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Beekeeping: Ant colony in the top bar hive

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ghalsey
Richmond, KY

July 1, 2013
10:28 AM

Post #9581811

Hello, I'm new to bee keeping(2nd yr.) My friend is showing me how to keep bees. This is his first year with a top bar. We have a problem. We have an ant colony that keeps coming back after we brush it out. I've looked for the queen, can't find her. Is there an easy way, that is non-toxic to the bees of course, to get rid of them?
Diana_K
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

July 1, 2013
7:43 PM

Post #9582705

If your hive is on a stand you can make an ant trap.

Here is how we used to do this:

Find 2 cans that are different sizes, and both are larger than the leg of the stand.

Cut some of the bottom out of one can so it will slide up the leg of the stand. If you leave the cut pieces on the can you can use these like nailing flaps. Slide this a few inches up the stand and nail it into place. The opening is down. Sort of like an umbrella.

The smaller can is placed on the ground, and the leg of the stand sits in it. Fill this with oil, soapy water or other ant-discouraging material. Make sure it does not attract the bees or kill them. (no sugar-attractant or poison).
Make sure the 'umbrella' is low enough to keep most of the dust, leaves, dirt and so on from falling into the trap.
A tree product called Tanglefoot can do this. It is sort of like vaseline, but thicker. It stands up to the heat better. You would not need the bottom can, if you used Tanglefoot, but I would still use the 'umbrella' can to keep the Tanglefoot cleaner longer. Each time you visit the colony stir up the Tanglefoot so it stays sticky.

Do this to all the legs of your stand. Make sure there is no other path the ants could use to get to the hive. No branches, no weeds, no anything. Remember that ants can build bridges of their own bodies, or else use their weight to bend over a stalk of grass until it makes a bridge they can walk on to reach the hive.

Then go clean out the colony, removing as many ants as you can.

Also, look to the bees' health. A strong colony can usually defend itself against ants, but not always. Still, it is a sign that the colony might not be as strong as it could be. Do they have a healthy queen? Is she laying lots of eggs? Plenty of young bees coming on?
ghalsey
Richmond, KY

July 2, 2013
8:33 AM

Post #9583266

Thanks Diana, yes its on a stand (4 legs). After i got off of this forum yesterday, i posed the question to the "internet." I learned about cinnamon and pepper and vaseline. I like your idea about an "umbrella" though. I'll look for tanglefoot. Tommorrow i might have some pictures.
ghalsey
Richmond, KY

July 2, 2013
6:14 PM

Post #9583955

Here's the pictures

Thumbnail by ghalsey   Thumbnail by ghalsey   Thumbnail by ghalsey   Thumbnail by ghalsey   
Click an image for an enlarged view.

Diana_K
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

July 2, 2013
11:01 PM

Post #9584266

When the ants are that populous (especially the first picture) the bees can be driven out of the hive. Definitely do all you can to get rid of the ants. Does it look like they are eating honey, pollen, larvae or all 3?
A poison bait that is protein based, located where the bees cannot find it, could kill the ants...
IF they are not actually nesting in the hive
IF they will take the bait. They bring the bait back to their nest.
You certainly do not want the ants bringing poison into the bee hive!

I know this one works well. Be very careful with placement.
http://www.colehardware.com/hotline/96/10/ants.htm
ghalsey
Richmond, KY

July 3, 2013
5:34 AM

Post #9584410

That would work! i mght even be able to lay some on top of the top of the bars and put the lid on. The bees can't get at it and the ants can. Although, it might be best if i staked out the legs, just in case. Thank you for responding.
Diana_K
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

July 4, 2013
3:03 PM

Post #9586831

Stake out the legs. Do not put this inside the colony. Work in the direction of excluding the ants from the colonies, but do the removal from inside the colony by hand. Least toxic method.
ghalsey
Richmond, KY

July 10, 2013
9:34 AM

Post #9594022

I can't tell if the are eating anything. This topbar hive was set out as a trap and it worked. I'm checking them today. It's been 7 days since I put out the stakes.

ghalsey
Richmond, KY

July 12, 2013
4:07 PM

Post #9596791

Ok. Here are some pictures. I applied Vaseline to the legs an added red pepper and cinnamon. Then I opened the top and cleaned out every ant. I put a little cinnamon in the very top, just in case. The bees can't get to it so we'll see what happens!

Thumbnail by ghalsey   Thumbnail by ghalsey   Thumbnail by ghalsey   Thumbnail by ghalsey   
Click an image for an enlarged view.

Diana_K
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

July 13, 2013
6:32 PM

Post #9597958

Clear out the plants around the stand. Looks like in some photos there are some weeds that touch the legs of the stand above the vaseline. Ants will climb up that way.

ghalsey
Richmond, KY

July 25, 2013
3:49 PM

Post #9611836

Still have ants, but much less. I have another problem. the bees aren't taking out the dead bees. I think that's what the ants that are in the hive are living on.

Thumbnail by ghalsey   Thumbnail by ghalsey   Thumbnail by ghalsey   Thumbnail by ghalsey   
Click an image for an enlarged view.

Diana_K
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

July 30, 2013
7:28 PM

Post #9616908

The question might be "Which came first?"
When ants get into a colony, the bees can get sort of frantic, not know what do to, so, do nothing. No house keeping. Population goes down. Maybe they swarm.

If a colony is not doing well they do not defend against the initial visits from the ants, so the ants take over.

Yes, ants will eat pretty much everything in the colony- honey, pollen... and dead bees, both larvae and adults.

Short of going through every frame and removing the ants, then keeping them out I do not know the answer.
ghalsey
Richmond, KY

August 27, 2013
4:05 AM

Post #9642544

I don't have the pictures with me to post but the population hasgone down quite a bit. The ant population has gone down too. I've been quietly looking for the queen ant but i haven't found her yet. When i take apart the topbars the bees get irritated. This is a lured swarm so i hope i can just keep them alive.
Diana_K
Contra Costa County, CA
(Zone 9b)

August 31, 2013
3:40 PM

Post #9647013

Maybe this would work:

Set up another hive that is fully protected from ants. Legs of the stand protected, no branches or grass or weeds to create a bridge.

Set it close to the troubled colony.

Then start going through the ant infested colony, trying to find the queen. Move her to the new colony. The workers should follow her.
If you can rescue any frames of brood or honey, move these over, too, but make sure there are NO ants on them.

Then keep the colony ant-free. As late as it is getting in some areas you may have to feed them, especially if you cannot save any of their honey.
ghalsey
Richmond, KY

September 3, 2013
11:01 AM

Post #9649633

Yeah. I had an idea like that in mind. The top pictured is in need of some design changes so I'm making a new top bar hive and I will use the same dimensions for the bars. The population has diminished quite a bit. I've moved the divider from the "1/3" mark to the "2/3 mark giiving them more room in the box and soon I will put the bottom on. I've already decided to feed them this winter.

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