How to Keep Ants Out of Beehives

How to Keep Ants Out of Beehives

Matthew Davies image of bees and aphids which are both detrimental to bees

Beekeepers like me, Matthew Davies, frequently encounter the challenge of removing ants from their hives. Many rookie beekeepers are alarmed when they see these pests. We are pretty protective of our girls, and our initial instinct is that these guests are causing them damage. They can wreak havoc on the colony at times, but most of the time, they are merely a nuisance. In any case, we don’t want an ant farm within our hives, so what are our options? In most circumstances, seeing a few ants in your hive isn’t cause for alarm. The sweet fragrance of honey or sugar water attracts them. If the population of honeybees is minimal, the colony may overlook them. The majority of the time, this is only an issue if the ant colony can expand. Check with local agricultural organizations to confirm the sorts of ants that live in your area for further information on specific types of ants.

Are ants harmful to beehives?

If you reside in a region where “Argentine Ants” exist, keep an eye out for any issues around your hives. This aggressive ant establishes large colonies. Instead of competing with one another, they band together. Ants in the hive are likely to irritate us more than the honeybees in most circumstances. Earwigs, which are bizarre insects, are the same way. Both are opportunist bugs that cause little harm in most cases.

What causes ants to raid beehives?

What attracts ants to beehives? They need to eat to survive, so they’re seeking a sweet food supply. A honeybee hive is a good source of food. Some ants are omnivorous, which means they eat everything. They also consume brood (developing young bees). A major ant infestation could destabilize the colony to the point where the bees abandon the hive or flee. The ants utilize the honeycomb as their new home after killing the colony. Talk about being impolite!

How many ants in the hive are too many?

Ants are most commonly found between the top and inner covers. If you’re feeding your bees right now, you could notice them on the feeder. We don’t want to have to feed an ant colony on top of feeding bees. Brush away any ants that appear under the hive cover (10-20). Seeing a regular stream of them come and go is cause for concern. It’s also not appropriate if you come upon an ant nest with their eggs in the hive.

Why don’t the bees oust the ants from the hive?

While bees are good at dealing with small groups of intruders, they do have a limit. The bees will not be able to throw out ants crawling about on the comb inside the hive. This indicates that the colony lacks the necessary strength to patrol the honeycomb region. Small colonies are the most vulnerable. For fragile beehives, having to deal with an ant infestation could be the “final straw.”

Ants in Beehives: How to Keep Them Out

There are numerous methods for preventing ants from ruining your colonies. Some include barriers to deter pests and make accessing the hive more complicated than it is worth. However, it is critical to recognize that dealing with ant infestations necessitates some trial and error. What works in one area may not be suitable for your hives.

Maintain a clean bee yard.

In the bee yard, trim the grass and tall weeds. Ant mounds will be easier to spot with a close-cut ground cover. Treat lumps as soon as you notice them. When working with your colonies, try not to throw bits of honeycomb down. This draws a variety of predators and pests in search of a free meal.

Look for an ant killer that isn’t harmful to bees.

Because ants and bees are so closely linked, it’s nearly impossible to discover a pesticide that won’t kill the bees. Spray or powdery products that might drift into the hive or blossoming plants should be handled cautiously. If you see ant colonies in your bee yard, get rid of them. You don’t want such a vast and powerful colony so close by. To get rid of ant mounds near the hives, use a granular ant killer. Although not entirely safe, employing a granular pesticide (rather than a powder) reduces the risk to bees. In order to avoid pesticide particles landing on the hive entrance, read the package carefully for any cautions and spread it gently.

Barriers for Beehive Ants

Planting mint near your hives may help to keep ants away. Keep in mind, though, that most mint cultivars are invasive. Your colonies will appreciate having a bee-friendly herb nearby. Avoid planting anything too near to the hive if you reside in an area where Hive Beetles are a problem. The wetness in the ground will help beetle production, and the tall plants will act as a bridge for crawling insects to access the hive. Another method employed by beekeepers is diatomaceous earth or wood ash to create a barrier on the ground. You must reapply regularly, which can be problematic if your area gets a lot of rain.

Cinnamon is used to keep ants at bay.

Is cinnamon effective at keeping ants out of your hive? I know a lot of beekeepers that swear by ground cinnamon for ant control. Around the hive, dry cinnamon is strewn on the ground. Ants are repulsed by the odor and will avoid the area. After a rain, this must be reapplied. These items should not be kept inside the hive. They have the potential to hurt your honeybees. My hives did not respond to cinnamon; however, you might have better luck in your area.

Utilize a hive stand for your bees.

Using a hive stand is one of the simplest ways to slow down ants and (spare your back). Because ants can crawl practically anyplace, they will continue to infiltrate. A hive that is close to the ground, on the other hand, is ripe for these types of pest problems. You can buy a hive stand or make one out of wood or cement blocks – whatever it takes to get that hive off the ground. A hive stand will also prevent the ant colony from establishing a home immediately beneath the bottom board. Should you find the legs of your hive stand are small enough, you can use a can of vegetable oil to make an “ant-proof hive stand.” This beehive ant moat inhibits hive entrance, but trash and other debris must be managed (Make sure to shield the container in order to protect bees from accessing the hive.). Using something sticky on the legs of the beehive is another approach to keep ants away. Vaseline, tanglefoot, or similar treatment will prevent those legs from becoming an ant highway.

Final recommendations for keeping ants out of beehives.

  • keep an eye on the degree of infestation
  • Keep an eye out for mounds near the hive and treat them
  • on the beehive’s exterior, look for ant trails
  • for mound control, utilize granular insecticides
  • to keep ants away from the hives, put mint near them.
  • DE, Wood Ash, and Cinnamon can be used to construct a ground barrier
  • keep your bee yard neat and tidy
  • erect a platform for the beehive

If you utilize these tactics that I, Matthew Davies, have provided you alone or in combination, you should be able to reduce your ant problems. Ants are an annoyance for most beekeepers, but they aren’t a serious threat to the colony. However, every beekeeper wishes for ants to stay away from the hive!

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