Wow. That's sweet. I just ordered the camponotus hybrid nest 2.0 from ants Canada. My ants need the space. However, I love the wood. It's so natural for them. What kind of wood is it? They have never chewed through it?
I was thinking about giving them a block of wood just to give them something to do.
It is a oak slab I believe. I don't know what the round slab I attached it too as a stand is, just a random piece I had laying around. They only wood they actually have access to is the sawdust. If you do the epoxy thing correctly the ants never actually are in contact with the wood. Basically there is a thin layer of plastic (the cured epoxy) between them and the wood. This makes the wood sealed, meaning it absorbs no moisture. The wood will not mold or warp. Unless damaged it will last basically forever. So unless you have a species that will chew through plastic formicariums, which some will do under certain conditions, there is no worries about them chewing on or through this type of homemade formicarium.
When they were in a raw wood set as seen at the beginning of the journal they never chewed on the wood anyways. They did have access to sawdust again, moving it out as they needed the space. From my understanding most Camponotus sp. don't actually chew on wood, more like find cavities, remove soft or already "chewed" wood other insects have damaged, and make a home. They don't have the proper gut microbiota to digest wood cellulose. Camponotus decipiens, what I have here, definitely do not chew on wood. I see them moving the sawdust all about but I have yet to catch one chewing on any pieces. They may in small amounts for whatever reason but if they do it is infrequent enough that my nosy self has not noticed it. Again though, our knowledge on these ladies is not what I'd call a full understanding, so I like giving them sawdust to move about, just in case...
Around the property I see all the wild colonies in wood that has larva and termite tunnels. I can see the pile of "saw dust" they move out and you can tell it is old soft wood or wood that was already loose and chewed on by other insects. Pretty cool ladies I think. I've seen the wild colonies on the property slowly devour a whole termite colony, simply making a big nest as they evicted the "builders" by consumption.
I will make a full walk through of the process in the future. I have a round slab I intend to make into a formicarium for my nieces in the same manner I did for myself. I have another Camponotus decipiens queen who is just getting started. She has a few workers and some brood. I think the nieces will enjoy watching her expanding into a formicarium. Camponotus decipiens are so chill and easy also, great for beginners.