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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    San Jose, California, USA
    Posts
    4

    Exclamation Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    Hi All! Well, I came to find a group of experienced Beeks. I have a natural beehive in my front yard, and it's HUGE! It's underground in the rootball of an 80yr. old olive tree. There's no telling how big it really is, but at night the whole area hums, and you can even feel some vibration if you are barefoot.

    When I was a toddler, my Grandfather sealed the hive, thinking he was protecting me. Fast forward 38 yrs. and the bees have come back. My family understands the importance and current problem with the demise of bee hives, so we are commited to preserving what we have.

    Until now, our biggest problems has been our neighbors, who routinely send "tips" the pest control companies. We're always getting offers to remove or exterminate the bees. The last 3 days, the hive has been under attack by ants, and we're doing our best to help the hive win.

    This is where I'm hoping to get advice, how can you win against ants? If the ants do win, will the techiniques used for beekeeping help us re-populate the hive if all is lost?

    In time I'm sure I'll learn what strain of bees we have. Their color is demure, they tolerate our presence well, but they really hate any light sources at night!

    Thanks for your time, and if you have any solutions for our ant problem, please share! We really want to keep our bees!

    Chris P. in California

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,650

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    Can you provide us with a photo? Typically, honeybees don't nest in the ground. Unless you are very positive that they are honeybees, a photo will help determine if in fact that is what they are. The instructions for image posting are here:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=225753
    Regards, Barry

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    San Jose, California, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    Hi Barry,

    Thanks for responding. I'm sure they are honey bees, but hey, I'm the new guy! I went out and took some photos this morning. I will post them after work when I can set up a flikR account or something.

    Ant update: We tried to make a perimeter around the hive with Orange Oil. It's stemming the flow of ants, but needs to be maintained constantly. We're trying to find that ant bait that the worker ants take back to thier hill and destroys everything.

    The bees are curious about the Orange oil, and sometimes fly right into the stream as I'm spraying. Too bad, becuase the O.I. kills the bee immediately too! I'm being as careful as possible. Chris P.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,235

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    Ant poison:

    1 cup water
    1 cup sugar
    2 tbs boric acid (orchard supply "roach proof" garden dept)

    Mix it up and place in small containers along the ant trails in places unattractive to bees or covered with a screen. Over the long term it will kill the ant nest.

    And yes, in california we do sometimes have honeybees nesting in the ground or low rotten tree trunks.

    Fuzzy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,194

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    Hi Chris,
    That sounds interesting, looking forward to the pictures.
    Dan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    San Jose, California, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    Ant update: Still holding them off with the Orange Oil. This is starting to get expensive! We are doing 4 shifts a day, spread between the family, keeping a wet barrier around the tree. Some ants do get by, and I wonder how much action is going on below ground?

    I'm considering putting in a plastic barrier in the ground around the tree. I seem to remember a type of plastic that ants and spiders can't get any traction on. What I don't remember is the name right now, I'll do more research.....

    OK! I opened a Flickr account and uploaded some photos. This is my first shot at using Flickr, so here goes.....

    This is the corner of the front yard with the Olive tree, http://www.flickr.com/photos/da_ju_toe/3769227561/

    A photo of the hive entrance.. http://www.flickr.com/photos/da_ju_toe/3770026986/

    And a view as far down the entrance as I could get... http://www.flickr.com/photos/da_ju_toe/3769227723/

    Barry: Does the last photo give you enough detail to verify these are indeed Honeybees? I understand there are "Mimics" in the animal and insect world; I just don't know if anything mimics honeybees this closely. Say the word and I'll get a closeup of an individual.

    Fuzzy: Thanks for the recipe! I bought a can of the Boric Acid this morning, and I'll cook something up after work. Question; Will increasing the amount of Boric Acid decrease the time need to destroy the colony? If I add a jar of refined honey, will that increase the attraction of the ants? I tried those ant stakes, and they are either ineffective, or the ants have a one track mind about getting into the hive.

    KQ6AR: Thanks for your interest, hope you like the photos!

    Thanks again everyone.

    Chris P.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    5,041

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    You are wasting your time, money and orange oil. Bees survived for millions of years without you. The ants won't hurt the bees. They are primarily interested in the bee corpses.
    And "keeping bees" was not thrust upon you. You just got new neighbors. At this point the bees are keeping you. Let them bee.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,194

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    Yah, their honey bee's. Do they seem to go up into the tree, or down in the ground?

    I agree with Frank, other than killing the ants you'll fight them for years and never win. As he said the bees will probably take care of it themselves.
    Dan

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,650

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    Honeybees they are! Agree too that the bees will do fine on their own dealing with the ants.
    Regards, Barry

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Silicon Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,235

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    Regarding the ant poison... It is my understanding that adding too much boric acid will kill the feeding ants but the intent is to have them take it back to the nest. Apparently the ants eat their dead in the nest.
    As for adding/using honey I am afraid it would then be more attractive to the bees and therfore bad for them.

    In my experience gardening, I find that when I cover areas with black plastic that is exactly where I find the ant nest the next spring. Does make it easy to find though.

    Fuzzy

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    San Jose, California, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    Hi again,

    KQ6AR: I can only deduce the bees are going downward. At night when it's quiet, you can hear the ground around the tree humming, and I swear I can feel a slight vibration sometimes if I am barefoot.

    odfrank: Thanks for your viewpoint. I have noticed that the bees do a good job of housecleaning, and drag the carcasses of expired bees outside and dumping them a few feet from the entrance to the hive. The bees never seemed to object to the ants going for the carcasses, but this time the ants are going into the hive, and the hive guards (drones?) are clearly agitated and the flow of bees seems abnormal as well.

    As for the decision to fight, I'll share a story: Many years ago I was working on a house further south of here, in the Almaden Valley. Early in the morning I went up a ladder, and plucked a hornets nest from the 2nd story awning, using a pair on long nosed pliers. In one motion, I pulled the nest off at the stem and flung it to the ground as far away as possible. I was expecting to have to run for it, but by the time I got back on the ground, the nest was black. Ants welled up out of the cracks in the ground and attacked this nest, chewing the legs & wings off the adult hornets, and carting off the pieces and pupae. The nest was barren after about 10 minutes. I was impressed!

    I guess it was this experience that prompted me to take action, although I have not seen any "Bee bits" being carried away this time.

    This week, we had a monthly service from Clark pest control. We relayed our situation, and for 2 days now we have not seen any ants, and the hive seems to be returning to normal. I don't know what they did; hopefully it will last for a while.

    Thanks to everyone for your input. I will start moving around to the other areas in the forum and concentrate on learning more. With any luck, I'll be able to contribute someday!

    Chris P.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    5,041

    Default Re: Hi from Silicon Valley,CA. Beekeeping thrust upon me!

    So now you have no ants, you don't know what the pest control company did, you don't mind that you had a measurable problem - ants, and you don't mind that your whole family is now immersed in an unknown amount of an unknown pesticide of unknown toxicity to you and your family. Give me ants any old day over an invisible, scentless undetectable poison.

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