Ants always look for a safe, warm place to find food and lay their eggs. They are like the annoying neighbor that gets a little too familiar.
It typically starts with borrowing a screwdriver today to inviting themselves into your pantry the next day.
If your beehive is infested and you are wondering how to keep them away, below we consider some of the best strategies to keep ants out of hives:
Ant infestations usually happen when your beehive has its defenses down. To keep ants away from your hive, here are a few things steps you can take:
- Apply a bee-friendly ant killer, spread cinnamon around the hive.
- Create a hive stand for your bees, build molds under the stands, and grease up the legs of the stand.
- Avoid fallen comb and spillage.
It will also help if you make your yard unattractive to them by clearing all bushes and trimming your lawn.
In the subsequent headings, we will discuss easy ways to keep ants out of your bee hives. We have also included a FAQ section to answer other common questions about ant infestations in beehives.
9 Ways To Keep Ants Out of Bee Hives
Many ant species come in when your beehive has its defenses down. Bee larvae are a rich source of protein; ants love honey, so they will try to get in.
However, an ant infestation can cause your bee colony to collapse, and you don’t want that. What you can do is prevent this from happening instead of expecting your bees to fight for themselves.
Fortunately, there are many safe, natural methods you can take to safeguard your hive so these ants do not get in. Some may require you to create barriers that make entering the beehive difficult.
In the end, it will discourage pests from trying. However, these safeguarding techniques may not work on all beehives. You may have to try out some strategies before picking the best one.
Below, we consider some of the best strategies to keep ants out of beehives:
1. Create a Hive Stand for Your Bees
Generally, ants live in the ground, and any beehive sitting on the ground is an easy target. Plus, when your hive is on the ground, it is difficult to see an ant infestation happening.
One of the effective ways to slow down ants is to use a hive stand. Even though ants may still invade your beehive because they climb anything, a hive stand will significantly slow them down.
Plus, leaving your beehive too close to the ground is a recipe for disaster. It can attract other insects and unwanted pests.
You can buy a hive stand from the stores or make one using cement blocks or wood. Anything that gets your beehive off the ground is fine.
This will prevent ant colonies from building a home under your hive. However, keep your hive stand at least six inches long to deter ants.
Anything other than that will offer protection from other animals like raccoons, opossums, and skunks.
2. Build Moats Under Your Hive Stands
This strategy is easily a beekeeper’s favorite because it is easy to implement and produces results. All you need are four wide containers that allow your hive stand legs to fit and still leave enough room.
This way, ants can’t get to the beehive without passing through the moats. Place something inside the moat, like soapy water, vegetable oil, or motor oil.
These make it difficult for ants to move around. While motor oil is the cheaper oil, vegetable oil protects the environment more.
The reason is that when it rains, and the moat overflows, it releases its content into the earth. Motor oil can affect greenery and damage the ecosystem.
3. Grease up the Legs of Your Hive Stand
Like humans, ants are subject to friction; if there is no friction, they can’t move around.
So, another thing you can do to keep ants away is to grease up your hive stand. This will make a good pick if you are looking for an alternative to using moats.
You can paint over the legs of your hive stand with greases like motor oil or petroleum jelly. This is often enough to deter ants from climbing up to your beehive.
However, your hive stand is still exposed to the elements. As such, you will need to touch up the grease every few months.
Alternatively, you can cover your hive stands in cling film and spray a lubricant on the surface.
4. Spread Cinnamon Around Your Beehive
Botanicals are an effective way to repel pests from a beehive. For one, cinnamon helps to deter ants without harming the bees. Apart from the occasional sneezing, it is safe to be around this spice.
It is also easy to purchase and apply, but ground cinnamon works better for preventing an ant infestation. Cinnamon sticks are ineffective because ants can easily get around or climb them.
On the flip side, you can easily spread ground cinnamon, making it difficult for ants to work around it.
This method works best when combined with other preventive measures like clearing bushes and keeping beehives spill-free. You can use cinnamon both inside and outside the beehive.
