Dead Tree, Live Bees
The tree had been cut down and only when it hit the ground did the chain saw guy realize a hive of bees was living in a hollow section about 25 feet up. They called me and I went up to see if we could save them.
With a front end loader, we got the trunk into the back of our pickup. When we got home, we used another front end loader to position the trunk in place against a 5 foot concrete pole which was set deep in the ground. We braced it with two ratcheting cables around the bottom half. Joseph made a “hat” that kept the weather out.
Because they’d lost their entire store of honey (that part smashed when the tree hit the ground), I fed them back pretty much most of the honey I had from my other hives. That’s why I’m a honey hoarder. When something like this happens, I have enough honey to carry them through to spring.
The hive did really well for a year, but last summer during the drought, the alder started to split and I didn’t think it would make it through another winter.
Found a lost bee? Read this: How to Rescue a Honeybee
Moving the Tree Hive
Anticipating moving it, I put a two box Warre hive on top, and by fall most of the hive had moved up into it for winter. I really didn’t want to move it at all, but the splits in the sides were getting wider and compromising the hive, so finally in September Joseph and our friend Tel chainsawed off the upper few feet. Then, with the Warre on top, we moved it under cover about 15 feet away. Traumatic as the move was to me, the bees took it really well.
I was still concerned about the integrity of the trunk, so I decided to put 3 Lang boxes around the base, just in case. The trunk sits snugly inside it and if any splits get bigger, the frame will hold the base together. Because the hive directly faces the wind, I nailed a cross-brace behind it so the wind couldn’t push it that way. Then we tied the whole thing securely to the base of the structure.
Now when the wind blows, I feel a LOT better knowing everyone is safe. If you haven’t done this to your hives, go ahead. It will prevent problems later.