Beekeeping has become something that many people enjoy. While it’s rewarding, it does require effort. Not only do you have to keep your bees happy, you also need to make sure they’re safe from pests. Ants see beehives as a chance to eat a sweet treat which is why you need to keep your eyes open for them. We’ve gathered information to help you keep ants from getting into your beehives.
Why Do Ants Invade Beehives?
Ants love to eat sweet things and bees produce one of the sweetest treats—honey. If ants smell the sweet scent of honey, they are likely to seek out the source of it. Their intention is not to attack the beehive. They’re just looking for their next meal. Ants will often sneak into the layers between the top cover and inner cover of the beehive. This space is warm, dark, and close to the food they’re trying to find.
Are Ants Harmful to Beehives?
A few ants near your beehive aren’t typically a problem. Healthy bee colonies will be able to handle the problem on their own. However, a large infestation can cause problems for bees. It can also indicate that the bee colony isn’t as strong as it could be. Some species of ants, like fire and argentine ants, are more aggressive than other species. Argentine ants are also known to carry the deformed wing virus, which can be harmful to bees. A larger infestation can cause bees to leave the hive, in a process known as absconding. Omnivorous ants have been known to eat the brood—developing young bees—in a colony.
How to Stop Ants from Getting into Beehives
Check out a few ways you can keep ants from getting into your beehives.
Keep Yard Clean: Making your yard less appealing to ants can protect your bees. Keep your lawn trimmed and remove weeds. This can also help to eliminate any bridges that will make accessing the hive easier for ants.
Keep Bee Boxes in Good Condition: Taking care of your bee boxes can help ensure ants can’t sneak inside. Check for holes or cracks and make sure to repair them to eliminate entry points to the hive.
Remove Honeycomb Pieces: When you find detached pieces of honeycomb, you don’t want to toss them on the ground. The sweet scent will lead ants right to your hive.
Use a Hive Stand: Hive stands raise the hive off the ground, which will make it harder for ants to access the beehive. It can also help ensure ants can’t build nests directly under the hive’s wooden structure. Adding a layer of something slippery, like Vaseline or a product designed for this, to the legs can make it harder for ants to climb on them.
Create a Moat: Hive stand legs can be placed in a dish with soapy water to deter pests from climbing into the hive. Some stands come with these moat dishes or you can create your own. Just make sure the dish is wide enough to leave space between the leg and the edge of the dish.
Treat Ant Mounds: If you spot an ant nest in your yard, it may be best to treat it. Applying a natural insecticide dust, like our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ Bed Bug Killer (it will treat other pests too!) to the nest can help eliminate an infestation.
How to Get Rid of Ants in Beehives
If ants are invading your beehives, there are things you can do to get rid of them. Here are a few tips to help you keep your bees safe.
Find Their Access Point: The first step in controlling an ant problem is finding the access point. If your hive is on the ground allowing ants to climb right in, use a stand. If there’s something, like a branch, they’re crawling on to get into your nest, remove it. Cutting off their access will be crucial to stopping them.
Physically Remove Ants: Brushing ants off the hive is one way to get rid of ants. Removing any eggs is important to keep them from hatching in your hive. Though this method can help, if you don’t cut of their access point or acknowledge the root of the problem, ants will return to the hive.
Bee-Friendly Ant Killer: Bees and ants are closely related which means you need to be careful when applying insecticides. Using a natural ant bait, like our No Spill Ant Kill, is one way to get rid of ants without hurting bees. Ants will be attracted to the bait and then share it with the colony. This will help to eliminate the source of the infestation for long-lasting control.
Preventing an infestation is always easier than fighting an army of ants, so take time to pest-proof your beehives and yard. Protecting your bees from invading pests requires a quick and effective solution. If ants or other pests are giving you a fit, we have your back! Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective Pest Control products.