Tom´s Tree – “Natural” Tree Cavity

Beelogger for Tom Seeley in Arnot Forest

In the fall of 2017, I made Thomas Seeley an offer he couldn’t possibly refuse. I offered him 10 of my just finished Beeloggers to use in the Arnot Forest in the natural tree cavities he knows. I wrote him an e-mail with all the information about the data loggers and offered to climb into the trees with him.

Thomas Seeley answered quickly and firmly: Unfortunately no time.

Hommade “natural” tree cavity

After this unexpected refusal I decided to build my own “natural” tree cavities. My friend Tom (not Seeley) sawed me several cavities at dizzying heights into living trees according to the average geometries of natural tree cavities determined in “The nest of the Honeybee”. The cavities are arranged in the trees in such a way that the thinnest wall thickness on the side of the flying hole is 10-12cm. Several Beeloggers are mounted on each tree and record the humidity at the edge of the cavity, in honeycomb construction and even in the wood surrounding the cavity.

The first two tree cavities went into operation in spring 2018. Two natural swarms of untreated colonies have entered the trees. I will report on the development in 2019.

The peg installed in the top element can be removed to attach a honey chamber. All three elements can be removed at any time to control the colony. The inside of the elements is covered with a wax sheet.

Takeover of the tree cave by dormice, woodpecker and great tit

From a beekeeping point of view, the project must be considered a failure for the time being. The dormice, woodpecker and great tit have taken over the two caves. Already in 2018 the oak was taken over by the dormouse in a surprise coup. Bees and honeycomb were completely removed in the summer and a separate nest was installed instead. In winter/spring 2019, a woodpecker discovered the beech for itself and worked on it. Several traces on the tree and an already properly enlarged cave entrance are evidence of this. Maybe the noise of the construction is the reason for the collapse of this tribe in early 2019. The woodpecker has not yet moved in, apparently the construction does not (yet) suit the female. Instead, a pair of great titmice moved in, including their offspring :-).

I have decided not to use bees again. I will completely take over the role of an observer of these tree cavities and I am looking forward to see who will move in in 2020. Maybe some day some bees will come along on their own…