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Author Topic: 40% loss :( , ants, boric acid....  (Read 1056 times)
Intheswamp
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« on: February 27, 2013, 11:10:15 AM »

 embarassed  Undecided

Well, I went into the winter with five colonies, I'm down to three.

I lost an external hive that I had placed in a hive box limb and all.  This happened about a month ago.  It consisted of four combs that were average dinner plate size and completely covered with bees.  I fed this colony regularly but when I found it "gone" the syrup jar had probably been empty a couple of days.  There was one (1) dead bee head-in in a cell...maybe a couple of dead bees on the bottom board.  The comb looked pristine.  I had had a running battle with small black ants and I'm not sure if the ants forced the colony out and to their death or not.   Me being a newbee I figured I starved them to death by letting the syrup run dry...but where were all the starved bees?

A colony beside this one ended up being a deadout, also.  This one was a swarm from last season that never did seem to get going good.  The deadout was found during the same inspection as the one above.  This one was a small two medium hive with plenty of honey/syrup from the summer/fall.  There were a couple of handfuls of bees in this one but I think they were remnants of a robbing party being as the honey combs were chewed ragged and lots of chewed wax on the bottom board.  Again...only a few dead bees on the bottom board.  This one, too, had been beleaguered by small black (sugar) ants.

I'm really wondering if the ants did not force the bees out.  They have been extremely bad this winter and my three remaining (stronger) hives are still "under the gun".  A friend of mine who's been beekeeping for over 75 years (yeah, that's right Smiley) told me he'll never poison a fire-ant mound again.  He cleared his yard of fire-ants only to have these small sugar ants invade in force.  He feels that the fire-ants kept these ants in check.   huh

The bad thing is that I know that I contributed to attracting the ants. Sad  Last winter I wrapped the cement blocks on my single over-wintered hive with roofing felt, figuring it would block the wind off of the screened bottom boards.  It worked well, no problems.  I did the same this year but what I found when I got to looking was those xxx ants had build little nests at the bottom edge of the felt.  I'll never wrap the blocks again, if anything I'll just slip a sheet of plywood or something under the bottom boards as a baffle. 

Currently I have boric acid baits under each hive (been there 4-5 days now).  I had some 8oz Glad food containers on hand so I cut several inch long slits in them just under the upper lip where the lid attaches.  I made little flaps out of the slits by cutting upward at the end of the slits and bending the flap upwards and out (helps shed rain water).  Plastic drink bottles would work but I kinda like the rain shedding feature of the lids and flaps.  The openings are very narrow...ants can get in, bees can't.  I've baited this using 1:1 sugar syrup with a couple of tablespoons of sugar dumped in for good measure...added to this is a big, heaping table spoon of boric acid per cup of syrup.  The ants have been working it hard and I *think* I'm seeing fewer ants crawling up the sides and on the inner covers.  I've also tested using some fat (protein) and boric acid but have not seen much activity with that, yet.  I didn't have much fat to work with but the wife cooked some hamburgers the other night and I saved the grease from that and will be making up some more bait traps or adding to the couple I've already put out.  Hopefully these will work on the ant colonies and won't affect the bees.

I'm feeling like a bad beekeeper right now, but hopefully I'm learning where some of the potholes are on this rocky road.

Ed
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American blood spilled to protect the freedom and peace of people all over the world.  320,000 USA casualties in WWI, 1,076,000 USA casualties in WWII, 128,000 USA casualties in the Korean War, 211,000 casualties in the Vietnam "conflict", 57,000 USA casualties in "War on Terror".  Benghazi, Libya, 13 USA casualties. These figures don't include 70,000 MIA.  But, the leaders of one political party of the United States of America continue to make the statement..."What difference does it make?".

"We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism."..."The press is our chief ideological weapon." - Nikita Khrushchev
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2013, 01:18:36 PM »

Hi Ed

There could be another reason for the loss of these colonies.
You describe that most of the bees were gone. That would be typical of CCD, caused by neonicotinoid pesticides.

