Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Red devils looking for a free snack! And they found it..

So things around the hive have been rather slow lately. Not much to tell really. The girls seem to be doing rather well, busy flying in and out all day long and enjoying the sunflowers I planted behind them. And with the crepe myrtles being in full bloom here, they have have lots to keep them busy. I'm glad its a popular tree here in the south.

The screened bottom board I added a few weeks ago was a big help with the ventilation issue. The bearding has almost completely stopped, and I think the second brood box was a big help too. They now have more room to work with and won't be so darn crowded.

I did mow around the hive yesterday and since it has been ungodly hot and humid here (the high temperature yesterday was 97 and the humidity was really high) and I figured they would be a little testy. Nope. Even with the push lawnmower all around the hive, and me riding the lawn tractor up and down in front, they didn't give me a second glance...unlike a few weeks ago when a few of them followed me and the lawnmower all the way to the house.

We did have a really nasty storm brew up here yesterday afternoon, and just to make sure that the "honey bee condo" (stacked three high) didn't blow over, I put a cinder block on top of the landscaping paver that was already there. Some of the trees were blowing sideways because of the intense wind, and around the corner, a pretty big portion of a tree broke off in front of an office building. But we all survived. I'm going to leave the cinderblock on since the weather service says we can expect strong thunderstorms for the next few days.

While I was replenishing the sugar syrup yesterday, I did notice that some fire ants found their way into the hive-top feeder, especially when I found one crawling up my arm. Not many ants, maybe ten or so, but enough for me to be concerned that I may be fighting an invasion. While fire ants are pretty common to North Carolina, I haven't seen too many of them in my yard...that is until now. I have a feeling that they're getting in through the top of the hive. To aid in hive-top ventilation I have some popcicle sticks glued to the inner cover, so I think they're sneaking in through the tiny space between the box and the cover. I knocked off as many of them as I could and this weekend, when I do an inspection, I'll sprinkle come cinnamon around the top of the inner cover and around the edges of the feeder. I did that before with the tiny black ants that found my hive and the bees didn't seem to mind it at all.

I also put out some Terro outdoor ant baits. To make sure my curious bees wouldn't get into it, I put it under the hive stand and to the back...where I believe the ants are entering the hive. And the good thing about the ant baits, the hole is small enough that the ants can get in, but the bees can't. The package indicates that the ants are attracted to it, take the liquid bait back to the nest, and that kills them. We'll see if it works. I'd much rather try this than some of the other remedies that I read about, including using Sevin dust -- things that would kill the ants -- and could possibly kill my colony if they got into it and took it back to the nest. If you've never been bitten by a fire ant, they're horrible and relentless. I've got my fingers crossed that this will work out. Wish me luck.

This weekend, I'm also planning to spray around my hive with a homemade weed killer formula -- kills the weeds but won't harm the bees. All natural, all of the ingredients come from the food pantry. More on that later!

Thanks for reading and a big thanks to those who post comments on my blog. I truly appreciate it. You guys (and that includes you gals too) ROCK!


  1. Hi Mark. I just sat down to actually post and there you were and now I'm distracted again from my posting! Oh, well. I tried to comment on your previous post, but we had a big storm blow in while I was writing and the comment was never published. I was glad to see you back out working the hive after your scare. I'm sure reading my post about my disasterous day gave you much needed courage. :)

    Glad you added the screened bottom board. I've learned from some real serious beekeepers that's the best way to go. I don't have much an ant problem around my hives. My problem is much bigger, and one that was totally expected -BEARS! I'll get to that story soon on Walter Bee.

    BTW, you just made me not miss K'ville. 97! No, thank you.

  2. Glad to read things are going well. We don't get fire ants this far north but I've read and seen many posts about this pest.



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