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Open feeding is a topic that comes up often on the online forums.I had doubts about it's effectiveness since I have witnessed the drowning of countless bees over the years. A post by Cleo Hogan, and a description of his method,got me interested since my colony numbers had grown beyond the number to feed individually.Imagine my surprise when his method worked to perfection with very few dead bees at the end of the day. He fed his bees in an old fashioned "hog trough" that all of us older folks,who grew up in farming country,are familiar with. The sloping sides and rough lumber were the key.He also mentioned that when the feed was exhausted the bees would clean up their sisters so almost all would make it back to the hive. Here is a picture of the feeder in action.

and one more showing the bees just finding the trough in early morning.I mix the feed directly in the trough.Pour in sugar to about the halfway point then fill with SLIGHTLY warm water and stir. I come back a couple of times during the day and add water.If you work away from home then you would want to mix with less sugar so that you would not need to add water.

At the end of the day there are never more than a half dozen dead bees in the bottom of the trough. Many times that number would be lost foraging.The one exception is if a sudden downpour occurs.Then the mortality rate goes up but still stays at an acceptable level. Again,many more would be lost in the field in case of a hard downpour.

Again,my colony numbers have grown so I needed to make another "trough".I decided to take a few pictures as I went along. Of course the trough is so simple that instructions aren't really needed but these may help a little.First,I use cedar fence boards from one of the big box stores.Do not make the mistake of using treated lumber for this project. The cedar boards are untreated and they are rough lumber. This feeder uses only two fence boards so the cost is negligible. First,cut off the little "dog ear decoration at the top of each board.

Discard these or save for a little cedar flavor in your next barbeque.

Now make a mark at one foot from the end and cut this off both boards.These pieces will be your ends.Keep these cuts square.

Now take one of the end pieces and use it to set the rip fence on your saw.Rip this width off the side of one of your long boards and save the piece for a float in the middle of your trough. Cut 1 inch off this "float" piece so it can move freely on the liquid.Taking the cut off the side will allow both sides of the trough to be even when you join them together.

All that's left is joining the pieces together.Put the two pieces that form the "V" together first.Make sure the ends are even. I use Titebond waterproof glue and either 1 1/4 drywall screws or 1 5/8 drywall nails to fasten them together. After the "V" is together you can stand it on end and fasten the end pieces.Have the top of the end piece even with the top of the "V" on each side.

Keep the feed well away from the bee yard so as not to encourage robbing. If you have a few minutes to spare,sit close to the feeder and entertain yourself killing the few yellow jackets that show up. This feeder is an excellent way to show children and fearful adults that bees are harmless for the most part.You can put your hand in this mass of bees and push them GENTLY around without a problem. Be sure to tell your visitors that bees will occasionally light on them to rest.

One last thing.When not in use for feeding use the trough for a water source.This will keep the boards from drying and shrinking.