Please keep an eye on your other colonies, if they dwindle away, too, then it's probably down to CCD.

Anyway, healthy colonies should really be able to defend themselves against ants. But under the influence of these neurotoxic pesticides the defensive behavior disappears, and the bees can fall prey to any invader as well as fungal infections etc.


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hardwood
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2013, 01:43:32 PM »

Ants are real pests down here. They will start with one hive and move to the next then the next. I've lost many hives to them. Mostly carpenter ants and fire ants but the little black pismyers too.

Scott
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"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907
little john
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2013, 01:48:41 PM »

I don't have an ant problem myself, but one of the best solutions I've heard for dealing with 'em is to use hive stands with legs, and then place each leg into a tin can or something similar. Then just keep the cans topped-up with a liquid - oil, water, anything like that.  If I ever do get this problem, that's what I'll try first.

LJ
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2013, 02:33:43 PM »

Strom, I understand your concern with neonicotinoids but my concerns at present are basic "kill you now" pesticides.  Last year I was enlightened about a feral colony about a mile from my house.  It was a BIG, strong colony of bees.  I got permission to set out swarm traps on the property.  Sadly I did not catch a swarm before the property owner called to tell me the bees were dead.  Apparently, the farmer had sprayed a pesticide on the field of peanuts beside the property where the feral colony was located.  I will keep my eyes on the hives.   Wink

Scott, I made a quick check of the three remaining hives this morning and except for some dead ants inside the bait containers I did not see any ant movement.  We had torrential rains Monday night, followed by a sunny day Tuesday, and a cool Tuesday night though the temperature was around 58F when I checked them.  Seems the ants would be moving strong if they were there.  I'm not getting to hyped up over this as I may get home this evening and the ants have the hives wrapped up but I'm cautiously thinking the boric acid may be putting a hurt on the ants.

LJ, the moat idea seems good but I think would be too problematical especially if someone has several hives to protect.  I've also read that the ants will eventually bridge the moat with an "ant bridge".  Keeping rainwater out of the moat is a problem, too.  I've got this tucked away in the back of my mind...who knows what I'll end up resorting to? Smiley

Thanks for the feedback, I'll post future updates regarding the bait traps.

Ed
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American blood spilled to protect the freedom and peace of people all over the world.  320,000 USA casualties in WWI, 1,076,000 USA casualties in WWII, 128,000 USA casualties in the Korean War, 211,000 casualties in the Vietnam "conflict", 57,000 USA casualties in "War on Terror".  Benghazi, Libya, 13 USA casualties. These figures don't include 70,000 MIA.  But, the leaders of one political party of the United States of America continue to make the statement..."What difference does it make?".

"We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism."..."The press is our chief ideological weapon." - Nikita Khrushchev
hardwood
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2013, 04:39:06 PM »

LJ, that "moat" system works well from what I've heard but I keep my hives on 4-way pallets for easy relocation.

We just sent a load of hives to Calif. for the almond pollination and the hives, pallets and all have to be absolutely clean of ants, spiders and any other critters that might be a threat to any of the states that they travel through. Ants especially. The Inspector places chunks of spam (the potted meat product) around the hives in the holding yard and waits 30mins or so to see if it attracts any ants at all before he'll certify the load.

Scott
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"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907
Stromnessbees
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2013, 07:11:02 PM »

Whilst travelling in Africa I saw some very vicious ant colonies, often not far from beehives.
But in general the bees were able to fend them off, as long as the colony was healthy.

Termites were considered a greater thread, as they destroy the wood of the hive.

By the way, do you know that there's a simple organic way of dealing with an ant colony?

 http://youtu.be/s9SMrkQYfV4

 cheesy
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Bee Curious
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2013, 09:11:51 PM »

Last spring, we had the weirdest weather here in the Chicago area.  We had a heat wave of days in the 70's and 80's in a month where the temp should have been in the 40's.  I enjoyed working in my garden in 80 degree weather, but for the first time ever, my house was invaded by small black ants.  They came through the weep holes in the storm windows, they came in any little crack they could find. 

