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Ants nesting in flow hive honey super, Australia

We need advice please,

checked the honey super today and found ants nesting in the area the tool goes to crack the cells and the outlet tubes where the honey will flow out of. There’s thousands of ants plus eggs. The hive is sitting on besser blocks, I’ve tried to remove some of them and sprinkled cinnamon around the hive but there are still there. Any advice on what we can do to get rid of them and if we can save the honey, there’s 4 frames that has a quarter capped.

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just looking at your photos: you do not have the little plugs that block up the channels installed? Is there a reason for that? Have you removed them for the photo? (if that is the explanation ignore what follows)

the plugs need to be installed all the time- and are only removed when you harvest honey. I have larger ants that hang around outside the plugs trying to lick up any tiny scrap of honey they may find- but have never had ants actually get inside those channels. Also you didn’t have a photo of it: but do you have the top plugs in place as well?

In the short term to deal with those ants- you can get a hose and wash out the bottom channels. Push the hose in to the end of the channel and then flood it letting the water come out the back. I wouldn’t want to flush too much water through them as some of it may leak through the channel down over your brood box… but a bit should be OK.

If the problem isn’t the plugs- then you may have to look at trying to stop the ants from being able to access the hive. There are various ways of doing that- if you search n this forum you will see some of them. I have also tried to use cinnamon and have not found it to be very effective. Some types of ants don’t seem to hate it as much as others…


yes all the plugs were in and very hard to remove, had to use pliers. I took them out to try to disturb them with a wooden stick. I though that the plugs would seal the flow frames. I’ll try to flush them out with water, maybe a spray bottle, the hive is nowhere near a hose. thanks for the advice

I find it odd that the ants are all up inside the plastic lugs at the top of the frames- on one of my hives there are ants that are often milling around bottom plugs trying to lick up the tiniest scraps of honey residue there. I have watched as some of them try to enter the hive and are chased out by bees. Is the population of bees in your hive strong? It seems they are having a hard time shooing the ants off?

If it is difficult to lift your hive and place some kind of ‘ant moat’ under it- perhaps you could smear a ring of axle grease around the concrete blocks to stop the ants getting up? They won’t cross a barrier like that. The grease should last a fair while. You could also place a layer of diatomaceous earth around the besser bricks- apparently ants hate that too.

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Yes it’s a strong colony, they are keeping the SHB at bay now. The ants are not in the area the bees are,I can’t see any on the frames where the honey is, they are just in the outlet tubes & the top lugs plus all along the top of the frame where the tool goes to crack the cells. The bees can see them through the plastic & it’s making a few of them very mad.
We will make a metal stand & put the legs in water plus grease the legs. Just hope I can wash out the ants that are in there to save the honey. I plan to remove one frame at a time, place on a frame holder then use water in a garden pressure sprayer to rinse them out. Maybe a metal skewer wrapped in cloth for the top to clean it out. I’ve been given some good advice by you, thanks, & others on Facebook group, going to throw it all at the ants !!

Hi Elissa, this is a photo of a cleaning device that I found useful for cleaning the tubes. I purchased a standard bottle brush for a child’s bottle and modified the handle end so I could glue it into a length of dowel ( drilled a hole in the end of the dowel first). It is nice and long to get to the end of the tubes. I couldn’t find a longer one easily in the shops here.


Hi Dan,
Thanks for the pic, great idea, I looked for bottle brushes today but all too short, so will get one and modify it like yours.
I’ve also have a home brew bottle brush that is long but may be too big, could cut the bristles, I’ll give them all a go.
I’m worried the smell from the dead ants might worry the bees, did you clear ants out with the bees still working the frames?

Hi Elissa, in my case fortunately I didn’t have ants but used it to clean out the flow tubes of bits of wax and a few dead bees. I had left the cap off the end of a couple of frames - can’t remember how - but the bees got in there quickly and I had trouble getting them out. I didn’t clean them out till I had removed the Flow Frames/Super in preparation for storage over winter and after all extraction had been completed. I bought the bottle brush at the supermarket and wearing safety goggles, smashed off the plastic from the handle before gluing it in to the spare bit of dowel. There must be many different sorts of bottle brushes out there but this one seemed a perfect size when I used it. As you say - try the home brew one first I suppose - the bristles may flatten out.

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Today I removed all the ant affected frames for the honey super and wash out the tube and top tool turning area with a hose. Removed 90% of the ants and will look next week to see if I need to do again. My hubby built me a hive stand which is sitting in tins with oil, legs are smothered in bearing grease and upside down funnel to keep the rain off the grease and tins.
We really should have had the flow hive on a stand to start with as there’s more spaces for ants to nest in the flow hive where bees can’t shoo them out.


Love it! A tad overkill but it should work given you’ve got multiple anti-ant methods at work…if my water trap ever fails this would be my route to stopping ants…!

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It looks like it could take off by itself!


I was thinking the same Kirsten :slight_smile:
I had ants getting into our swarm capture which is situated on a couple of bricks close to the ground and put borax and jam in a tin beneath the hive and it did the trick. The other stands all have metal tube legs with a grease band on them which also works well.
@Beesrcool your hive looks top heavy. Some people secure the straps to the ground to secure it.

Be careful with that if ants are a problem. It doesn’t take them long to find the straps and use those to climb up to the hive, bypassing the moats. Yes, it has happened to me… :fearful: