Our bees are home — and under attack!
By Margaret Sloan, Sunset production coordinator
The bees (honey-makers for our ultra-local feast) did finally make it home after our long day in Grass Valley. At 10 pm that night we settled the two hives on the cinder blocks and unplugged the hive entrance, expecting the bees to boil out. But all was quiet; there wasn’t even a low hum to indicate our hives were occupied, which led me to dream all night that the bees had died.
Relief abounded at 7:30 the next morning when we saw that the bees were already buzzing about, executing their crazy looking zig-zag flight patterns as they scoped out their new home. Some were already zooming up and over the trees lining the creek, and others were exploring the outside of the hive, paying close attention to the seams of the boxes.
Our office was all abuzz about the bees, and we made numerous trips to introduce the bees not only to the rest of Team B, but everyone else too. It seems there is a lot of interest in bees.
Young colonies like ours have a lot of work to do; storing pollen and nectar, sealing all the cracks and seams in their new home, taking care of the queen and new brood. We are helping them adjust to their new homes easier by providing “nectar” in the form of sugar water. They get 1 part sugar dissolved into 1 part water. We used quart jars and feeder lids (regular jar lids with small holes in them) placed so they drip into the top of the hive.
We thought they’d settled in and we would just need to keep up a water and feeding schedule… And then the attack of the ants!
Ack! They are streaming across the top of the hive and into the sugar water, and we are worried that they will steal the honey, eat the brood (the baby bees, helpless in their combs), and demoralize the hive. Kimberley saw several bees on the ground flipping somersaults as ants attacked them. Poor bees.
We’ve put out Terro Ant Stakes, but they won’t begin to control the problem (if they work at all) for a couple weeks. We have to build some sort of barrier that ants can’t crawl over, either a water moat, or spread over the concrete blocks a sticky stuff called Tanglefoot. Ants can’t cross the sticky morass. I’ve used this on the trunks of fruit trees to keep ants out of the foliage; it’s messy but it works.
Dear readers, if you are beekeepers, how do you control ants?