Robbers and Marauders

If you’re going to keep bees, then be prepared for robbers and marauders. There are any  number of different creatures in nature that want either the shelter of the beehive or the food inside the beehive. Some of them may even want the bees.

I’ve already been dealing with three potential issues: ants, wasps, and some kind of decent size critter. The ants are, at this point, attracted to the sugar water I’m feeding the bees.  A top bar hive may be more susceptible to an ant infestation because of where the sugar water is being stored. The feeder is inside the hive, unlike a traditional entrance feeder that hangs off the side of a langstroth. Because the sugar water is inside, so are the ants. At this time, I haven’t seen a lot of ants where the bees are. But they are just on the other side of the divider. If unaddressed, I fear this problem might get worse when the honey comes, and the ants may get bolder. For now, the bees are keeping them at bay.

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So, I’m open to suggestions. Just keep in mind I’m not about to use pesticides near – even if it’s said to be safe for bees. I’m trying to do this as naturally and organically as possible. Yesterday morning I sprinkled ground cinnamon (it’s a natural repellent) on the legs of the hive. That seemed to have helped. When I went back yesterday evening, there were a lot less ants. But last night, torrents of rain came and washed the cinnamon away. The ants were back this morning. Now I’m going to try place sticks of cinnamon at the base of the legs and see if that helps.

Then there is the matter of the unidentified critter. See the paw print in the photo below? That’s on my beehive. My first thought was raccoon, but I’m not so sure after searching online. Right now, all I can really do is keep an eye out for more signs. I have the lid of the hive secured with a bungee cord (you can see it to the left of the paw).  I’m hoping it will be good enough. But I might add a couple more latches just to be safe.

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Finally, I also dealt with wasps trying to build a nest of their own in the unoccupied part of the hive. After knocking down their progress twice, they gave up. I haven’t seen a sign of them in the last few days. All this to say…anyone who has treasure will have someone else who wants it. The bees are rich and part of my job is to keep their loot protected. Part of the learning process.

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6 thoughts on “Robbers and Marauders

  1. We have liberally applied powdered cinnamon inside the feeding section of the hive with good results. The bees were not at all fussed but the ants ceased to come almost overnight.

  2. I remember my mom using baking soda along the doors and trim in the kitchen to stop ants from getting in and it worked pretty good for a natural substitute. I also read a post by a lady beekeeper who said she kept her grass and weeds all low directly around the hive and mixed 1 cup of Borax 20 mule team with 1 gallon of water to spread directly around and below the hive and she didn’t have a problem with ants any further. (She put it on at night after the bees were inside…here’s the link… http://www.keepingbackyardbees.com/ants-in-the-bee-yard/ ) Another post suggested burnt/old motor oil in coffee cans and putting the hive’s legs in them, or spread it up the sides of the legs. Ants don’t like oranges or their peels, maybe some super concentrate orange oil on the wood would help! This is so cool! What a great journey you guys are on! I can’t wait to see where it leads you all.

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