Setting up a new ant colony

Always a common question... how do I set up my ant colony from a single queen.

What equipment will i need?

  • Nest area

  • Foraging area or outworld

  • Connection tubes

  • Pipette

  • Food (beetle jelly, honey and animal protein)

  • Healthy Queen

How will my ants arrive?

Most of the time your queen and colony or brood will arrive in a test tube. At one end there will be a water source secured by cotton wool. The other end will be plugged by another ball of cotton wool. The ants will be in the middle. On arrival your ants may be a little confused or cold from the journey. Give them some time to settle before ensuring their water is topped up and they have some food.

What do I do with a single queen?

If you receive a single queen, she will be a mated female. Depending on the species, some females do not require to be fed and will live of their reserves while they lay eggs. Other species require to be fed during this stage so do check the species information.

What do I do with a queen and brood?

If a queen arrived with eggs (brood), these should hatch within 7-14 days on average for most species. Check to see if the queen requires to be fed. Do not disturb the female during this period. Keep in a warm but dark space.

What do I do with a queen and workers?

Some queens may come with workers. These will be small, active workers to start with. Their job is to feed the queen and keep her laying. Workers require regular feeding and water. Once the number of workers gets to 40-50 workers, connect the tube up to a foraging area. this will give the ants more space to roam. Its at this stage that you can also connect the tub to a larger substrate area or pre-formed nest. The ants will move the brood and queen to form a new nest.

How do I feed my ants?

Initially, when in the tube ants can be fed with small drops of honey, sugar water on the inside of the tube. Larger food items can be offered on a small foil tray. This prevents food soiling the nest and makes it easy to clean and swap over.

Once introduced to a foraging area, food can be placed in this area for the ants to collect.

Example of a nest and outworld. There are many examples available to purchase online.

How do I move my ants from one tube or area to another?

There are several ways to encourage ants to move between areas. Most of the time ants will move on their own if conditions are correct. They will look to move for more space or more nest security. If you wish to encourage them to move however, uncover the nest area and expose to light. Cover over the new area and most of the time the ants will move.

Good luck with your new colony. Enjoy watching it grow. Remember you can keep adding on new areas and nests as your colony expands and grows.


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