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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 17th year of beekeeping in April 2022. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper. (678) 597-8443

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

News of the Bee Tree

Back in August, I was lucky to be a part of a rescue of a bee tree by Atlanta's Odd Job Tree Removal company. Later a second bee tree was sectioned and put next to the first one. I put hive boxes on top of both tree sections. Then I fed the bees in both trees heavily during the fall and then crossed my fingers that they would make it through the winter.

I went to visit the trees at the end of February. In the first big tree section, the hive had obviously died. There were dead bees lying near the entrance as you can see in the picture below.

I stuck my camera in the hole and took a picture of the interior. Here's how it looked: Some shards of comb and dead bees lining the floor of the opening.

I'm short of 8 frame medium boxes so I decided on Thursday to go over to retrieve my equipment from the dead bee tree. Amazingly, it was teeming with bees. I watched as obvious bee residents flew in and out of the opening. I went in to speak to Annette in the tree company office. She said that on Wednesday suddenly there had been a lot of activity. Then today she noticed that the bees were living in the tree.

I guess a swarm moved into the tree on Wednesday and is happily occupying this space!

The second bee tree, which did make it through the winter, also is full of bees. Here they are hanging out of the hive opening. I didn't open the hive box on top of the second section, but tried to lift it. The bottom box is obviously filled with honey.

I'm considering what to do at this point. The bees in this tree have begun using the hive box which is a good sign. What I think I'll do is reverse the boxes and put the empty box over the hive opening at the top of the section. Then I'll put the honey-filled box over that. Perhaps the bees will then begin to use the comb in the now-empty box and we'll get them to move in to the wooden box as a choice of theirs.

I'll let you know what I discover when I go over and inspect the hive box on top of this tree section.

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  1. Wow, those photos are amazing.

    Perhaps the swarm smelled the wax and honey, and moved into this appealing tree?

  2. How cool that the new swarm moved into the tree!

  3. Very cool! I'm glad I found this blog post as I am a beekeeper myself as well doing tree removal for a living.

  4. I was looking forward to a spring follow-up on the bee tree. I'm glad to hear it survived the winter.

  5. Anonymous3:08 PM

    I know that in the USA we can't keep bees in skeps, but it puzzles me every time I read that it is "illegal to keep bees in a tree". If a tree in one's yard has bees in it, is it illegal to leave it alone? I don't know. But once you relocate it, now your "keeping" it? I know it can't be inspected that way, but neither could it if it was left alone. Are feral bees in trees refugees from the law? Love this website by the way!

  6. We have enjoyed knowing there was a bee tree at the edge of our yard for several years. The hollow tree had a racoon's nest in it years ago, but we have observed bees coming and going for 3 or 4 years now. The opening was probably 30 or 40 feet up until Hurricane Irma came along. When the eye wall of Irma hit our area, the bee tree came down! Because the tree had been on the edge of HOA land, we called the Home Owners Association to come remove it assuming they would handle the bee removal appropriately, etc. They halved the tree right through the lowest part of the hollow and tried to kill the bees with a can of hornet spray and then left saying they would come remove the tree from our yard when the swarm had died. :( We were distraught and not the least bit sad that they haven't been back. Good thing they had no idea what they were up against. Within a few days the bees were active again. The old entrance was now blocked- laying face down on the ground. But the bees made their way through the remnant's of the racoon's nest. Soon the hive was very active in our hot Florida fall. We were thrilled to have them despite the fact that we couldn't avoid their flight paths in our small (20 yards square) yard.

    We were brokenhearted a few days ago to find the tree had been abandoned! Some animal had pulled out the tangle of sticks and guano and eaten a bit of the honeycomb just beyond it. And every bit of honey has been removed from the remaining hive! The comb is dry and has no smell of honey at all. I can't believe the bees efficiency. My husband sadly began cutting up the tree to remove it from out yard and came across a few larvae that are alive. He wondered if we can leave sections of the tree to entice the bees to return. I wondered if we can render the wax. Any thoughts on how to proceed?


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