What Nest When?
So there's lots to explain, but in short the most important thing is not to rush them from the test tube, keep them in the dark, place on a shelf or in a draw, somewhere quite and free from vibrations. This will help your queen feel safe and secure whilst she raises her first brood into Nanitics (the name for the first workers). Your queen would of fattened up before leaving the nest and will not require feeding during this time. The hardest part for you now is to not look to often, once every 2 weeks is fine. Just a quick peek before placing back in the draw. There are 3 egg stages you will see, eggs are like small dots, they will cluster them together and carry them about in clusters like this, Larva, the next stage are like small maggots, they are always calling for their queen to feed them, and finally, Pupae stage, this is when they form a cocoon and prepare to hatch, this process takes about 8-10 weeks for medium size ants. Once hatched they will take a short time to harden up and darken in colour. If you have picked a native species which make life much easier, they will not require heating although keeping them warm will speed up growth rate of the brood.
Once your workers arrive you have options.
Keeping your Ants in their test tube for as long as possible is always advised, check out our YouTube channel for a video explaining test tube feeding. Whist it is advised, it is not always suitable, Test tube feedings can be hard for a beginner and quite daunting.
Placing your small colony in a large nest to early can have a massive impact on the colony even leading to total failure. Add more nest space as your colony grows.
If you like to know more, we do a learning subscription service, we send you everything you need as and when you need it, with monthly guides pack full of information to help guide you though the length of the course.
The next part is very species dependant, Smaller Species we recommend waiting to around 50-100 workers until moving into a Starter Nest, often founding nests are still large for smaller Ants.
For larger species we recommend waiting to 20-40 workers and micro species would recommend keeping them in a large barriered tub or outworld at this point.
Past this, we recommend you add further nests as expansions and allow them to fill the space as required, in the case you wish to empty a nest of ants, expose this nest to the light by removing the covers, and place dark covers on the new nests.
Handy Hint: Look out for numbered products corresponding to each stage