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Ant Moat version #2, because #1 was TERRIBLE


You probably don’t remember, but I made ant moats for my hive stand legs. See below…

Conceptually, my ant moat was the bees knees. In reality, after every rain, the moat filled with water. YEAH, Water in the Moat! I should be happy, right? WRONG! 3 days later all of the water evaporated or was absorbed by the 4x4 sitting in the moat. My original plan was to avoid this problem by filling the moat with oil. Well, that would work, if (a) oil was more dense than water, (b) the 4x4’s didn’t wick up the oil, and © rain water didn’t fill up the moats. Needless to say, my moat, was a waste of time.

I had seen a different approach to the ant moat on the internet, that used PVC. Here…

and here…

and, yet again, here (there are lots of variations to the PVC ant moat)…

So, I thought I would try something similar. Below is what I came up with and I provided detailed instructions on how to make one yourself (the 4x4 block of wood is simulating one of the legs of my hive stand).

My Design

What my design would look like if a 3 year old drew it:

Before I get into the details, I want to tell you a couple of things I would change in Version #3, so you can make those changes yourself…

  1. The gap between the moat walls (3" PVC cap) and the rain cover (4" PVC cap) might be too small and could be small enough for some ants to bridge. The gap MIGHT be big enough, I’ll see what happens, but, I wish I used a 4 1/2" PVC cap instead.
  2. The nail I used was too long (3 1/4"). It only need to be long enough to bite into the 4x4 and keep it from sliding around. A 3" nail would have been better.

Parts Needed
4 : 4" PVC Caps (they need to be flat, not rounded)
4 : 3" PVC Caps (flat, not rounded)
8 : 1 1/4" PVC Caps (flat, not rounded)
1 : 10" piece of 1 1/4" PVC pipe
4 : 3 1/4" Nail

Tools Needed
Dremel or something similar
PVC Prep Solvent and Glue
Drill bit that has same diameter as nail
Tool to cut PVC (Miter saw, hack saw, PVC cutter)
Alcoholic Beverage

Step 1: Prep the PVC for Glueing
The PVC I bought had rough edges on the surfaces that I was planning on gluing together. I had to grind down the roughness with my air grinder (a dremel would work just as well).

Air Grinder

Rough Spots on PVC

Rough Spots Grounded into Oblivion

Step 2: Glue stuff together
PVC gluing works this way… you apply a solvent to prepare the surfaces (my solvent is purple), then you apply glue to both surfaces (my glue is clear). Then you stick surfaces together, twist the surfaces back and forth against each other a little bit, and wait 2 hours for it to dry.

Applying Solvent (sorry I don’t have more images, hopefully things are self explanatory)

Applying Glue

Putting the parts together

Try your best to glue the 1 1/4" cap right in the middle of the larger cap.

By the time you are done, each 3" and 4" cap (8 total) should have a 1 1/4" cap glued the inside of it.

Step 3: Cut the PVC pip into four 2" segments
Using your tool of choice, cut the 1 1/4" PVC pipe into four 2" segments. The segments are intentionally shorter than the depth of the 1 1/4" caps. The pipe’s purpose is to keep the moat from moving left/right, the pipe is not going to support weight. Once you assemble everything you will see what I mean. This is nice, because this means that your cuts do NOT need to be square.

Then, clean up the edges of your cut and chamfer the edges if you want (chamfered edges tend to fit more cleanly). Chamfered means that you rounded off the edges of the pipe (see images).

Step 4: Assemble the moat
The hard parts are done, now we just need to stick everything together (Note: My PVC pipe is purple, I don’t know why, I think it indicates it is a certain type of PVC pipe. I am mentioning this in case you think I covered the pipe with solvent)

Step 5: Add something to the moat so the hive leg doesn’t slip off the slippery surface of the PVC
Our moat is almost perfect, but, a slight nudge will allow the hive legs to slide right off the moat. We need to add something to keep the legs from sliding around. I decided to add a nail to the moat that would bite into the bottom of the hive leg. I drilled a hole the same diameter as the nail in the top part of the moat and made sure I picked a nail long enough to bottom out onto the bottom of the moat.


Since the top and bottom of the moat are dry fitted together, all I need to do is separate the top from the bottom and fill the moat with oil. After the moats are installed, I plan to periodically check them by lifting the leg of the hive, taking the entire moat off, and temporarily place a block of wood in place of the moat until I am ready to put the moat back.

