Hi all - sorry this is going to be a long one!
So we are in sunny (at the moment) Perth, Australia, and are very lucky to live on a nice bush block with a fair amount of forage. We have had a feral hive high in a tree since we have been here (7+ years), and late last summer bought a Nuc of very calm bees from a local supplier. Our Nuc is maintaining it’s small size through winter, but seems happy & healthy and I’m sure will expand once the orchard starts blossoming.
We have been having some work done at our property which necessitated an almost dead tree adjacent to the feral hive to be removed. I explained carefully to the tree lopper where the hive was and to be very careful with that tree. Inagine our surprise when all of a sudden a large swarm of angry bees are chasing him around the property! Initially we thought that he had upset the hive we knew about but it turns out there was a second hive in a hollow branch of the tree he felled. This hive survived being dropped about 5m to the ground and then rolled down into the gulley!!! Being the middle of winter and given that I only have one tiny hive I thought the best course of action would be to leave them as they would likely have honey stores to get them through winter, and they have made it!. Now that we are coming up to spring, though, I am worried they will be decimated by ants once the weather heats up. The log has large openings at each end and a small 2.5cm round hole in the middle which must have been their entrance it the tree. The log is extremely heavy so cannot be lifted and would require a chainsaw to cut (which I’m guessing the bees won’t like!) So I have a couple of thoughts on what to do and wanted the opinion of all:
Block up both ends so they only have the small hole at the top to give them a chance of defending themselves from the ants.
Place a hive over the hole with frames in in the hope of getting them to move up into it so we can get them out of the log. We can semi seal this to give them a small entrance which again they will hopefully defend.
If they control the ants leave them as a log hive and add the super on top at some point to harvest when/ if our second brood box is full
Leave a Nuc box near the hive in case they decide to leave their hive home.
I know this may seem like a crazy idea, but I do feel responsible for these bees losing their safe home in the tree, but I just don’t see how we can do a cutout here. We could use a bee vacuum that a friend has but that would kill so many and not get out any of their stores or young so they would have to start from scratch.
The log hive may ultimately fail as our own hive is standing in oil because the ants are so aggressive here. It might mean that the bees won’t be able to defend even a small entrance, but as I said previously the log weight 100s kilos so cannot be moved or cut!
Anyway thanks for reading the ramblings - any advice would be appreciated.