I've been a backyard beekeeper for eight years, and over that time I've experimented with different types of hive designs including Horizontal Top Bar, Warré, and the foundationless Langstroth. I've made plenty of mistakes over the years, mostly of the 'killing with kindness' variety, but gradually I've learned to let the bees do what they've been doing pretty well for 130,000,000 years. As much as possible, I try to lightly manage them in order to split strong colonies in spring to increase the number of hives I keep and harvest surplus honey. In my experience the Warré style of top bar hive has had the most success with over-wintering colonies, but I continue to experiment and learn.
While I generally don't feed established colonies, there are three conditions when I do feed:
I've tried a lot of different methods for feeding over the years, but the best I've found yet is the hive-top feeder detailed in this Instructable.
In my experience, what I like about this design compared to other internal hive feeding methods:
Construction is fairly simple with basic woodworking tools and skills. The dimensions in this Instructable are for my Warré hive, but with some modification it can easily be adapted a Langstroth hive - I use both sizes myself.
There's a lot of room for flexibility in this design, but following are the materials I used for my Warré feeder:
Sugar Syrup (the reason to build this in the first place)
My Warré hive dimensions vary somewhat due to differing lumber dimensions as I've built them (1" vs. 4/4 rough). I now use only 4/4 for my boxes as it tends to be less expensive than finished (planed) pine and offers more insulation value. The most important thing is to measure your hive boxes to get the overall feeder dimensions that work for you.