Sunday, January 17, 2010

Honey Bees And Oak

Over the years we have seen an increase in the honeybee population in our flower gardens. They are everywhere, hundreds upon hundreds on plants throughout and they don't mind my working right along side of them (yellow jackets are another story). Since we do not have hives, where did they come from? Where do they go when they leave our garden? We are aware that neighbors several miles away have a few hives, but did these bees come from there? I have read that bees usually travel about a mile to gather food and perhaps upwards of 5 miles.

(click on the photos to see these beautiful creatures)

Yesterday afternoon following many hours of working outside, raking and cutting back some plants, we had showered and were within an hour of heading out to be wined and dined by friends (that's what they said they were going to do... and they did indeed!). My husband was standing at his office window and began repeating, I can't believe this... I don't believe it... unbelievable... What?! Come here and see.

Across and along the driveway lay our 70 foot oak. It was face down and lay parallel to the deer fence and one of our neighbor's homes. Thankfully we did not receive the wind and gusts that had been forecast, for who knows what damage might have occurred. Work clothes back on and off we went to at least clear the drive until today when the tree would be cut into manageable pieces.

These fast growing oaks here in the Pacific northwest are brittle and as you can see are more a softwood and susceptible to rotting, and as is evident from the photos, the saturated soil expedited the process and the roots simply snapped. Years ago we had discovered woodpeckers living in the hollow of the upper section of the tree; then yellow jackets took up residence until our power company came to check the overhead utility line and got rid of them. Little did we suspect that honey bees had built there hive in this tree.

As my husband is cutting up more of the wood, I am attempting to find out what to do. I just sent off a note to an acquaintance who has a hive in order to seek advice. The county extension service is of course closed, so now I will scurry about to find out how or even if we can save them. Before we left for dinner last night we covered them over with a tarp so they wouldn't be exposed to the rain. My heart will ache if they cannot be saved.

and today, beneath the blue tarp all seem to be doing well.