|Polystyrene National Feeders|
They're made from pretty dense expanded polystyrene so should last a long time, however they do need painting inside to stop the syrup working it's way between the polystyrene beads and painting on the outside because ultraviolet light will damage them -yep they need protecting from sunlight. The transparent acrylic piece in the middle limits the bees access to the syrup chambers to prevent droving and the chambers themselves have sloped floors towards the centre so every last drop will be available to the bees.
|The Polystyrene National Feeder doesn't fit under a wooden National roof.|
|Cut down to something approaching National Specification|
|Sand in my paint|
After making sure each feeder would fit under my roof I resumed painting. I sealed the reservoir insides with 4 coats of paint. I gave the bit in the middle which the bees are going to be walking on a coat of sharp sand mixed with paint then another couple of coats without sand over that. The uneven surface cause by the sand should give the bees something to grip on and reduce drownings. The outside got a few coats of Sandtex Masonry Paint which is also water based. It only took one and a half test pots. I opted for Olive Green to match most of my kit but I'm sure the bees won't care. With all the painting done I had another look at the acrylic inserts. They were a very snug fit in their slots and I felt they would probably cut into the paint so using a Dremmel I trimmed the length a little and smoothed off the edges and rounded the corners.
|Modified but finally ready Polystyrene Feeders|
Last year one of my colonies came out of winter with Nosema and had to be treated and another local beekeeper who knows more about bees than me said he'd lost 5 colonies to Nosema over the winter. To hopefully avoid or at least reduce that I decided to treat the syrup with oxalic acid. Beekeepers call it Thymolated Syrup ('thymolated' relating to Thyme). The recipe is over in the Beekeeping Forum. Basically you make a solution of Oxalic Acid and add it to the syrup. The recipe calls for 30g of Oxalic Acid Dihydride to be dissolved in 150ml of isopropyl alcohol. Some people use rubbing alcohol or surgical spirit one chap said he used vodka. I opted for vodka too as it's food safe unlike rubbing alcohol so may be slightly better for the bees -the alcohol will be evaporated off when it's used but rubbing alcohol contains other ingredients to make it less palatable which I suspect may be left behind in the final syrup albeit in small quantities.
|Making up the oxalic acid solution|
Previously I'd made syrup in a big pan, it was slow and took lots of stirring. With so many hives to feed I needed a different approach and instead used my Burco Boiler and a paint stirrer stuck in a drill. Took very little time. You do need to be careful with hot syrup though as it stays hot for a long time and is really sticky so there's a lot of scope for nasty accidents. I found that local wasps were pretty interested in what I was doing as well and kept landing on the boiler. I over filled my 18 litre boiler twice and made more than enough syrup to fill all my feeders. I added the oxalic acid solution whilst it was still hot and gave it a god stir with the drill. With the solution added the syrup slightly changed colour and opacity.
|For the ladies I recommend the Thymolated 2:1 Syrup.|
Putting the feeders on the hives and filling them with syrup it wasn't long before the bees were filling up and taking it down into the brood boxes. I think they took the first 2 gallons in just 2 or three days. I've got bulk feeders on 6 hives and the moment and the last has a couple of contact feeders which I'm refilling at the moment.
|Looks like a tiny leaky in the wood|
This afternoon I noticed a little congregation on the outside of one of my wooden feeders.I popped on my jacket and veil and went to investigate. They were quite intent on one particular point on the feeder wall. It looks like there's a very tiny leak through a knot hole so I'll be having a closer look at that feeder once the bees are finished with it. The polystyrene hives were quite a pain to resize but they work very well. When I've been to refill them I'm finding the reserviours completely dry thanks to their sloping floors, and I gather that if they're used with their corresponding polystyrene roofs they can be used as winter insulation -although they need a strap to hold them in place. However in the meantime I'll be sticking to wooden components in the main.