Monday, February 28, 2011

Prenolepis imparis on a Bee Hive

I noticed some winter ants, Prenolepis imparis, scurrying about one of our beehives today and decided to film a brief inspection. Beekeepers I talk to always seem annoyed with ant entering the hive. To be honest I'd say almost all of the ant species in the US don't do any harm. Most of them just enjoy the environment in the hive attic and use it to incubate their brood. A few of the wood nesting species though can do some damage to the hive but it's nothing compared to normal ware and tear of the wood from prying it open constantly. There are a few tropical species of ants that will kill a beehive but nothing for the local beekeeper to be concerned with. 

In this case the P. imparis workers were merely interested in nibbling at the propolis and bits of wax along the side. Ants use tree sap (propolis) as an antibacterial agent. They also have a fondness for the smell of honey I'm sure. I have never found P. imparis colonies to be more than a slight nuisance to my bee hives.  

Below the entrance to another hive the ants were inspecting dead bees the hive was tossing out. A lot of worker bees die over the year and it's natural to remove them from the hive where they're cleaned up by an assortment of ants each spring.

I'm happy to say both my hives are alive and collecting pollen, probably from the maple trees that have just started blooming.