We’ve had our new package of bees for over a month now and they’re doing wonderful! We gave them a headstart by leaving the comb from the old hive in tact on the frames, so all they had to do was clean things up a bit and start capping honey.
We checked on them last weekend and realized that they needed the next brooder box.
We like to gradually increase the size of our hive because it puts less stress on the bees trying to heat/cool a hive that is too large for the colony. But this also means that we need to keep up with the hive’s growth so they don’t over grow the current box and decide to swarm.
Everything was looking well. The bees were building new comb and filling it with nectar. They were making honey and there were young bees present. We were very encouraged!
They also have stopped drinking the sugar water we’ve been providing as a supplemental food source until they were able to get their stores up. This is another good sign that our hive is healthy and doing well.
The bees are not the only thing doing well in our hive. This ant colony has been with us since we first started beekeeping several years ago. They don’t seem to disturb the hive, they stay tucked up under the lid where the gap is too small for the bees to reach. But they are relentless, and I’m sure they’re stealing honey.
Each time we open the hive we brush the ants and eggs away, clean the lid completely of them, and the next time we open the hive…they’re back. You’d think with us disturbing the nest so often and so completely that they’d get the hint, but they haven’t.
This year the ant colony was larger than it’s ever been. Which was frustrating because we built a hive stand this year hoping that it would deter crawling insects. But it didn’t.
But thanks to our wonderful readers I have many natural solutions to try to remedy our ant problem.
I posted this photo on the Iron Oak Farm Facebook Page and many of our beekeeping followers were more than willing to share how they keep ants out of their hives.
Here are 4 natural ways to keep ants out of your hive:
Mint is a plant that I’m always looking for ways to use. One can only drink so many Mojitos (or can they?…) and the stuff grows like crazy! I was excited to hear that one of our readers planted mint all around her beehives. Not only does the essential oil drive away crawling insects, but bees seem to love the blossoms if you let it flower.
If you can’t plant a bed of mint, then one reader suggested bruising some mint leaves and placing them in the lid of the hive where the ants congregate.
Ants evidently hate cinnamon. Again, readers suggested sprinkling cinnamon in the lid of the hive box or in a circle around the hive.
One reader suggested spreading Petroleum Jelly on the legs of the hive stand. The goopy consistency makes it impossible for ants to crawl through. This makes perfect sense to me because we use Petroleum Jelly on our chicken’s legs to prevent Scaly Leg Mite. It’s the same idea. The mites can’t crawl through the Jelly and they suffocate.
Petroleum Jelly is also somewhat water resistant so this application would have staying power.
Building a Bee Stand
While it doesn’t keep ants out completely on its own, it does help the administration of deterrents for crawling insects in that it only has two entrance spots (each leg). So instead of sprinkling cinnamon around a whole square of beehives, you can simply encircle the two legs that the stand is sitting on, and the same with the petroleum jelly.
Click here for instructions on how to build your own stand. Building a Beehive Stand
Ant in the hive is an interesting conundrum because you have to target crawling insects specifically. Bees are insects too, so something that drives away insects “in general” may also drive away the bees.
I plan on trying a combination of these methods against the ant colony the next time we open our hive. I’ll let you know in a future post what seemed to be the most effective method.
Have you had a problem with ants in your hive? What did you do to eliminate them? Share by leaving a comment below, or visit the Keeping Backyard Bees Facebook Page.