My bees in Verbena colony are still alive, and they didn’t swarm while I was on vacation, YAY! I added another box before leaving, to make sure they had plenty of room. I also added an extra barrier method to make sure ants didn’t get into the hive. I put Tanglefoot on each leg of the hive stand, and I put it on the trunk of my fruit trees too.
Tanglefoot is a very sticky, organic product that is applied around tree trunks to help avoid insect infestation. Any insect that attempts to climb up the trunk gets caught in it. It must be reapplied periodically, so first I wrapped the legs and trunks of my trees with plastic wrap, then applied the Tanglefoot on top of the plastic wrap. This method will allow me to easily remove, and reapply the Tanglefoot.
When I got home on Tuesday afternoon, I quickly looked at the hive from the outside, everything seemed fine. Later that day, my husband looked at it again and noticed several ants on the hive boxes, and stand. I was so bummed that my additional method hadn’t worked! A new or weak hive can become overrun by ants, so it’s important to keep them from accessing the hive. I figured the ants were after the sugar syrup in the top feeder, and I hoped if I removed it, they would disappear too.
I didn’t have time to deal with the issue until Wednesday. I didn’t have help, so doing a full hive inspection wasn’t going to happen, I still get a bit nervous when I’m by myself. I decided to remove the top feeder, and hoped that would keep the ants from being interested in the hive. I also sprinkled cinnamon on the inner cover, because it’s an ant deterrent, and it’s safe for bees. Overall, things went well, I removed the feeder, and several bees were still eating. I gently brushed them away so I could rinse it out and not drown them! I noticed lots of dead ants in the feeder, I’m pretty sure that’s what they were after.
I went back out to the hive stand, and tried to figure out how those pesky ants had been able to get up there. I thought it was strange that for several weeks, my one barrier method had successfully kept the ants away, and when I added another one, they somehow got past it. After looking around for a few minutes, I noticed a trail of ants, and that led me to their access point. A grassy type weed had grown tall enough to reach the hive stand, and the ants were using it to get to onto the stand! I quickly pulled it out, and did the same with several other weeds near the stand. Note to self, keep the weeds from growing near the stand!
This weekend, when my husband’s home, I’ll do a full hive check, look for the Lorde, and make sure the ants haven’t invaded the hive. I’ll be picking up my next set of bees too! I’ll share all the fun details with you next week!