To use inside, sprinkle cinnamon on the inner cover. But outside, you can sprinkle liberally on the ground and surrounding the hive.
Bees do not mind the cinnamon, but ants can’t stand it and will stay away.
5. Keep Your Yard Clean
Another way to protect your beehive from ant infestation is to make your yard unattractive to them. Start with removing weeds and trimming your lawn.
Look out for tall weeds, branches, and blades of grass that grow underneath your beehive stand.
These actions eliminate the bridges that make it easy for ants to access your beehive. Anything that creates a direct connection between the ground and your beehive is a bridge.
A clear yard makes it easier to see ant mounds and treat them. When dealing with colonies, avoid throwing pieces of honeycomb around.
The reason is that many pests and predators are looking for a free meal. So, the sweet scent of a honeycomb will draw them closer.
6. Create Beehive Ant Barriers
Planting certain plants around your beehives can help to repel ant colonies from invading them. Mint is a good example of such plants, but bear in mind that many mint species are invasive.
However, your bee colonies will enjoy having some herbs that keep them protected from ants.
But if you live around hive beetles, don’t plan anything close to your beehive. The logic behind this is that the ground’s moisture aids beetle production.
Then, the tall blades act as a bridge for these crawling insects to enter your beehives. Another beehive ant barrier is wood ash.
Apply around your beehive to deter ants; if your area gets a lot of rain, you will have to reapply often.
7. Use a Bee-Friendly Ant Killer
Since bees and ants are closely related, finding a pesticide that will not harm your bees may be difficult. However, search for a pesticide that promises to deter ants without affecting your bees.
Then, be careful with powdery products or sprays that may drift unto your beehives or blooming plants. If you spot ant colonies in your yard, destroy them, as you don’t need them so close to your beehive.
Before using any pesticide, read the label and follow the instruction carefully. Then, spread or spray gently to avoid particles landing near the entrance of your hive.
8. Beware of Fallen Combs and Spillage
Loose combs and sugar syrup are common bell calls for ants and other pests. So, when visiting your beehives for routine inspection, carry a bucket with you.
If you are going to feed your bees syrup, reduce spillage to a minimum. But if you spill, clean it up immediately.
Otherwise, your unwanted neighbors will come and lap the spilled syrup up and look for more in your beehive. If you made a feeder out of a jar, turn it upside down inside the bucket.
This way, you can contain the initial dripping before placing it inside the hives.
Cut out any burr comb in the hives and place it in the bucket. If left to fall to the ground, the morsels can draw ants and other pests. Following these steps will reduce any motivation for ants to come around.
9. Physically Remove Ants From Your Hives
Another way to keep ants out of your beehive is to brush them off. Also, remove their eggs to prevent them from hatching in your beehives.
Look out for their access points and close them up. Cut branches if you have to prevent them from crawling into your net.
A few ants in your hives are nothing to worry about. But when there is an organized assault on your bee colonies, it is time to act.
Fortunately, we have set out some strategies to help you protect your bees from an infestation. Follow them to end your ant problem.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Ants Invade Hives?
Like most humans, ants love sweet things, and bees produce some of the sweetest substances – honey. Once ants smell the sweet scent of honey, they start to hunt the source.
However, they don’t intend to attack the bees; instead, they look for their next meal.
So, ants will typically slip between the top and inner cover of any beehive nearest to them. This space is dark, warm, and close to their desired food.
How Does an Ant Infestation Affect Bees?
Having a few ants around your beehives is not much of a problem. A healthy bee colony can handle them on its own.
However, a large ant infestation is a cause for alarm. It indicates that your bee colony is not as strong as it should be.
Some ants species, like argentine and fire ants, are more aggressive than others. For example, the argentine species carry the deformed wing virus, which can harm bees.
Omnivorous ants, on the other hand, tend to eat the brood (young bees) in the colony.
Overall, a large infestation can cause bees to abscond (leave) your beehive. I’m sure that is the last thing you want.