I tried ground cinammon to repel them and it had some effect.  Bay leaves did too, but what really got rid of them was puffing lines of diatomaceous earth on the window and door sills, inside and out.  I got it in the 'organic' section of the plant care/fertilizer chemicals at Home Depot or Lowe's.  I put it in a plastic squirt bottle like this:



It worked well, but needs to be reapplied after rain. 
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Joe D
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2013, 09:58:52 PM »

Ed, we had our monthly bee meeting last saturday night.  An old commerical beek said he had lost several hives over the winter to the black ants.  Sorry to hear about yours.




Joe
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10framer
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2013, 10:32:57 PM »

LJ, that "moat" system works well from what I've heard but I keep my hives on 4-way pallets for easy relocation.

We just sent a load of hives to Calif. for the almond pollination and the hives, pallets and all have to be absolutely clean of ants, spiders and any other critters that might be a threat to any of the states that they travel through. Ants especially. The Inspector places chunks of spam (the potted meat product) around the hives in the holding yard and waits 30mins or so to see if it attracts any ants at all before he'll certify the load.

Scott

scott how do you guys get the bees across  the alabama state line?  i thought that was illegal.
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hardwood
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2013, 11:07:31 PM »

It's not illegal to transport through Alabama if they've been inspected, just can't stop there. I can sell bees (queens and packages) in Alabama but can't sell nucs or anything with brood/comb.

Scott
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"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

Theodore Roosevelt 1907
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2013, 08:48:47 AM »

I have not had a problem with the sugar ants, but I have had horrible difficulties with fire ant last year.  I believe my total losses were 15 colonies to those monsters.  I used plastic containers under the legs of my hive stands, my first mistake was to use vegetable oil in them.  The ants just consumed the oil and I feel they laughed at me.  Next I got angry and filled them with used motor oil.  Now that worked until the buggers made bridges with cut grass. 
Further up the leg of the stand I used a product called tangle foot, it is used to keep birds from landing on things you do not them on.  I would have to make a complete ring around the leg to keep the ants at bay.  Those turds were smart enough to use grass or the fellow colony mates to create a bridge and cross it.
So now its full on war, if I find a mound I will pour a few gallons of boiling water on them.  I have applying amdro like a mad hatter to try and keep their numbers down before it really warms up for us.  I will also employ the boric acid and sugar water to work as bait stations.  Where do you find the boric acid?
Good luck with you ant problem and you have to get em under control, I am a close hippie and all but I have to do what ever I can to protect my colonies!

Jason
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2013, 10:22:32 AM »

Howdy Joe.  Yeah, the ants were a real pain.  I wish I had started using the boric acid earlier.  I had treated the surrounding area with Amdro (picked up some containers of Amdro on clearance at Lowes that had the labels falling off for $1.29 each!)  But, it didn't seem to bother the little ants attacking my colonies.  If the dosage of BA was correct they've been getting their fill because they've certainly been hitting the bait.  Hopefully it this will cause the demise of the ant colonies.  I will probably be keeping the BA bait out from now on.  I've had reports from beeks smarter and more experienced than I am that state it does work.  We shall see. Wink

Jason, I tried the boiling water treatment several years ago...I even added hot pepper to it.  To a degree (what a pun!  grin ) it worked.  The problem, I think with the boiling water is that I dont' have the ability to boil and pour at one time enough water to decimate the fire ant colony.  The way I know it didn't work completely was that I would see a large pile of dead ants at the top of the mound the next day...other ants had to have hauled them to the surface which meant there were live ants still there.  They would simply build back there or move over a few feet with a new mound.  What would creep me out would be to pour a couple of gallons on a mound, the water would disappear into the mound (not run off to the side), and around 30 seconds later you would hear something like the last sounds of water draining from a bathtub....those colonies go DEEP!!!!  I've got a bag of
Talstar PL Granules Insecticide that I'm going to put around the bee yard in a couple of weeks.  It was recommended by a fellow beekeeper that is also a pest-control guy and a person that I trust greatly.

