I’ve wrote about the hive top feeders with a ladder in them on my hive pages. I said I would post pictures when I could. So here you go. This is based on the “Fat bee man” Don Kuchenmeister’s (please excuse any spelling error there) design for his no-drown feeder.
I originally built this so that you could easily remove the top flap of screen to be able to flip it over and dump out any dead bees. What I have observed is that very few bees drown. In fact the only bees that I’ve had die were because I filled up the feeder to fast. The other thing that I noted is that the other bees will clean them out on their own. So my advise is if you try to build this style feeder (and I highly recommend doing so) just close up the top. The bees will take care of it. I also smashed a few to many bees before I taped the top down.
Here is the other style I’m using. This one holds quite a lot more sugar syrup and gives the bees access the their entire domain. I have less ant invasions with this style.
It is as simple as it looks. Just upside down mason jars with holes drilled in the lid. Use the smallest drill bit in your set. I have one with 5 holes and one with 10 holes. I’ve noticed little to no difference. If you fill the mason jar nearly to the brim. A small amount of sugar water leaks out when you first flip it over and then it air locks. Meaning the bees have only a small mess to clean up then they have to go up to the holes and suck it out.
Update: just for the record these top feeders work well. They simply do not hold enough syrup for a full strength colony.