How to make a bee feeder
In early spring there are not nearly enough flowers flowering at Humlegård to keep the bees well fed as they come out from winter hibernation. This is not because I haven't thought about it, but because the garden at Humlegård is new and therefore lacking in the abundance of an old garden. At Stensund where I have been gardening for years and years, there are millions of spring bulbs that emerge as soon as the snow melts, ranging from winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) to snowdrops and Siberian squill (Scilla siberica). At that house any newly awakened bee has a whole buffet of food right from the start. Sadly it is not so at Humlegård; no matter how many bulbs I put in each autumn it takes years for them to spread out like a carpet and as yet I find the spring offering meagre to say the least! Bees are generally self sufficient, but as I actively try to encourage the populations of bees and bumblebees I have in my gardens to grow, I add a little something extra for the first few weeks of spring. Then, as soon as my garden plants are flowering, I stop giving extra nutrition and let them get on with it themselves.
Making a bee feeder couldn't be simpler. I usually use one of the many glass jars I have tucked away in the kitchen cupboards, and as long as it has a metal lid it will do. First, make holes in the lid:
Then fill the jar with a mixture of half and half sugar and hot water. You can also use honey or syrup, or a mix of all three. The idea here is to make the "nectar" very sweet and give a maximum amount of energy while at the same time mixing it with water to make it easily dispersed. If it is too filled with syrup and sugar, it tends to clog the holes in the lid and not fill out the underlying tray with liquid gold.
Then place the lid on, shake it well, and place upside down on a plate with gravel or pebbles soaked in water. This year I happened to have clam shells, and as I think they are so pretty I decided to use them instead. The idea is that there should be liquid at the bottom of the plate or bowl but at the same time enough stepping stones so that the insects don't drown even if they get a bit drunk on all the sugar they suddenly get. As you can see below, it didn't take long for my little restaurant to become popular!