As we get into the dearth, it is important to evaluate your colony space, size, and health and take extra precautions when feeding and inspecting. As flowers dwindle, you may see surrounding bee colonies checking your colony out as a food source.
Once the honey flow is over, make sure you take some time to evaluate your colony space. Smaller populations within a colony may need to be addressed. You always want your bees in an area that they can defend – this defense is against ants, small hive beetles, moths, mice, other honey bees, etc. The point is – it doesn’t matter what they’re defending from, it matters that they can control the space they’ve got. There’s a fine line that is walked around the time that honey bees are growing and bringing in a lot of nectar – you need to make sure that you pay attention to what is going on inside and outside of your hive.
Make sure your apiary is clean from sugar water, loose honey, and even wax as it can promote and alert surrounding colonies to your apiary as a food source. Once they lock onto your area as a food source, you may find that they can take advantage of weaker colonies in your apiary and rob and loot your hive.
A few tips to prevent and avoid robbing during the dearth times:
1) Feed one, feed all. Even if it is just a short squirt of syrup, it will distract everyone.
2) Feed in the evening. That way if they do get excited, sundown is coming soon that will make everyone go home. You may want to take a peak the next morning to make sure they aren’t getting back at it.
3) Be in and out, quick. If you are like me, and move a bit slower, maybe don’t feed and inspect at the same time if you can help it.
4) Keep a jug of water close by. If you spill anything, wash it off fast.