I have 3 hives on a stand and a few feet away from them, 2 quart jars of syrup on a tree stump. I also have a wild bee colony about 100 yards away. I've noticed a large amount of bees from that bee tree coming to get my syrup - almost a majority of the syrup drinkers are from that tree. Just watching the syrup jars for a minute I see a lot more bees flying back to the tree than to any of my hives. My bees seem to be foregoing the syrup and flying elsewhere.
Anyway, I'm sure my bees are still utilizing the syrup to some extent so I don't want to stop feeding completely, as I've just started my bees this spring. However, I can't be here to check on the quantities and refill the minute it runs out. I'm wondering what would happen if the syrup ran out for a few days, would the wild bees go to rob my hives, since the hives are just a few feet away from those syrup jars?
I did also see a few wasps at the feeders. I'm considering installing robbing screens prophilactically - since it doesn't seem to be a problem yet. Should I move the feeders further away from my hives meanwhile? I've heard of setting up mock feeders or something as well.
On a different note, I've heard of a good method to get your bees used to drinking out of your chosen source of water by first beginning with filling up feeders with syrup and then slowly reducing the sugar until there isn't any, and they'll still come to drink it - only now for the water.
Open feeding is an open invitation for robbing. Why not just feed your hives inside, if they need it? With a wild colony nearby, and presumably 2016-started colonies of your own that are smaller and weaker, robber screens are a must, in my opinion.
Right now when we still have a reasonable natural flow going on, you may not be seeing problems. But that will change in a few weeks, after basswood and sumac taper off.
Get ahead of these issues by feeding only your hives, and protecting them from feral bee-visits. Doing so is important for more than just the damage that loss of stores causes. Reducing the amount of interaction between your bees and the feral colony will protect them from constant re-infestation from mites.
I'm north of Albany, and my robbing screens will go on in the next two weeks on all my colonies, both the ones that are four and five deeps high and those that were started as nucs just a month ago. And I always take great pains to avoid any open or spilled feed or honey in my yard, having seen the problems it creates. I think this particularly so in warm weather when bees can easily fly a mile or two to find chow. There are half a dozen long-standing, feral locations within that range from my bees, not to mention other beekeepers' managed colonies, too.
I make a big effort to maintain an orderly, calm beeyard. Better for the bees, and easier for me.
Get a frame feeder if your going to feed. Cut up wine corks and put them in the 2" diameter holes. This will prevent the bees from drowning. Sometime you get a mess of bees that are wanting to clog that feeding tube. You never have to worry about robbing, filling it up a few times a day. Just fill it up and 3 to 7 days do it again if you need to.
Im in Texas and Dearths happen from August until the end of October. Those are the times I try and feed if I have any bee hives that need build up continuation. I've only seen 1 nectar flow in 1 year of bee keeping. It's awesome! Every frame was heavy and full! I only have 1 bee hive that is 3 stack. My Nuc box is new and the other bee hive I started in Feb. They're on the 2nd box.
I don't plan on harvesting any honey because 2 of the hives are nucs I purchased a few months ago that were recently raided by a bear, so they are making a recovery, and the third is a swarm I caught. I thought I should feed because I want to give them a good chance at survival through this coming winter. If you guys think that feeding isn't necessary then maybe I should stop altogether.
I will definitely install robbing screens tonight.
I thought I read somewhere that feeding inside the hive top of frame/through the inner cover method are worse for robbing because robbers would go into the entrance and access not only the syrup but the honey stores as well? I figured if I left the feeders outside, about 5 feet away from my hives, then everyone can access them as they want, and the robbers wouldn't be getting too close to my hives.
P.S. just witnessed that bee tree near my property swarm into a ball high up in the tree. Heard a loud buzzing and just followed it. They were all flying to gather onto that ball at the moment. Right now they're balled up, in the scouting phase I guess. I have my 5 traps out, waiting patiently.. They must've swarmed from all that syrup I've been feeding for the last few weeks....good.
hive should be able to defend it's entrance against robbers. When i need to feed i use a chicken feeder with rocks in the trough inside a hive body to cover it up. i put it right onto the frames (i use a migratory top not inner cover/telescoping combo)