Trees have been homes for wild honeybees for vast lengths of time, long before ‘beekeeping’ came about. With various problems occurring for honeybees in a semi-domesticated situation, we can learn from observing bees in their chosen wild habitat, see where they live and how they behave when living freely.
I’ve found and am monitoring wild honeybee colonies in the forest, part of an ongoing project. It’s interesting to see which trees the bees choose, how they live, and if this matches what’s expected.
Some of the wild honeybee nests are in living trees, some in dead. A good nest site is the right size cavity, with the right size entrance. I’ve noticed that it doesn’t seem so crucial, which direction the entrance faces, or what height on the tree it is – these are examples of observations that add to what we know about wild honeybees.
I’ve written articles about veteran trees for Natural Bee Husbandry and The Beekeepers Quarterly. I’m an Associate of the Natural Beekeeping Trust and my work is supported by them. Other projects are in the air, and information about them will be posted here when there are any updates or announcements.
A hot topic at the moment is that of pollinators, and how the presence of honeybees may have a negative impact on available nectar/pollen sources. It’s good that this is being spoken of, but it’s important that clarity happens. It’s my opinion that although wild honeybees in trees may be the same species as ‘domesticated’ hobby/agricultural honeybees in beehives, major implications about modern beekeeping practices need to be seriously taken into account, before any decisions or judgements are made.
I’m writing an article that addresses these issues, which will be published in due course.