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Author Topic: Ants In Hive  (Read 9413 times)
anket
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« on: July 17, 2008, 08:00:26 PM »

Hello all,

I am new here, and this is my first summer of keeping bees. There are a few questions I have about controlling pests - ants in particular.

For a few months now, I have noticed an increase in the number of ants around the hive. Initially, there was just a trickle. Today, I noticed that there is a fair amount of traffic around the hive. The ants are rather small, which makes me wonder if they are too small for the bees to do anything about.

What is the safest way to control the ants that will avoid harming the bees? I thought of using Terro as bait, but I am concerned about the possible unintended consequences. I mean, the bees might eat the bait as well, thereby killing the hive.

Suggestions?
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annette
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2008, 08:54:28 PM »

If they are just around the hive I would not worry. It is common for ants to patrol around looking for dead bees or other stuff that falls from the hive.

If they are actually crawling up the side of the supers into the hive, well it depends.  If it looks like a lot of ants, you need to do something to stop them. A few ants here or there will not upset anything inside a strong hive.

I use cinnamon powder which I sprinkle around the feet of the hive stand and it works really well for me. Other beeks here will have more advice on what they use.

Annette
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johnnybigfish
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2008, 08:57:47 PM »

 I get the little ants that go into my feeders. So far they arent fire ants.
 If the ants get to be alot more I'll carefully spray around the legs of the stands where they start to march up. The fire ants are my biggest worry though. I havent had them in my hives yet but I know that they will probably be alot worse than the ants i have now!

your friend,
john
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anket
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2008, 10:51:23 PM »

Thanks for the feedback.

Annette, it is exactly as you described it - the ants are crawling up the side of the super to get into the hive. They are quite identical to the ones I saw indoors a few weeks ago prior to the Terro treatment. I am quite surprised that they are able to get into the hive at all; for several weeks now, there are bees hanging around the exterior of the super, just under the lid that covers the hive. My guess is that they are sealing up the lid with propolis (which makes me wonder how the ants can get through...)

I will look into the cinnamon treatment you mentioned. The hive stand is set up not on a deck or concrete slab, but on the lawn; but I wonder if sprinkling the cinnamon directly on the ground will work.

How exactly do you apply the cinnamon?
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indypartridge
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2008, 07:10:40 AM »

First, Hello and welcome to the forum! Glad you found us. This is a good place to learn more about bees and beekeeping.

Second, please update your profile to include your location. Much of beekeeping is "location-specific", so knowing where you are will help us provide you with better answers.

Third, I use the 'search' function a lot. Very often I find that my question has been discussed before, and I can get an immediate answer. If you search on 'ants' you'll find several threads with ideas.

Fourth, as others have mentioned, ants and hives tend to go hand in hand. Usually it's not a big deal, but again, that can depend on your location and what kind of ants you're dealing with. I'd recommend that you avoid using any kind of insecticide around your hives.

Lastly, annette has had success with cinnamon. I haven't. Maybe it's the kind of ants; maybe it's how much to use; who knows. The point is that with beekeeping, you often have to try different things and find out what works for you.

Good Luck!
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Amanda
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2008, 07:50:23 AM »

My hives are set on cement blocks that are turned on end.  The cement blocks are set in a large terra cotta saucer (the kind that you put a plant pot on).  The saucer is then filled with oil, the idea being that the ants will have to travel through the oil before they can reach any part of the hive.  This is my first year beekeeping, so I'm not sure how well it works, but we haven't seen any ants.  A few bees have fallen into the oil and died, but not many.
~Amanda
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annette
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2008, 01:23:21 PM »

I just sprinkle the cinnamon powder all around the legs of the hive stand, making sure it is thick enough that the ants cannot walk through it.

It does depend on your location and what type of ants. We do not get any rain all summer, so once I apply this I usually do not have to reapply unless we get a good wind storm going.

I find that the ants are usually there in the Spring time, but not the summer. I guess the population builds up in the hive enough to keep them away. Also if I am feeding I usually have ants going up the supers to get to the sugar syrup, but not to get into the hives.

If you are having trouble, keep asking until the problem is  solved.

Annette
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johnnybigfish
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2008, 08:17:38 PM »

 Heres a thought to ponder..
  Maybe ants are good sometimes for bees.
 They are full of formic acid!
 Now, remind me, what is formic acid used for in a bee hive...Mites?..I know Ive seen it prescribed for something.
your friend,
john
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anket
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2008, 10:42:11 AM »

Many thanks for all the feedback!

indypartridge, I am from the Tidewater area in Virginia. My profile has been updated to reflect that. In my initial post, I forgot to mention that I searched the forums for answers before I posted. I will definitely keep that in mind going forward.

