Thursday, June 23, 2011

Feral Honey Bees - Urban Habitat?


While plants for nectar and pollen are important for gardeners to provide, I have another theory as to why honey bees seem to be around less, at least in my neighborhood.

Wild populations are necessary for the health of any species. So where do those feral population live in an increasingly urban world? No one wants a huge bee colony nearby,even individual bees scare the bejeebees out of most.

In our neighborhood honeybees were very common most of my life. They tended to colonize old trees that had rotted out centers that could be entered high above the heads of the pedestrian population of humans, so go unnoticed. But many severe storms and a replacing sidewalks program and utility companies worried about future damage cutting the trees to the point of causing death or such an ugly site that owners finally removed the entire tree, has caused a real lack of honey bee habitat to occur in this community. So honey bees have just about disappeared unless you live near someone with hives raising honeybees.
My own daughter had just such colony in a tree in her front yard and lost it to a new sidewalk and the presumption of its aging danger.

So I'm guessing our feral honeybee population will remain minimal for many years to come. Chicago seems determined to replace its lost trees but it will take many years and a change in attitude toward aging trees and the seeming danger of storms to recover anywhere near the population of wild honey bees once enjoyed here.

At the native California plant garden , Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, near LA in California there is a wonderful site. The slowly disappearing felled tree known to house a honey bee colony for over 400 years which is still thriving within the remains. Where else could this be left to continue to provide a habitat for bees?

2 Comments:

Blogger Barbara E said...

Yes! What a great post! I have a bee hive in a cavity in an avocado tree in my front yard. I called an arborist about it many years ago and he said the hive was keeping that part of the tree from rotting more since it is coated with bee's wax. I also called to see if we could get the hive moved. No one would do it because it is pretty inaccessible. I am ashamed to say we even tried poisoning it for fear that the bees were too close to the front door. The bees came back, eating through both plastic and metal screen that we used to cover the hole. They have been there for at least 15 years now, and we co-exist just fine.

28/6/11 12:35 AM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Thank you Barbara. 15 years coexisting with a bee hive right outside the front door. I suspect it happens more often than people realize. When the opening to the hive is very high up the flight path is way over head and not in conflict with human movement.
While I prefer native bees in the immediate vicinity wild honey bees would not be vacated...lol.

29/6/11 11:46 AM  

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