beekeeping equipment

A taylor-made feeder

Beekeepers are creative folks and I always learn something from their ingenious inventions. The feeder below came from Roger Taylor in Gallatin, Tennessee. This feeder is designed to be used with either pollen patties or sugar patties. The bees have the option of climbing through the hardware cloth or crawling over the ends, which means large patties or sheets of fondant won’t block their passage. I asked Roger for details, and this is what he wrote:

The feeder is 16 ¼ inches wide by 19 78 inches long by 3 ½ inches high, and cut from ¾-inch pine. The screen is 19 gauge by ½-inch. The wood cross braces are ¾ inch by 1 inch by 14 ¾ inches long and are placed 3 ½ inches from the outside edge of the box and 18 inch up from the bottom of the box.

The screen is a 12-by-16 inch piece with the ends bent up and stapled to the side of the box, and the screen sides are stapled to the bottom of the cross braces. The top of the box has a ½-inch deep by 1-inch wide entrance for the bees to go in and out.

Six 18-inch by 2-inch trim nails placed ¾ inch from the top of the box support a piece of 58-inch fiber board for moisture control. Fiber board can be purchased at Lowe’s or Home Depot. You can use the box to feed pollen patties or sugar patties or use a pan or tray of various sizes to feed syrup.

Thanks Roger! Very nice.


A pollen patty feast in a homemade feeder. The feeder can also be used for sugar cakes or fondant. © Roger Taylor.


Roger is using a division board feeder for syrup (L) and the hive-top feeder for pollen. You can also see the upper entrance at the front of the hive. © Roger Taylor.


The nails in the sides support a piece of moisture board to control condensation. © Roger Taylor.


Roger with his bees.


From the front (L) and side (R) the feeder looks like any small super or eke. © Roger Taylor.


  • Why are you not leaving enough honey on your bees to winter them, surely the best food for healthy bees is healthy vitamin packed home store?

    • Totty,

      I’m happy to hear your bees have honey. Perhaps you haven’t heard, but large portions of North America experienced severe nectar dearths this year due to extreme temperatures. Personally, I harvested not a single gram of honey and yet my bees have hardly any stores. I have been feeding them last year’s honey, but it won’t last till spring.

      You are advocating I do what? Let them starve? Sounds cruel to me.

  • Thanks for the pictures and directions on how to replicate this. I was a little lucky this year in that out of my two hives, one collected two ten deep frames of honey that I can see, and one collected nothing but dust and died in mid-August. I decided not to take anything from the hive that did produce this year and to provide the hive with sugar just in case. I agree in the fact that we should leave all that we can for the ladies, but we must also assist them in any way we can. To do nothing would be a waste of a life in my opinion.
    As for the post, I like this because I have noticed in the past that the ladies will get a bit testy when you start slapping things on top of the frames. This idea provides them with easy access should they want it and keeps the tops of the frames clear at the same time. Provided you have the materials on hand, I don’t see this taking longer than thirty minutes to put together.
    Thank you!

  • I understand the purist’s wishes to leave enough honey for the bees for the winter, but I am gone for 3-4 months in the winter and have no control over what the weather will be. I look at fondant and pollen patties as insurance until I get back. Not all things are equal all the time!!

    • Hi My name is Tom Allen too and when I read your response seeing my name made me wonder how I replied in when I just started beekeeping this year lol I’m just getting my first box of bees next week and I might make this setup until they can take care of themselves.

      • Tom,

        When I saw your name together with your questions, I was confused too. I have an excellent memory for names and e-mail address and I usually remember them when I see them again.

  • Looks like it would be east to build a drop in quilt, to replace the fiber board?

    I don’t think fiber board is very absorbent nor very porous.

    Of course, if your area has dry winters, then the fiber board could be fine and it can be discarded, if the girls hang brace comb from it.

    You can also buy oiled fiberboard, which they probably can’t attach comb to. You’d have to check to see what oil they use, so you’ll know if it’s bee safe.

  • Again what a timely article! Last year, in west Georgia, there was plenty of rain and the fall nectar flow was plentiful and my bees built a huge stores for the winter. This year just the opposite even with feeding heavily for the months of September and October I have three of my 7 hives that I feel will need to be suplimeted through the winter. These plans are simple yet look to be more than sufficient.

  • I just wanted to confirm that the gentleman in the photo is Roger, looking more like Santa lately, and that the fiber board works great. Quick peek under the lids revealed ice crystals under the edges of some migratory covers but perfectly dry fiber boards. Very inexpensive moisture control solution.

  • Hi Rusty,

    I wanted to thank you for the excellent guidance for wintering over my bees. My mistake in the past was closing down the entrance too far and not allowing them to ventilate to keep the moisture level down. The light came on for me when you said that the colonies know how to keep warm, after all they’ve been surviving winters for a long time. Both my hives were flying today, the first 55 degree day in mid-March in Western Oregon with snow still on the ground.

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