Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Ants Go Marching One by One

This afternoon, while checking on the feeders, I noticed that none of the bees in Austeja were touching the feeder at all. Meanwhile, Hippolyte's bees were forming a mass around the feeder. Hmm... What's that all about? Why such a difference? No clue.

I also noticed that the ants... along with earwigs are back. The ants in particular bug me because they keep making nests on top of the bars in Hippolyte. Impulsively, I grabbed some orange oil from the house and doused their nest because, to rehash one of my favorite sayings from the 80's, Homey don't play that.

Orange oil, I've heard, dissolves the wax coating on ants' exoskeletons, and this may be true. Within minutes, there was a mass of dead ants on the hive. I also sprinkled cornmeal and cinnamon on top of the bars and stuffed any cracks with tansy leaves. Supposedly, cinnamon and tansy are repellents. Cornmeal is the TNT of ant poisons -- it kills them by exploding their tiny bodies. Between the orange oil and cinnamon, the hives smell like Turkish pastry now, but hopefully the bees won't mind. I read somewhere that they're attracted to the smell of orange oil... Then I read somewhere else that they're not. If they abscond, I guess we'll know which opinion is right.

I abstained from putting moats under the hive legs this year because ants weren't really a problem last year. Or were they? After thinking about this issue for a while, I remembered that initially, I did indeed experience a plague of ants. I got rid of them by sprinkling cinnamon (from a Costco-sized container), used coffee grounds, and ground up citrus peels all around the legs of the hive. Further away from the hive, I sprinkled cornmeal pretty liberally. Within a couple of weeks, my ant problems disappeared, and that's why I didn't need moats.

Today, I pulled out a ginormous container of cinnamon and gave the ground a good coating by the legs. Tomorrow, I'll start putting out coffee grounds and citrus peels. I'll also smear petroleum jelly over the legs. If the ants aren't gone in two weeks, I'll concede defeat and put moats under the hives. At this point, though, I'd rather not install them because it means closing up the hives and getting my bee-sting allergic husband to suit up like a bubble boy to help. I'd much rather that he stay out of the beeyard, though. Hearing him retch non-stop after a sting is nerve-wracking enough, but I always fear a worse reaction.

For now, fingers crossed that I get rid of them quickly.

P.S. My dear friend, K, if you are reading this, you may now gloat. You sent me photos of your lovely moats a couple of months ago and ribbed me a little when I said I wasn't planning to use any. You win. :-)

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