Hi! I am JC and I am just starting out on my ant keeping journey.
In this first post, I will be sharing a little bit of background about myself, along with my plans for future posts and topics that I hope to cover.
Before that, I would like to say a big thank you to The Colonialist for inviting me to post on his site. I am a big fan, and so when he suggested that I be a guest author, I was honoured but also very concerned that my content wouldn't be good enough. That is still a worry, but if nothing else I am hoping that at least a few of you will benefit by learning from my mistakes :)
I live in northern England and have always loved nature, ever since I was a kid. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this was quickly followed by a keen interest in science and technology. I currently work as a software developer and my hobbies are extremely ecliptic, ranging from computer gaming to jewellery making (see my instagram for more info). I also enjoy listening to a variety of music, from pop punk to country.
I have always been fascinated by social insects and wanted to keep bees at the age of 11. Obviously, my parents wouldn't let me, but they did arrange for me to go and help a local bee keeper look after his hives, which I was thrilled about.
Around that time was also when I got my first ant colony - Myrmica Rubra. Back then, there wasn't half the community or support available to new ant keepers that there is now. The choice of commercially available nests was also a lot more limited. So, not knowing any better, I kept them in an "Ant World" like this:
It was far from ideal, being more of a toy than being designed to meet the ants needs. Despite that, my colony did fairly well and flourished for about 12-18 months, but then they unfortunately started to slowly decline. I now think it was due to me not hibernating them correctly. I moved them into a shed for the winter, but I think it was still too warm as I still saw active foragers, and therefore continued to feed them.
I haven't kept ants since then as I didn't want to risk another colony coming to any harm because of my poor care.
Hopefully, with the resources and support that is available today, my new colonies will fare much better.
I think my posts will be most beneficial to other inexperienced ant keepers. Although, of course, the more experienced among you are more than welcome to follow along, and any tips or advice would be gratefully received.
There are a lot of extremely knowledgeable and experienced ant keepers on Facebook and Youtube, and I highly recommend that new or prospective ant keepers watch or read as much as they possibly can from those people.
However, as a new ant keeper myself, I feel I might be able to offer a perspective that they cannot. It is likely that I will come up against the same problems or questions as others in my situation. And whilst I won't necessarily have the best solution, I will be able to share what I did, and how that decision turned out. So if it goes right for me, you might choose to do the same. Or if it all goes horribly wrong, at least you will know what NOT to do :)
I currently only have a single two queen founding colony of Camponotus Nicobarensis, but intend to add more in the near future. I will try and keep posts for each colony separate from each other, even if that means multiple posts on the same day. I also intend to do some other posts about home made nests at some point, which I will also try and keep separate.
I would also like to apologise in advance because whilst I will do my best to post updates as and when things occur, with work and other commitments, that won't always be possible for me. So please expect some backdated posts.
I look forward to introducing you all to my first colony very shortly.
Ants & The Colonialist