Albuquerque Beekeepers

Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.

what is your recommended method of feeding bees in the spring with a top bar hive?


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There are many ways to feed bees in top bar hives.  It all depends on how the hive was made, how many combs there are, and other things.  I have hives that were designed like TJ Carr's hives that can take a boardman feeder in the end of the hive.  That can be very convenient.  If there is space, I have a follower bar with a notch at the bottom for a boardman feeder.  You can just put the feeder into the hive if you want, and if there is space.  If there is space you can just put a jar or small bucket of syrup into the hive with chips or packing peanuts to give the bees a place to land.  You can put in a plate with honey or syrup on it if there is enough space below the combs.  If you have old honey that you don't want you can just throw a gob into the hive.  You can also make feeders that are suspended from bars.  In some of my hives the roof of the hive is an inch above the top bars.  I made a feeder that went between the top bars and sat on top of the bars.  This was designed for fondant or pollen patties.

I prefer not to feed at all if possible.  If you have a new package, you will want to feed, but there is plenty of space in the hive .  Just put a boardman feeder, a jar or a bucket inside your hive away from the entrance.  If you just use an open jar or bucket, be sure to include something the bees can land and walk on to prevent as much drowning as possible.


Hi Ted! I have another question about feeding. I have new bees as of three weeks ago. All seems well. I have been feeding them inside the hive on the back side of a follower board that has a hole in it. ... recently I moved their feeder to outside the hive, kind of nearish the hive but in the shade...When should I stop feeding them? They will eat a LOT of sugar water if I let them but shouldnt they be getting fed elsewhere...there are Honey Locust trees pollinating right now as well as Russian Olive and the neighbors have  a jillion flowers...Thanks for your help so far! No problems when I got in there and inspected the new combs by the way.

I would think there is enough food around.  You probably don't want to put a feeder outside the hive.  It will attract other bees from the neighborhood and could lead to robbing of your hives.  You should be able to see if they are bringing in stores, pollen especially.  If they are, you probably don't need to feed them.  We are in the middle of a strong honey flow, it appears, right now.  Usually they say to feed until they quit taking it.  Why did you take the feeder out of the hive?


I thought it might be leaking and wanted to see if thats why it emptied so fast. It was not. I can refill it and put it back in. They did not appear to want to stop taking it. When we checked the hive last week it looked like they were storing pollen. Their hive is right near the trees and we are quite near the local ditch. I didnt give them sugar water today but thinking of putting it back in if you think its smart. Can it hurt?

Can't hurt.

Thanks...I worried about them and put the jar back but will not fill it up so much.

Great info. Thank you Ted

You could always split the difference.  I used a smaller jar, was usually gone by mid-day.  After that they had to look some where else till the next morning.

Hi beekeepers, 

As we get are at the end of the year and it's been so warm, I'm wondering whether any of you TB keepers are planning to feed in early January?

Is that early enough?  I fear they will run out with this crazy weather.


Hi Anita,

Her is some food for thought! 

If their in a Top Bar I would not feed internally for couple of reasons, out of fear moisture buildup in the hive with the freeze thaw cycles we see here in NM ,and i would prefer not to break their propolis hive seal. Iif they had poor stores they could need feed, I suspect large Italian colonies are more at risk to starvation, since they tend to overwinter large colonies and can consume their reserves before nectar and pollen flow freely, If you don't have other hives nearby an external community feeder might help, or an entrance type feeder if your top bar allows, Avoid feeding protein (pollen patties) this time of year as it may encourage premature raising of brood and further stress their honey reserves before Spring arrives. In my opinion an entrance feeder is risky and might encourage robbing. but community feeders can also attract a lot of curious bees and wasps, so it should be placed a distance from your hive and out of direct view of your hive. Remove the feeder when its over 45 F. and bring it in when the temp drops below 45 F. Community feeders can create a lot of traffic so be thoughtful about its placement, a community feeder can also be a source or opportunity for disease or parasite exchange.  !!


Just remember the final frost comes around April.


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