I bought the boric acid at Walmart...."Enoz" brand with the name of "Roach Away".  One-pound white opaque plastic bottle in the roach/bug poison section.  Cost $3-$4.  A pound should make up LOTS of bait stations.  Says 99% boric acid on it.  You can find it at lots of "dollar stores", too.   I understand where you're coming from on taking care of your hives...I don't want to throw a bunch of poison/chemicals around, but I also have no intention of investing time and money only to feed the blasted ants...no matter how organic they are!  Wink  Fifteen hives lost!!???...I can really understand your desire to crush the tiny beasties dust!

Ed
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www.beeweather.com 
American blood spilled to protect the freedom and peace of people all over the world.  320,000 USA casualties in WWI, 1,076,000 USA casualties in WWII, 128,000 USA casualties in the Korean War, 211,000 casualties in the Vietnam "conflict", 57,000 USA casualties in "War on Terror".  Benghazi, Libya, 13 USA casualties. These figures don't include 70,000 MIA.  But, the leaders of one political party of the United States of America continue to make the statement..."What difference does it make?".

"We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism."..."The press is our chief ideological weapon." - Nikita Khrushchev
Joe D
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« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2013, 10:36:13 AM »

I have my bees on a concrete slab.  There is a water facet, I wash the slab down every couple of weeks.  I spray a diesel strip about a foot around the slab.  I have very little ant problem so far anyway, knock on wood.  When I had them on dirt I did have stand legs in buckets with water, helped a little, but still got up there.
Good luck with the ants.




Joe
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2013, 11:08:32 AM »

That sounds like a good setup, Joe.  Almost a scorched earth policy. Wink  For folks that don't have to deal with fire ants they can't understand why people have to go to such extremes to combat them...these are not the sweet little ants that grandmother had when she was a kid, that's for sure!

I was looking around and came up with this ant ID guide.  It's from Bayer (we'll overlook that), but it's pretty good.  Figured I'd post it here in case somebody's trying to figure out what they're dealing with.  http://www.backedbybayer.com/system/product_guide/asset_file/3/Ant-ID-Guide.pdf

Best wishes,
Ed
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www.beeweather.com 
American blood spilled to protect the freedom and peace of people all over the world.  320,000 USA casualties in WWI, 1,076,000 USA casualties in WWII, 128,000 USA casualties in the Korean War, 211,000 casualties in the Vietnam "conflict", 57,000 USA casualties in "War on Terror".  Benghazi, Libya, 13 USA casualties. These figures don't include 70,000 MIA.  But, the leaders of one political party of the United States of America continue to make the statement..."What difference does it make?".

"We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism."..."The press is our chief ideological weapon." - Nikita Khrushchev
swflcpl
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« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2013, 04:41:40 PM »

First time attempting to watch over some bees. We're in SW Florida here and definitely have lots of ants. I'm going to try the moat theory with my hive setups. You can follow our story and see pics/info at the blog in the signature.





http://hotrockacreshomestead.wordpress.com
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Beeboy01
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« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2013, 07:21:48 PM »

I'm starting my second year of war with the big red carpenter ants here in Florida. I lost three nice nucs along with the queens last year because of ants. One nuc, my strongest was destroyed in one night and had the bottom board almost an inch deep with dead bees and ants, must of been an epic battle. I found the main ant colony about 40 feet from my yard and took it out with some Sevin dust.  Still had small ant colonies appear between the inner and outer cover all last summer. That made the bees real aggressive because as soon as I popped the outer cover of a hive the ants would run down the front and get the bees real excited, picked up a lot of stings last year because of ants. Every swarm I caught absconded from my yard, looking back it was probably due to ants also. This year I'm setting up a pallet on legs that will sit in cut down gallon containers filled with water to keep the little beggers out of my nucs. Going to lay roofing shingles under the pallet to keep grass and weed from growing so the ants won't have a bridge to get up to the nucs. I'm also spreading Amdro and other ant poisons around the perimeter of the bee yard. I hate using poisons but hate loosing my bees even more.   
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