. I like the plastic bottle because the three bottle sizes use the same lid, have a tamper seal and can be transported without fear of breaking. The bottle is also extremely easy to use. I pop the cap and can squeeze honey directly where I want it, into tea, on cereal, into my recipe, or pan. Honey from glass jars has to be poured or spooned out. It is almost impossible to do this without getting some honey on the side of the bottle or on the counter. On the other hand, honey in glass bottles have a reputation in the bee world for demanding a higher price and wider appeal. My fellow beekeepers turned their noses down bottling in plastic, they said glass was what the people wanted.
I decided to do a little market research by asking my friends who buy local honey. I won’t claim the results are scientific but plastic was preferred overwhelmingly to glass. People just seemed to like the convenience of using a plastic jar. Both types can be recycled and the cost to me (without shipping) is the same.
I took the plunge and ordered a case of plastic jars.



Review of Multi-Duty Hive Top Feeder

Posted in Bee Tools, Bees on November 15th, 2010

Multi-Duty Hive Top Feeder

I was luckily enough to win a Multi-Duty Hive Top Feeder from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm at the MSBA annual meeting.  The idea is the bees crawl up the center and can access the sugar water or pollen without drowning. The feeder  is actually pretty simple to put together and use.

When it arrives you have to cut the gates and plugs out of the feeder before the first use. Use a sharp excato knife and cut slowly. Below is plastic gate and plugs removed.

The plastic gate which is cut out.

The round circles are plugs for the bottom and wide Us are the gates. Brushy recommends not opening up a hole in the bottom as it produces a place to generate leaks.

Small Gates installed

The feeder comes with gates that can be reversed. One side of gate  lets bees access to the holding chamber, the other side of the gate prevents bees from getting into the chamber. The gate on the right has been installed on the small setting. There is no gate installed on the left.  This will allow sugar water in but keep the bees from the chamber. You can see the round circle which can be punched out.

Brushy recommends putting small sticks to help the bees not drown. The sides of the plastic are textured to help the bees climb them. I found you should add the syrup first and then add the sticks. If you add the sticks first they can become stuck in the bottom.

Feeder installed in the hive.

Here the feeder is installed on a hive. The white plastic plug needs to be placed in the opening.

I used the feeder for about a week before the temperatures became too cold and had good success.

Pros:

I found the bees were able to easily access the sugar water. It holds two gallons of sugar water, 1 on each side. It allows you to easily feed the bees without disturbing the hive. This would be beneficial for new packages and requeening.

Cons:

I did find one bee who had drowned in the sugar water. It is also difficult to put the cover onto the feeder and ensure no bees are trapped inside.  Removing the hive when it still contains sugar water can be a bit tricky. You have to make sure to keep it level. Unlike buckets you can not transport the feeder while full.

The feeder clearly works and seems like an improvement over the older styles.  I’m not sure if the feeder is worth $25 compared to normal feeder buckets. The real test will be in the spring to see how quickly mold develops on the sugar water. Brushy claims the plastic will prevent mold from growing.



MSBA 2010 Meeting

Posted in Bees on November 10th, 2010

The MSBA meeting was very successful. Everyone seemed to have good time. MSBA has placed some of the videos online from the meeting. The first video will be of interest to almost anyone keeping bees in 2010. Tony Jadczak compares the 2010 growing season to past years and attempts to predict what spring 2011 will look like.