Virginia's NewBee Blog: Ants?!
Yesterday afternoon I took advantage of the nice (or, more accurately - cooperative) weather and made a visit to my hive.
I set up my new hive equipment to prepare for the next package which we expect this week.
I also took the opportunity to inspect the hive. My husband showed up as I was preparing to inspect the hive and seemed content to watch from afar, until I got the lid off the hive. Then, the curiosity was strong enough that he put on a veil and gloves and came over to inspect with me.
The bees have drawn out additional comb and, despite my notoriously unobservant nature, this time I could see the larva! We found the queen on some freshly drawn comb. Everyone seems happy and thriving. Including ...
As we removed frames, we got a clear sight into the bottom board, which had ANTS. We didn't see them climbing up the hive body any, just walking through the bottom board.
The location we picked for our hives is a great little cove recessed just beyond one of our fields. It's near a creek and we like the spot because it won't get disturbed frequently.
However, part of this 'non-disturbed' atmosphere is that the grass isn't mowed here.
The family is great about making sure there's a path mowed to the hives for me, but generally this area isn't mowed. Which means the remaining grass has become rather high over the past three weeks (the photo below was taken at 2 weeks).
We removed the bottom board and found a significant amount of ants with eggs beneath it on the hive stand. We removed all of these and placed the removable bottom board on the ground as an immediate remedy to prevent weeds from growing up into the screen until we have the opportunity to implement a more permanent solution.
I have done a little research to see what other beekeepers do to prevent ants. I've seen everything from overturned bowls under the hive stand (looks unsteady to me!), to tuna cans filled with oil under the hive legs, to planting mint.
I'm considering doing some kind of stone or mulch under the stand. I'm also considering planting some mint in the area, but due to its invasive nature and resilience, I know it may quickly grow around and under the hives, providing a way for OTHER pests to venture up into the hive.
Have you had ants in your hive? What do you do to manage the problem and prevent future ant visitors?