More photos:

Using Oil trap under hive stand kills bees
Getting Rid of Pests
I am bummed. My only hive died overnight, I need advice, I feel responsible
Bee Photographs
Discourse (the forum software) is copying internet images without citing them
Uninvited Ants Here

Boy, you sure must have the ant problem from hell to go to that much trouble. After saying that I think I will “steal” your model if ants ever become that much of a problem :grinning:



I will never know. My hive is now antvincible.

It only took me 20 minutes to make the 4 moats (if you don’t count the time spent shopping and the time thinking out the design while I was petting my pot belly pig).


And… if I ignore the time wasted on version #1… maybe I should have waited until I confirmed ants were a problem before investing sooooo muchhhh time solving the problem. Arggghhhhhh… I am going to lament my bad decision for a while.


There would be no fun if you hadn’t done all that work so I could “steal” it :kissing_closed_eyes:



The leading cause of problems is solutions…:grin:

Edit I suppose I should give credit where credit is due…

“The chief cause of problems is solutions.”
–Eric Sevareid


Where did you get purple PVC pipe btw? I have never seen that. I thought at first it was just 100% primed but it seems to go throughout the pipe even when you cut it…


I didn’t buy it. It was left on my property by the previous owner.

“Reclaimed water is wastewater a city or municipality has treated to a level where it can be used to irrigate, fight fires and uses other than drinking. This is currently done in areas of the southwest where water is a critical resource to conserve. This water is commonly carried in purple colored plastic pipe back to buildings for reuse. The purple color of the pipe visually warns workers that it is not potable water.”



So wouldn’t the ants just make a link across the two plastic cups and then go up the legs?


If the gaps are too small, then yes. I think the gap in my design might be too small, but that can be overcome by using a 4 1/2" PVC cap (instead of the 4" cap I used).

There is also the possibility that the ants will create an ant bridge, so that they can cross gaps larger than 1 or 2 ant lengths. However, I don’t think the ants in my area are prone to do that, and even if they were, I don’t think scout ants are likely to do that. So… the moats will prevent scout ants from finding the honey, and thus, it is unlikely in any part of the world for the ants to have a desire to attack the hive in large numbers.

Or said another way… if the hive is already infested with ants, the ant moat might be less effective if the gap is too small.


The gaps on the ones I built are wider than the length of a fire ant and a sugar ant, the two types of ants that I am worried about in my area.


I measured the gap. IF the 1 1/4" cap is glued perfectly in the middle of the 3" and 4" cap, the gaps smallest width is 9mm. A fire ant worker ranges is 2mm to 6mm long. And… I doubt they can actually stretch their entire body length to bridge a gap, because their hind legs need to maintain contact to the original surface.

My legs were not perfectly centered when glued, so, my smallest gap is 7mm. So, yeah, I wish I had used a 4 1/2" cap. But, I think the ones I made will work just fine.


I wasn’t raining on your parade…but I have seen ants reach out and then the next one walks across it and so on until a bridge is made. You certainly have lots of creature where you live!


You could periodically spread a ring of diatomaceous earth and/or cinnamon around the feet to give an additional layer of deterrence.


I reckon you need to build a big zapper under the 4" cap. See them bridge that one :smiling_imp:


Hi Loren,

I successfully made four of your moats yesterday. I was unable to find 4.5" pvc caps, so ended up using the 4" and 3" ones as you had done. I even spray painted them brown to match the hive.

Thanks so much for the detailed instructions. I was about to make a water moat before I saw your posting. Thanks again, great design.


I am happy someone is using my design. Finally, I can die a happy man, I have left my mark on this world.

And… good news. They still work great for me. I took them off once thinking I didn’t need them. Next thing I know, I had ants. So, I put them back on and stopped the ants.

My only problems so far after 1 year…

  1. the PVC glue failed on one of them. I think I didn’t do a good enough job grinding the internal surfaces down. But… the other 3 were holding very strong, so, if done right, these things should last.
  2. The nails I used were quite rusted.


Thanks @lhengst
I thought your

design was good so I am trying it out.


Just wanted to update everyone

This is my first ant moat on my first hive. I have ants all around the hive but not a single ant is found on or in my hive. This works!!!


Where did you buy the pvc parts? Places I have checked don’t cary all of them and they are expensive! Thanks