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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?
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.