Ants vs. Bees (and Beekeepers)

My husband (henceforth referred to as The Engineer) discovered the ants the day before our bees arrived. The little black pests had decided our hive stand was the perfect place to raise the next generation and set up housekeeping, complete with eggs. The Engineer, acting in his usual rational manner, quickly cleared them off.

Unfortunately, the little buggers (pun intended) didn’t move on to other real estate. On Wednesday, they were back, marching determinedly up the hive stand legs, carrying eggs and depositing them somewhere inside our bees’ new home.

Panic ensued!

Oh, the ants or the bees were calm enough — it was me who was panicking. What kind of bee owners let ants take over their hive? In the first week, the first day even? And how on earth do you get rid of ants in a beehive? I’m pretty sure they didn’t cover this scenario in class.

Yes, I know, as a retired librarian, I should have gone old-school, found the answer in a book or magazine, but sod it — our bees’ very lives could be at stake! I typed “how to get rid of ants in a beehive” into my favorite search engine, and while I can’t vouch for the authority of the sources, the conclusion was cinnamon.

FullSizeRender-14The favorite apple pie spice, popular tea ingredient, and beloved toast topper is apparently an ant anathema (an ant-athema?). Cinnamon is in almost everyone’s spice cabinet, and mine yielded both ground and stick. IMG_2192We sprinkled the ground cinnamon on and around the legs of the hive.

The ants turned back!

For good measure, we propped the sticks under the hive in the hope of  discouraging further incursions.

Maybe the scent messes with the ants’ trail.
Perhaps they prefer cardamom. Or curry powder.
I don’t really care.
The ants are gone, at least for now, and that’s what matters.