How to use a baggie feeder
A baggie feeder is nothing more than a 3-inch deep super—a perfect tool for the hobbyist. You can buy them, build them, or slice an existing super into several layers. Each feeder will hold two 1-gallon plastic zip bags of sugar syrup. If you prefer, you can use just one bag of syrup and use the remaining space for pollen patties, grease patties, or whatever else you like to feed your bees.
Done correctly, the syrup won’t leak out of the bags. Bags should be filled only about two-thirds full. Just hold the bag upright by propping it in a deep bowl or pan and fill with cooled syrup. At this point you can add any supplements you want, such as Honey-B-Healthy or essential oils. Then carefully squeeze out most of the remaining air and close the zip top. Make sure the bag is zipped all the way to the ends.
Handle these bags carefully. If you squeeze or drop one . . . what a mess! I usually make several and place them side-by-side in a bucket. When you go to your hives, remember to bring a sharp blade or box cutter. I also carry a roll of duct tape in case of a pin-hole leak.
The hardest part of the entire process is placing the bag on top of the upper frame of bees. Once you remove the covers, the bees will flow out between the frames. Brushing them away may help, but I usually hold the bag over the bees, lower it till it touches the frames and slowly lower it more until it’s lying on its side. If you go slowly, the bees will move out of the way as it comes down.
Once it’s in place, you can slit the top. Some people make an “X” but I like three parallel lines about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. It seems like all the syrup might flow out, but it doesn’t. The plastic just floats on the surface and the bees line up at the slits and draw out the syrup. Somehow, they get every last drop out of the bags. After years of doing this, it still surprises me to see the totally empty bags.
The thing to remember is this: don’t cut too deep or you will slit the bottom as well. Be careful because the syrup will find its way through the tiniest nick. Also, don’t forget to install the feeder frame before you replace the covers.
The bags are good because they keep mold away from the syrup, they prevent bees from drowning, and the warmth from the cluster keeps the syrup from freezing. When the bags are empty, just throw them away. I’ve heard of people re-filling them, but I’ve never tried.