Intro: Entrance Bee Feeder
In order to develop a strong colony of bees they need to be fed sugar syrup. One of the most convenient ways to feed them sugar syrup is using an entrance feeder. It allows you to easily monitor the level of the Syrup and makes it convenient to refill without opening up the hive. I have been using entrance feeders on my hives with good success this year. This Instructable will guide you through the process to build an entrance feeder.
Step 1: Make the Side Frame Boards
Cut two boards to the dimensions shown in the sketch. I used 3/4 Oak because that is what I had laying around. You can use whatever material you might have handy. I used a Dado blade to cut the steps on the board as shown in the pictures. This could also be carefully cut out using a hand saw. Use whatever works well for you. These dimensions fit nicely into the entrance of my beehives.
Step 2: Cut and Measure the Sheet Metal
Cut a piece of sheet metal 4 1/2 inches by 14 inches. I used 28 gauge galvanized sheet metal. Make a line 1/4", 31/32" and 1 9/16" from one end. (See the picture above) I usually file all sharp edges smooth at this time. I use a file and Scotch Brite to smooth the cut edges. You may also want to use gloves to handle the sheet metal because the edges can be sharp.
Step 3: Bend the Entrance Profile
Using a pair of Duck Billed Vice Grips or sheet metal pliers, bend the profile for the entrance. Start at the line that is 1 9/16" and bend it at a right angle. Make the bends a few degrees at a time since the pliers are narrower than the sheet metal. When you get the first bend made, move the pliers to the 31/32" line and bend it at a right angle to the first bend making a step using the same technique. Then make the last bend on the 1/4" line using the same technique as before. When you are finished, it should fit nicely on to the entrance profile of the board.
Step 4: Make the First Closing Bend
With the side frame board pushed up against the entrance profile bend in the sheet metal, make a mark on the sheet metal showing where the rear of the side frame board is. Do this on each side of the sheet metal. Then draw a line between the two marks and this will be where you will need to make your first bend to close in the feeder. I sued a piece of steel bar and clamped it on my line to a metal table. Then I bent the sheet metal up 90 degrees. I took a hammer to tap along the bend line to make a nice square corner. This completes the first bend.
Step 5: Make the Second Closing Bend
Again you have to hold the side frame board in place and make a mark on the sheet metal to indicate where the bend line should be. (Do this on both left and right side of the sheet metal). Draw a line between these two marks and clamp it to the table with a steel bar along the bend line. A good piece of would could be used in place of the steel bar. Bend the sheet metal up 90 degrees and tap with a hammer to make a nice square bend. When finished, the sheet metal should fit nicely around the side frame board.
Step 6: Mark and Cut Circle
Lay out a jar lid on the top of the feeder. Locate the center of it approximately 2 /2" from the closed end of the feeder and centered side to side. Mark around the lid and drill a 3/4" hole inside the mark. I used a step drill bit. I then took a sheet metal shears and carefully cut a spiral shape to the line. I did this in order to get a smoother cut.I also found by cutting small increments, the cut came out smoother. Take a half round file to smooth up the cut edge. Keep checking the fit of the lid until it fits freely inside the hole and does not fall through. A Dremel can also be used to smooth up the hole. A hole saw can also be used to cut the hole if you have one the correct size. At this time make sure all sharp edges are filed and then smoothed with Scotch Brite.
Step 7: Assemble the Parts
I used a drill to make a 1/16 hole through the sheet metal to make it easier to nail through. I used 5/8" long #18 wire nails. Put at least 3 nails in each board on the top of the feeder and 4 in each board on the bottom of the feeder. I used a pair of needle nosed pliers to hold the nails until they were started good into the wooden boards.
Step 8: Finished Product
The mason jar lids have a series of holes in them for the bees to draw the syrup through. You can buy them commercially or make one yourself. Mine have 19 holes 0.040 inches in diameter. I have seen commercial ones have up to 32 holes and others argue you only need 2 or 3 holes. All I know is this pattern of 19 works well for me. Fill the Jar, invert it on the feeder and suction will keep the fluid inside the jar. The bees draw it out through the holes. Some folks use a small nail to make the holes. It is important to make a small hole and keep them as close as you can to the same size. Good luck!