Preserving a wild colony on a windswept hillside in France
5 years ago a colony of feral bees were identified as living high in a large dead oak tree. 18 Months ago the tree fell in a storm and since then these bees have survived in their hollow log home, laying on the ground in a field on a windswept hillside in France. Inevitability the time to clear the tree had arrived today. On our arrival many hundreds of dead bees could be seen under the entrance hole, not a good sign that all was well inside.
After clearing branches we made a cut at the thicker (lower) end of the trunk, by luck we just missed the bottom of the nest and revealed a comb with honey. But no Bees. 4 meters further up the tree we made the first cut and then another and another each cut 30 or 40 cm along from the last.. we soon found old dry comb, bird nests and fungus also a lot of rainwater in the lowest part of the log.
Now at the entrance hole one more cut and suddenly there were bees, lots of bees. We threw a blanket over the end of the log, chained it up and carefully lifted it to its new home, in a copse a few hundred meters away. A few planks fixed on the ends and 3 new ports drilled and hopefully these bees can carry on living in their old oak log for many a year.
Observation: Very black bees, fairly aggressive and the total length of the nest almost 4 meters...now down to just under 2 meters.Branches placed over entrance to help bees re orientate.