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Wild Colony in my Willow Tree

 
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J Smith
Foraging Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:41 pm    Post subject: Wild Colony in my Willow Tree Reply with quote

We live on an acre and a half here at the bottom of New Zealand, on that wee chunk of land we have three Weeping Willow trees, old trees that show some damage from wind and limb loss. Some of those lost limbs allowed insect and fungal entry to the main trunks and all three trees have some pretty cool voids in them that just scream natural hive.
So far only one wild colony has set up home in one void, high up in the middle tree.






I was hoping these guys might send out a swarm or two this season, but our Summer has been pretty average to say the least and more like Autumn. My guess is they are just doing enough to get by with the cold, rain and winds we have been getting.
Seems to be a small colony, judging by the to and from activity. I am pretty sure the void does not extend down the trunk very far, but have no way of knowing how far up it goes!

Possibility exist for a cut out or trap out, but I kind of like knowing they are there and have two hTBH ready should a swarm be put out. Wink
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent photographs !

Whenever I see examples of feral nests such as this one, I'm reminded of the generalised diagram of a bee nest in Tom Seeley's seminal paper, Nest of the Honey Bee - which unfortunately some people have taken as a real feral nest, and thus a blueprint on which to base hive designs. (but let's not take that any further ...) Smile




Just a bit different from your photographs !

Hope this colony survives ok - it would be good to get more pictures should anything interesting develop ...

'best

Colin
BBC
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Bees build Brace Comb for a reason, not just to be bloody-minded.
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J Smith
Foraging Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Colin, that diagram gives me a better understanding of how things may look on the inside. Very Happy
Some things have changed, the comb immediately obvious at the entrance has disappeared!I believe this may be from predation, from the Australian Brush Tailed Possum. They also enjoy Willow trees and eating their buds, but they are also partial to nectar producing flowers and therefore I think honey.
The opening to the hive is sure big enough for a possum to gain entry and I have seen possums in the tree at night.
As we have no other pest capable of tree climbing and having a sweet tooth, this is all I can put the robbing down to.
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J Smith
Foraging Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been thinking (not always a good thing! Laughing ), these girls have occupied a hollow with a rather large opening that faces South West. The same direction most of our cr@p* weather comes from. Crying or Very sad
We have not had the best Summer on record, but they still seem happy enough.
Now we are headed into Autumn and it will be Winter soon enough, I was thinking they might need some help. We get a LOT of frost nights here over Winter and several snow dumps, snow does not stay long, but it does fall.

I was thinking of adding a small nuc/bait sized box to the front of the hollow, shaped to fit the trunk of the Willow and cover the opening. Maybe half a dozen top bars fitted, a waterproof lid and a landing board with a smaller entrance.
Not to trap them out (too late in the season for that), but to give them a more enclosed space that should be better for them in the Winter and another annex in which to place stores if they wish...... plus the possibility to perhaps lift the bars in Spring to see if they are being used.

What do you think?
Should I leave them bee, or add a small frontal addition that may just help them out?
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