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Ants A Word In Their Favor

Categories: ENEMIES OF BEES.
Bee Keeping: Mysteries Of Bee-keeping Explained

Ants come in for a share of condemnation. This little industrious

insect shall have my endeavors for a fair hearing; I think I can

understand why they are so frequently accused of robbing bees. Many

bee-keepers are wholly ignorant, most of the time, of the real

condition of their stocks. Many causes independent of ants, induce a

reduction of population. Suppose the bees are so reduced as to leave

the combs unprotected,
and the ants enter and appropriate some of the

honey to themselves, and should the owner come along just then and see

them engaged, "Ha! you are the rascals that have destroyed my bees,"

without a thought of looking for causes, beyond present appearances.

They are often unjustly accused by the farmer of injuring the growth of

his little trees, by causing the tender leaves to curl and wither.

Inquiries are often made in some of the agricultural papers for means

to destroy them, merely because they are found on them; when the real

cause of the mischief is with the plant louse, (aphis) that is upon the

leaves or stalk in hundreds, robbing them of their important juices,

and secreting a fluid greatly prized by the ants. By destroying the

lice, you remove all the attraction of the ants. The peculiar habits of

the small black ants, probably give rise to a suspicion of mischief in

this way. They live in communities of thousands--their nests are

usually in old walls, in old timber, under stones, and in the earth.

From their nests a string may be traced sometimes for rods, going

after, and returning laden with food. During a spell of wet weather,

such as would make the earth and many other places too damp and cold

for a nest, they look out for better quarters. The top or chamber of

our bee-hives affords shelter from rain. The animal heat from the bees

renders it perfectly comfortable. How then can we blame them for

choosing such a location, so completely answering all their wants? As

long as the bees are not disturbed, we can put up with it better. But

the careless observer having discovered their train to and fro from

their nest on the hive, exclaims: "Why, I have seen them going in a

continual stream to the hive after honey;" when a little scrutiny into

the matter would show that only the nest was on the top of the hive,

and they were going somewhere else for food; not one to be seen

entering the hive among the bees for honey, (at least I never could

detect it.)

When honey is unprotected by bees, or boxes of it placed where they can

have access, as a natural consequence, they will carry off some; but it

is easily secured.