Tag Archives: preventing

Ant attack!

The bees have been in a pitched battle with ants, and I didn’t realize it.

I had noticed they were rather testy lately, quite irritable when I go to close their door at night.  They had briskly seen me off a few times and I was even stung.  I thought that was odd because they used to be so mild.  Now I get it.

Once in awhile I’d seen an ant on the bottom board drawer, but no biggie, right, if they aren’t in the hive.  A couple days ago I pulled the drawer and there was a pile of sticks on it, the kind of collections ants like to build, and more ants.  Hmmm.

Looking in where the drawer goes, there were ants on the front wall, right underneath the bee entrance/ledge.  Well, I thought, the bees I’m sure are handling them.  A healthy hive can protect itself from ants.  I dumped out the antwork and replaced the drawer.

Last night I arrive to shut the bees at night (they don’t get shut in, I reduce the opening so they don’t have a big draft and can keep it warm more easily) and just as I got there, I saw a bee pop out on the ledge holding an ant, and take off.  I assume she went and dropped it somewhere.  Wow!  And hmmmm.

I checked the drawer and uhoh, there appeared to be a pitched battle taking place at the front of the hive.  There was also a high pitched bee distress buzz happening, but I couldn’t locate the distressed bee.

Rush to the internet.  Quickly learn that ants can be disastrous for a hive, in short order, especially the nasty red and black ants (my ants!).  I don’t love interacting with these ants. They pinch, or bite.  It stings.  Ant colonies abound here. The hens are using their mounds for La-Z-boys.

If it’s not one thing it’s another.  I blithely thought bees and ants got along just fine.  They are related.  These ants lived under the hive, dragged off the dead bees… but no, they wanted more!

The only solution on offer that was actionable immediately was powdered cinnamon.  I dredged the legs of the hive stand and the front of the bottom board drawer with cinnamon, and also kicked off the board covering the ant colony, to give them something else to focus on.  20160617_192622

Today – no ants!  I can’t believe it!  The cinnamon worked! (but I think I’ll moat the legs of the stand next since some people say cinnamon is only a temporary fix).

The bees are acting differently too, not all crowded along the ledge like they’ve been lately in the evening (instead, they’re filling the drone salon).  They’ve been cranky because they’ve been in a prolonged battle with a bunch of stupid ants! – in fight mode.  20160617_192637

The ceiling of this space, where the drawer slides in, is the mesh bottom surface of the hive, the main floor that they generally come and go from.  Debris and dropped pollen balls fall through it onto drawer.  You can see little bee legs poking through as they walk around on it. In the front and the right edge there’s a mysterious hanging garden of sticks and debris, and it seems to be glued or stuck in place (?).  Possibly the bees have been building a barrier, trying to block out the ants.  I read or heard about bees encasing a dead mouse that died in the hive in propolis, to protect the hive from side effects of the decomposition.

I can’t wait for a decent day to open the hive.  Maybe I’ll get to see what’s really going on.  I suspect they may already need another super!

 

Squirrel skirmishes

My ersatz bird feeders ain’t pretty, but they get the job done.

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20160421_095430However, they do NOT pose an inconvenience at all to the (fat, glossy) squirrel who frequents the buffet.

I haven’t gotten around to building a proper squirrel proof feeder. Attempts last year with shields totally didn’t work, although they inspired some squirrel acrobatics and probably gave him some brain exercise, thus creating a smarter squirrel.

Squirrel have impressive intelligence.  The squirrel obstacle course videos never get old.

Our best method is to whisper “Squirrel!” to the dog if he’s inside,  who instantly leaps to high alert, and presses his nose against the crack of the door.   (Think Up!, the movie.  Yes, there is a shortened circuit in the brain of dogs – thy name is Squirrel!)   Open it and he bursts out, galloping at the bird feeder.  The squirrel leaps out of the feeder, and if he’s unlucky enough to not grab a tree to run up, a wild ground chase ensues.  That will keep him away for a few minutes.  There have been close enough calls that this is still exciting for the dog.

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My recent attempt to deter the squirrel is funnier than it is effective.

I’ve got a long string strung from the feeder to inside the window.

20160421_095359When I see the squirrel making himself at home in the milk jug, I give the string a sharp yank.  The squirrel goes catapulting out of the jug, twisting in the air and landing willy nilly, after which he spends some time running up and down the trees and shaking his tail in umbrage.  Then he goes back in the feeder.  He’s already used to it, now it’s just a surprise rollercoaster ride.

My next version will be cantilevering a stick so that it whacks the feeder when I pull the string.  That should be good for a few more days of tail twitching outrage.

I don’t really begrudge the squirrel, either.  He’s not taking all that much product, and he does not bring all his friends.   That’s not in his best interests.   I just mind that he gets in the feeder and then the birds can’t.

Also, he safecracked the bird seed bucket. 

20160420_124301Straight to the motherlode.  Ruined a functional lid, the little %@##&!   This must have taken him all night, and if now if I don’t put something heavy and steel on it, and turn my back for even a second….

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