Normal Bee-havior?

So, I am three years into beekeeping and first two years, no honey…bees didn’t survive the winter (Michigan, US). So I am doing a few things differently and looking for some opinions…

1.) I am using am oxalic acid vaporizer every few weeks (before super on and after super is off).
2.) I saw quite a few beetles in the lower tray a few days in a row. I have one beetle trap in the brood box but didn’t want to dismantle everything since they have 2/3 of the flow super completed…so I put about 1/2in of water in the lower tray and a tbsp of oil in each section. I am thinking that the bees are doing a good job forcing the beetles down there and now they will just drown. Will that cause too much moisture?
3.) I put the Flow super on after the first brood box was mostly full, instead of putting a 2nd brood box on. This forces them to make honey for me. Last two years they just didn’t have enough steam to fill two Brood boxes and then the Super. Will me taking all their honey in mid August leave them with not enough for the winter?
4.) I am fighting off large black ants. I keep finding them in the lower tray, and a bunch between the top cover and roof??? I kill them all and they come back. I have tried dietemecious earth around the feet, and now cinnamon around the feet. I have the risers with the oil bins but I think these ants are large enough to scale the gap. I refilled the oil and raised the top covers but it is hard to keep them filled all the time.
5.) Lastly, I am collecting some pollen out front. I had to jury rig the pollen collector as it is made for a traditional hive and the Flow hives are a bit narrower. I’ll collect for a week and see what I get. I am thinking since I have one brood box, it is getting crowded, so reducing pollen intake will reduce the brood and maybe prevent a swarm
On that last note, I took a photo of some strange bee-havior. They are really all over outside the landing board…and now the pollen collector. Is this bees cooling off, robbing, or did I wreck their ability to fan the hive when I put the pollen collector on?
Lots of questions, sorry about that. I am open to ideas/advice for any or all of them.

Are you testing for mites? The oxalic acid is not that effective on colonies with significant amounts of brood present.

Possibly. You may need to assess in the fall before it gets too cold (less than 50°F average) and feed them.

Ants usually usually aren’t much of a concern. Try sprinkling some cinnamon powder on the inner cover. Or try using a migratory lid.

Probably not the case. They’re out of swarm season. Collect pollen if you want but not to prevent swarming or crowding.

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Hi Tom,
I have a major ongoing problem with large ants. They are either meat ants or a species native to Australia) called jumping jacks. Unfortunately, I lost a nuc hive to them earlier in the year.
They form large underground nests and satellite nests which can be difficult to find. Here, they will enter the hive at night, so you won’t see them crawling around the hive exterior unless you check your hives at night with a red torch (neither the bees nor ants can see the red light). They’ll build a nest in the roof cavity, bringing leaves, sticks and tiny stones up into the cavity. They won’t disturb the bees too much until they’ve built up an army and their nest is complete. Then WHAM! They’ll start raiding the hive for larvae and probably honey. They rip the larvae out of the cells and drag them up to the roof. They are also relentless. Once the nest is in, they’ll keep trying to rebuild it.

After years of trial and error, I’ve come up with a way to manage them after many failures.

  1. Check under the hive roof regularly, even if you don’t see them on the outside of the hives. They can get a nest up and running inside two weeks. I keep the hole in my inner cover closed so I can check the roof cavity without disturbing the bees.

  2. Put your hives up on these. This will keep them out so long as you keep grass from growing up above these ant guards to give them a bridge over the top (they’ll keep trying to find one). FYI, these are termite caps above 4x4x6 inch blocks - I don’t know if you get them over there but you get the idea. The underside of each cap is greased to stop the ants crossing. Each year you’ll need to add more grease - more or less, depending on your area and dust levels. These ants will jump over the ant guards or moats you see on this forum for the most part.

  1. Enjoy winter when the ants hibernate!

When I find a nest, I vacuum up the ants with a hand-held vacuum. I then vacuum up some ant dust to kill the ants inside. Wait half an hour and empty the dead ants out but block the entry as some may try to crawl back out. Below I have emptied the vacuum to find 6 queens within the nest:

The vacuum noise annoys the bees but I find they don’t get too upset. You might get a guard come up and see what you’re up to. They also get used to it. I can hear the buzz of the hive start to elevate when I’m vacuuming, so I try to be quick. When the ants start raiding the hive, the bees will become very agitated. If you only have a small number of ants, just use a brush or flick them out.

Your situation may be very different, but I hope this helps. If you can find the ants’ nest, it might be huge but you can try ant-dusting the entrance or flooding it with soapy water.

All the best!

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So I took off the pollen catcher as the fit was bad and it wasn’t catching a ton. I did get some to sample. Here is a photo of the bees at dusk. It was a relatively cool day (low 80s F) so I was surprised so many were out front. Any thoughts on why they are out there?