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  1. #1
    A Devries Guest

    Question

    I have two hives that are still getting established both have miller type feeders on them. I also have ants,large black ones about 3/8 of an inch long. That are living between the innner cover and the outer cover. The space is too small for the bees to enter and the ants just fit. Is this something to worry about? The ants aren't entering the hive but they are able to get to the feeder. Once the feeder empties the ants and the bees will meet. If it comes down to a fight between the bees and the ants I expect the bees will win because of numbers but those ants look like fighters

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    1

    Post

    I am very new to beekeeping, but I was told that ants will bite the legs off of bees and due to their (the ants) armour, there is very little the bees can do to protect themselves or their honey supplies.
    We "antproofed" our hive by slipping sheetmetal under the hive support and trimming away all weeds or "bridges" to the hive. I also sprinkled borax on the ground under the hive to discourage them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,386

    Post

    If you have very agressive ants they can be a problem. The "fire" ants in the south can be a real problem. I see the big black ones all the time. You say they are "living" on the inner cover. Are there eggs? Larva? or just ants? If it's just ants, they aren't living there. The inner cover should be with the thicker side up to provide a bee space in the space between the cover and inner cover. If so the bees should be able to run the ants off. If not then, you are correct, they can't. The 3/8" wide space should be up.

    If there are a lot of ants I would take steps to control them. One option is track them back to their hill and destroy the ant hill. Another is to use boric acid on the ants outside and cover their trail back to their hill with the boric acid. If you search on "ants" on this site you will get lots of discussions on how to control ants.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    ATL, GA, USA
    Posts
    70

    Post

    That is what I see as the major drawback of those top hive feeders, not necessarily because of ants (which are often a benefit) but becase of other pests, like SHBs. I like using the ziplock bag approach because the bees can protect the entire hive. I understand that those top hive feeders provide the benefit of easier feeding for the keeper, but I personally believe that convenience comes at the price of attracting all kind of pests to come in an unprotected part of the hive and use it as their own personal sugarland.

    As for ants, I was very annoyed at them at first but have seen them carrying and eating SHB larva around the bottom of my hive stand. Even fire ants are a known cultural aid against SHBs. As a result, I have let them be, and would not recommend going to extremes in attempting to control the ants (which could potentially kill your own bees and poison honey)unless you have a serious problem.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Tecumseh, OK
    Posts
    13

    Post

    Somebody on here, I believe said use cinnamon I tried it and it's working for me.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,386

    Post

    I guess I keep saying it, but if you only have a few ants this is normal. If you see hundreds of ants, I'd worry a bit and try to block their route with boric acid or Baking soda. I haven't tried the cinnamon but several people have suggested that also. If you see ants killing brood and causing havoc, I'd track it to the source and kill the ants. That's what I'd do or not do.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Mason, MI, USA
    Posts
    1,015

    Post

    I sprinkle cinnamon on top of the top cover and around the hives if the ants are bad and they seem to disapear from the hives but the bees are not affected and no taste gets in the honey
    Clint

    ------------------
    Clinton Bemrose
    just South of Lansing Michigan

  8. #8
    A Devries Guest

    Post

    I built my inner covers myself from the plans on this site. The space between the inner cover and the outer cover is 3/16" I will increase this to 3/8 add a little cinnamon and allow the bees at the ants. The ants have eggs on the inner cover which I sweep away when I'm at the hives. Thank you to everyone for their replies.
    Albert

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,386

    Post

    Most inner covers have a 3/8" gap on one side and a 1/8" gap or not gap on the other side. They actually seem to vary a lot. You have to check the space from the top bars to the top to see how you beespace comes out there. Typically the frame rest rabbet is 5/8" deep and that leaves 1/4" beespace (minimum beespace) on top. But with a frame spacer or a frame rests this can get reduced to nothing or 1/8" which is NOT a beespace. I do worry more about the beespace on the top of the bars, but the ideal situation is a beespace on the top of the bars (between not less than 1/4" and no more than 3/8") and a beespace on top of the inner cover so that the bees can patrol the top of the inner cover and chase out ants and roaches etc. Since I screen the openings on my inner covers and do a vent box on top, I have to keep an eye on them because I have had an ant colony move into the inner cover. I've also, when I use plastic screen for the vents, had hornets and paper wasps eat through the plastic screen and build nests in the vent box. But the up side (besides the ventilation) is I don't worry about the beespace on top, just on the bottom. If you get the beespace off on the top bars, they will either fill the it with comb (too large) or propolize the top bars to the inner cover (too small). If you have either of these problems then you need to examine the beespace there. Popsicle sticks can be used to make adjustments and allow some ventilation, but they will propolize the gap this leaves eventually.


  10. #10
    A Devries Guest

    Post

    Just a follow up regarding my ant problem. I added spacers to the top of my inner cover so I have a 3/8" space on top and removed the screen from the miller feeders. I added a piece of wood below the inner cover and the top of the feeder which I cut out the venthole. This closed off the two feed compartments. Now that the bees are at the top of the hive the ants have moved on. No more ants. But it did look like there was a bit of a fight as there was several dead bees. Thanks for all the suggestions from everyone that replied.
    Albert

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