KEEP OUT! Ants Bring Disease to Honeybee Hives
As if honeybees do not have enough threats against them, researchers have found that ant raids are invading honeybee hives and bringing increased disease levels that are destroying millions of hives globally. Ants are, of course, looking for that delicious honey. However, in the process, the ants devastate the hive and kill the bees. In this scenario, ants are the predator. Unfortunately, the results are not much better if a hive survives an ant raid. Viruses brought to the hive from the ants cause terrible infections and stress the bees to the point of vulnerability to disease.
Stunted Bee Wing Growth
One of the side effects of the diseases that ants infect a hive with is stunted wing growth. Scientists also find that diseased bees do not learn at the same rate as other bees; therefore, they are shunned from the hive. Without a hive to call home, bees that are infected or are unable to contribute to the hive’s health will die.
Beekeepers Looking for Pesticide Alternatives
Most pesticides are toxic, and those safer for the environment are more expensive and harder to get. In desperation, some beekeepers are forced to use pesticides to control the ants or leave apiary locations altogether. Just a few ants that travel to the new site can widely spread the infectious virus, and beekeepers will continue to struggle to get a clean slate for the hives.
Ways to Keep Ants Out of the Hives
Experienced beekeepers are sharing ways they have been able to keep ants out of hives successfully. If ants are a problem near your hive sites, it is critical to keep them out. The ants ruthlessly take the honey and do not care about the path of destruction they leave in their wake.
One reasonably simple way to deter ant activity is to elevate the hives. Placing hives on stands and adding other deterrents can significantly impact ant raids. Some beekeepers add simple moats around the legs of the hive stands, use diatomaceous earth around the hive and even grease the legs of the stand. If using motor oil, it must be re-applied frequently to continue to serve as an effective barrier against ants. Since diatomaceous earth is a great deterrent, it can be scattered around the hives but also must be re-applied often, especially if it rains.
Remove Ant Access
Some beekeepers have found that motivated ants use nearby foliage to access hives. The best thing is to locate hives in a clearing with no overhanging trees or plants close enough to become bridges to the hives.
Know Invasive Ant Species
Argentine ants are one of the most dangerous threats to honeybee hives. If you live in California, these ants are a threat. Please speak with your local beekeeper community and find out what ant species are in the area and the techniques they use to protect their hives. The beekeeping community is a solid resource for helpful tips and local knowledge!
Go Directly to the Ant Source
Beekeepers may choose to find and follow ant trails near their hives and address the ant hive head-on. Diatomaceous earth can be used directly on an ant hive or hill, which should do the trick! Believe it or not, cooking spray was used directly in the ant hive and addressed the ant issue for several beekeepers.
It is crucial to use bee-friendly pesticides if this is the last resort route to protecting bee hives from ant raids. Using products that can’t become airborne and poison food sources for bees and other pollinators should be considered. Stay away from powders and sprays. Finding a granular product that can be placed precisely where you need it is best.
Organic Ant Deterrent Solutions
Beekeepers are environmentally conscious, and many continue to see practical ways to manage pests using organic means. Cinnamon deflects ants and can’t harm the colony. However, be sure the product is 100 percent cinnamon, and skip the sticks because they do not work. Planting herbs that keep ants away include mint but be sure not to plant it too close to the hives to avoid building a direct highway to the hive!
Weeds and grass can be a haven for ant activity, so using a vinegar and salt spray mixture on the ground controls weeds and keeps beetles away from the hives as well.
The beekeeper’s job is a tireless one. Keeping meticulous hives and ensuring ants do not get access to honey or sugar mixtures is essential in preventing ant raids from happening to your precious hives. Although beekeeping is work, most beekeepers will tell you it is worth it. If you want to speak with a local beekeeper or need a hive relocated, contact DTek Bee Removal.