Ants in my Top Bar Hive
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Erie, PA
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    41

    Default Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    I am about 2+ weeks into being a newbee top bar beekeeper. I originally applied petroleum jelly and cinnamon to the lower legs to deter ants and this morning I went out to check the sugar water and found ants on the bottom board below the 8 point screen. I cleaned up everything I could get at and reapplied petroleum jelly to the legs of the hive. I am open to advice. Thanks in advance for your help.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Koeru, Järvamaa, Estonia
    Posts
    86

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    I often see ants on my hive. The bees seem to allow them to roam on the outside and behind the follower board. I never see them inside the nest itself. So I do not take any measures against them, or other bugs like earwigs.
    EU Hardiness Zone 5-6

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Rosebud Missouri
    Posts
    4,012

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    I also do not worry about ants or other bugs in my hives. I have seen big strings of ants when I would feed. The bees and the ants seem to have something worked out cause I have never had them or any other bug cause any issue with how the bees were doing and I have never seen any on my capped honey. I had a swarm move in a trap once that had more ants in it then bees that moved in. I had a feed sack for an inter cover. I did throw away the feed sack with all the ants on it but the bees did move in before I threw it away.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    2,763

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    I too don't really worry about the occasional ant or earwig in my topbar hives. However, if your bottom board is completely closed off from the beehive so the bees can't get into it, you can use food grade diatomaceous earth on it so anything that walks through it (including small hive beetles) has its exoskeleton cut up and will die from desiccation.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    Thanks for all the feedback. I feel like a new mama fussing over her new baby..... I will try to just let nature take its course.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    Seeing ants roaming all over your hive seems like the end of the world, but it's really not. I sometimes think when a hive absconds and the beekeeper returns to an empty hive being cleaned out by opportunistic ants, they attribute the hive loss to the ants, when it was more likely SHB or something of that ilk.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Hall, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    316

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    Ants are terrible in Georgia; hopefully less so in PA.

    If the hive is strong and healthy, the bees can handle it; keep your hives full of bees. Follower boards are evil (along with anything which creates areas the bees cannot patrol and control). (Plenty of people will disagree with me on this, but I got rid of nearly all follower boards this year, and the ant problems went away). I find that wax moths, hive beetles and ants all love follower boards and the safe places they create. Finally, don't feed if you don't have to. Feed to avert starvation or to build comb during a dearth. otherwise, let the bees feed themselves. I've seen plenty of ants on feeders... I've never seen them attacking comb with honey in it.

    (PS for clarity: I use follower boards during the earliest days of comb building to help the bees build straight, and to compress the bees somewhat to help them grow quickly. I use follower boards until the bees fill about half the hive and then get rid of them. I don't mean to imply "never use them", but i feel we should think of them as training wheels, to be removed as quickly as possible. I used to leave mine in the hives because that was an easy place to store them; I feel that was a mistake).
    Last edited by AvatarDad; 06-27-2018 at 08:57 PM. Reason: PS

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    NW Florida
    Posts
    1,139

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    Sprinkle some Diatomacious earth on the ground around the hive. It is a non-chemical ant, flea, etc. control.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
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    2,879

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarDad View Post
    ... Follower boards are evil (.
    No, they are not evil.
    Proper follower board is your friend.
    Proper follower board == bees are allowed to go under/around the follower board.

    Bees do absolutely hang out and patrol all the real estate behind the follower boards.
    This is how I keep my combs pest free - behind the follower boards (only one of may benefits of the FB).
    So unsure why is they are evil.

    Ants are a non-issue to worry about (maybe fire ants down south are an exception).

    PS: to be clear, follower board <> hive divider;

    Proper reducing/expending the bee nest is a true issue.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Hall, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    316

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    Well... I forgot my smiley face. I was channeling the Alton Brown Thanksgiving episode where a chorus keeps repeating "Stuffing is Evil!" but that reference might be obscure. I did add a PS to explain my caveats. The comment was mostly a joke, with a serious thought at the center.

    That being said, I've never heard of a "leaky" follower board, and the concept has me curious. I don't recall ever hearing about this before in any other TB book or thread. Can you tell more about where the idea comes from, and some strategies for use?

    All the books I have read have treated a follower board as a moving hive divider, and the assumption is they are bee proof. (They have the same profile as the hive, in the books and plans, so the implication is that if they leak that's a sign of bad workmanship). How do you make them leaky? Just have them not fit quite perfectly? Have a scalloped edge? (the latter would just be a poor man's queen excluder, I would think).

    Certainly one of my critiques of the Beeline Apiary hive was the screened bottom allowed the bees to pass the follower. (The followers are also not bee-proof to the outside of the hive, allowing bees to enter and escape there as well). Maybe that's a feature and not a bug....

    Anyway: interesting idea I do not recall ever hearing of before....

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Erie, PA
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    41

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    Thanks so much for the suggestions. I am finding that there is so much to learn about this new path I have set upon.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarDad View Post
    Well...

    That being said, I've never heard of a "leaky" follower board, and the concept has me curious. ...
    little_john and myself had a discussion exactly about follower boards. Search.

    Not sure why and how people get confused.
    One idea I have is that TBH makers did not take their time to study literature about heritage long hives and how they are operated.
    That's some shame because all long hives work the same way. They are ALL the same.

    Follower board is always "leaky" by definition (unlike dividers or diaphragms - these are bee-proof).
    That's the whole point of follower boards and their many uses originate from the "leakiness".
    All my hives always have follower boards in them (until they hit the back wall).

    When I have two colonies in the same body, the divider sealed them off each other.
    Follower boards then control the nest size within the section while still allowing the colony own the entire section.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Dane County, WI, USA
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    2,879

    Default Re: Ants in my Top Bar Hive

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarDad View Post
    That being said, I've never heard of a "leaky" follower board, and the concept has me curious..
    Here, pulled it up for you:
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...77#post1641377
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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