Admittedly the ants were not quite as large as in the fifties monster movie but to us much more horrifying. Passing by an unoccupied (by bees) Beatrix we noticed a large black ant entering. Lifting the roof we saw them everywhere, scrambling in the sudden light, some carrying what looked like eggs. Adding to the horror were a few earwigs and spiders in the batting of the eke.

Lifting the hive off its stand, we carried it away and dumped the ants on the ground, shaking and brushing to make sure none remained within. The squatters in the batting were likewise evicted, some with extreme prejudice. And finally we placed the legs of the hive stand in some cheap plastic containers scavenged from the kitchen and filled with water to prevent reoccupation by non-flying life forms.

As this illustrates, an unoccupied hive is a potential home for any number of insects that would be driven off by a thriving colony. We had been keeping Beatrix clean of wasps but ants had previously shown no interest. Perhaps her current location is nearer a nest. Perhaps the wasps were a deterrent to the ants. For some beekeepers keeping ants out is a constant task.

If we keep Beatrix where she is, in spite of fading hopes that she will yet entice a passing swarm of bees, we shall have to invest a little more work on her moats. While her cedar legs are rot-resistant, they may not do well with constantly soaked ends. Switching to some sort of oil instead of water would be better but more costly and inconvenient to replenish. Perhaps we should make rubber/plastic booties by painting the submerged part with that tool-handle coating from the hardware store. Then we could continue using water.

We would also need to keep a close eye on the grass so it does not grow tall enough to reach the legs over the water. Plastic sheeting under wood chips prevented this problem at the old location. A large enough tile under each leg might solve it here. But it is best not to have permeable ground under a hive, where pests can burrow, so another layer of sheeting may be our solution. Or we will just move her back after all.

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