small ants / feral bee hive

Discussion in 'Pests and Diseases' started by Rhud, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. Rhud

    Rhud New Member

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    I'm not a beekeeper but I enjoy and appreciate a very large feral hive in an 50 year old red cedar tree in my yard. I have no plans to try to harvest honey from this hive.
    The hive is about 4 years old and 15 or so feet off the ground. The hive was originally a large bird house. It has grown to be about 4 ft tall and 2-3 ft. diameter and the original bird house is no longer visible.
    I have just noticed that the tree also houses small ants that appear to be traveling in large numbers from their near-ground nest up toward the bee hive.
    I can't say 100% the ants are a problem to, or bothering the bees but I suspect they are.
    Should I take any action to rid the tree / hive of ants, like perhaps using an ant spray between the ant nest and bee hive?
    Your comment / suggestions are welcomed and will be appreciated by me and my bees.
    Ralph
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would not use ANY spray or lethal insecticide anywhere near a bee hive that you might wish to maintain (feral or not feral). ant can make bees a bit testy (defensive to the point of being obnoxious). I would likely find the route of the ants from the ground to the nest and smear a bit of grease at some point strategic place along the way to discourage and turn the ants (needs to be refreshed about every 3 to 4 months).
     

  3. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    They are related, distantly. Bees tolerate ants in many instances. I would suggest leaving them both alone and continue to observe and learn from your observations. Continue being the naturalist you appear to be. No action is necassary. What is going on, if anything positive or negative or neutral, is natural, part of the natural sceam of things.
     
  4. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Definitely leave them all alone! The bees are obviously doing just fine and their large colony can protect itself.
    Ever look on the bottom board or underneath a screen-bottom hive? There is a lot of normal hive debris there- tiny pollen bits, sweet wax cappings, bee parts..... ants are a natural clean up squad and I always see small ants under and around my hives, sometimes going in and out too- they carry out debris bits and I feel they perform a cleanup service. I don't see the bees paying any attention to my small ants. A strong hive will likely fend off any aggressive robbing ants.
    Spraying pesticide (INSECT KILLER, and BEES=INSECTS) anywhere around that feral hive would be a bad thing to do. Leave them bee!
     
  5. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    If those are small ants, there shouldn't be a problem. If you think there are too many of them you may spread some grease (vaseline), as tecumseh suggested or try cinnamon powder. Ants hate cinnamon.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    marsbees writes:
    Ants hate cinnamon.

    tecumseh:
    some bee club member tell me the same thing. I never really tried this myself.

    observing the interaction of the bees and ants would be interesting. I will tell you that my observation here in regards to bees in a box and fireants is that this combination invariable produces bees that are agitated and/or defensive.
     
  7. Rhud

    Rhud New Member

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    I tend to think all is well between the very small ants and the very healthy and growing hive. "Let a sleeping dog lie" is probably appropriate, although it would be interesting to get a closer look from a ladder. The hive is at least 15' up. Maybe I'll take a look.

    The volume of the original box probably represent only 15 -20% of the total hive volume now.

    Another interesting visitor to the hive is a summer tanager (bee bird). I have one that visits the hive early mornings and help himself to some of the bees. He use to visit 3 or 4 times a day but this hive has spun off a number of new hives in the neighborhood so the tanager moves around more.