John, the formic acid bit was rather interesting! That's the first time I have heard of that! I decided to do some research on the matter, and found out that ants do secrete the chemical during bites. They apparently use it as a defensive mechanism, but I am unclear about how that is done.

Amanda, that's a rather novel idea! Do you use cooking or motor oil? It seems that approach could also be useful in controlling the pesky Small Hive Beetles I came across last Spring; I understand that they fall to the ground and burrow into the earth to pupate. If they were to fall into the oil, perhaps that would help keep their population down?

Annette, thanks again for the reply. I will see if I can modify your approach for my environment. We have a very high water table around here; in fact, there are times where water pools around me while standing in the back yard! I will see if placing the hive stand on a mat and sprinkling cinnamon on that will work. As indypartridge suggested, I may have to combine solutions - oil bath on cinnamon-covered mat perhaps?

Thanks again!
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qa33010
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« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2008, 11:36:49 PM »

    I have had success with mineral oil (FGMO) the kind that we use for laxative and what not.  I just smear a film around the hive body with my finger and it stops them cold.  Normally I only have to renew when we get a hard rain.  I have cinder blocks so I don't smear it on stand legs.  The bees stay away from it and the ants stay away from the bees.  Only had an ant problem with one hive this year.  Had being the operative word.  Good luck. 

     When we are in drought season I use cinnamon around the ground also.
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SgtMaj
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« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2008, 01:14:14 AM »

Sounds like you have sugar ants that are taking some of your honey...  and let me tell you, if they have that great food source always handy, their population will explode, then you'll have tons more sugar ants that will farm aphids on your veggies and ruin your crops!  Stop them now, and have no mercy on those little devils!  If your hive is on cynder blocks, you can soak the base (bottom few inches) of the cynder blocks in motor oil, give it enough time to really soak in.  It's not exactly environmentally friendly, but it works, and as long as you gave it enough time to soak in good, will last all year and then some (just like an oil spill on the driveway lasts and lasts, and bugs won't cross it for years).
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pdmattox
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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2008, 08:43:03 PM »

Not sure about using motor oil. the problem with the oil is when it rains the oil will run out of the container and needs to be refilled. Cinnamon will do the job but will have to be renewed after a rain as well. Strong hives should keep them at bay,stressed hives will have a ant problem.
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anket
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2008, 09:07:57 PM »

I'm not sure what happened, but it looks like the ants decided to pack up and leave. Not a trace of them in sight! The hive is rather strong; it seems like I have about five supers full of bees. I hope it is like pdmattox suggested i.e. the hive is strong enough to keep the pesky ants at bay.

Thanks again, all!
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SgtMaj
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2008, 09:11:45 PM »

Either that or they moved in under your carpet... Had that happen this year in my office... a little bleach in the steam cleaner took care of them though.
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pbaumeister
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« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2008, 01:30:41 PM »

Try placing the bee hive on a table that has each leg in a can of oil. Make sure that there is at least 1/2 inch of space between leg and outside of rim or the ants will form a bridge and go across. Also, if you do not cover the cans nearest the entrance, you will have 100's drown in the oil. So, you need to place some hardware cloth or screen above the cans and not touching the cans. The screen will wrap around the leg, so that when a bee falls he bounces off the screen and not into the can of oil. I have used this method and have retained everyone of my hives.
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mathispollenators
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« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2008, 07:11:54 AM »

Don't know if this will help but here is what I do camping.  When we go camping I put grease around the pinic table legs to keep ants off it.  Grease a ring around each leg and they can't get through it to the food on the table.  The thick grease sticks and I don't have to do it more than once.  If you have hives on a stand with legs it may work for you too.
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pbaumeister
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« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2008, 11:54:44 AM »

How long does the grease work for?
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« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2008, 05:30:13 PM »

grease it once for the weekend not again
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ArmucheeBee
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« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2008, 03:10:55 PM »

I have a metal plant stand for my hives.  the legs are in tin cans of used motor oil but only about 1/2 inch of oil.  When it rains the rain stays on top of the oil and runs out.  We have fire ants and this stopped them.  Cinnamon gets pretty expensive if you get alot of rain.  Pesticides are out of the question with my bees.  Used oil is toxic enough and bees do not like the smell when I pour it in the can.  they come out to investigate.  I think just water would be fine in the cans.  I want to be a natural as possible.
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Greg Peck
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« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2008, 04:06:50 PM »

If you have a black walnut tree near by strip some leaves off a branch and put them on top of the inner cover under the outer cover. An older beekeep told me this and it has worked for me.
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