Ants in the Beehive

Not too long ago we received a question from a follower about ants.  Big or small ants are usually dealt with by a strong hive, but in the spring or when a hive is weak your bees might not be able to fight off the little pests.

So what to do?  As we all know insecticides aren’t great at being picky.  Ant killers will kill bees too if they bees come in contact with them.  But fortunately for us there are other options that work pretty well.

I first came across the ant problem with my bait hive.  Set out next to my hive the bait hive had no bees to fight off the ants and thus the ants were having a field day in their nice dry space, fully protected from the elements.  I caught them fairly quickly and cleaned off the equipment but wasn’t sure how to fight them off so I could keep the bait hive out.  For a while I decided to pull down the bait hive.

But of course if you take away one ant home they will simply find another and in this case it was the hive with bees right next door.  I have a top feeder on the box which creates a nice dry space with no bees in it for the ants.  Sure enough a few days later there were lots of ants and ant eggs in the top feeder section of my hive.  Again I cleaned it out but now I needed to find a solution to the problem.

Fortunately there are a number of resources out there including our own forums.  Coffee, cinnamon and a number of other options were listed.  Having no coffee I put cinnamon in the top feeder section of the hive and voila! the ants immediately disappeared.  I’ve had no problems with them since.

Want to read about other options?  Check out this forum thread for some of the many different options available to you.

Have you had problems with ants?  What solution worked for you?  Let us know in the comments below.

Post by Jessica Dally

Photo by Robin Cook

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Sherri says:

Big black ants were visiting to take advantage of sugar water while I was still feeding. Little tiny ants seemed to be taking up residence. Starbucks puts out bags of coffee grounds free for gardeners. I have a nice bag of coffee grounds now and sprinkled it liberally under and around my hive. No ants. Yea! I will make note of the cinnamon option.

Nate says:

When I first noticing ants going into the hive, I couldn’t think of anything anyone had said about this. These are not the varroa mites.
I had some diotomacious earth. It put this around, which seemed to help for a while, but soon, the ants had overcome that and we’re marching in the same as before.
I had some concrete building blocks and a plastic mortar tub. I stacked some blocks inside the tub and set the hive o the blocks, then added water to the tub.
That stopped the ants until I got lazy and left the hose hanging over the rim of the tub. Then the ants used the hose as a superhighway to the hive.
Yes. I have drowned honeybees in the water, but the they seem to be reproducing fast enough to maintain the colony, and with no ants.



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