My interest in tree hives started a few years ago when I followed a swarm of bees from their cluster high up in a tree. They had left the “box hive” and found a cavity in a beech tree about 4m high. I was amazed by the bee’s innate memory to get away from the ground, out of reach from many predators, including humans.
That encounter made me think how I should change my approach. Despite not treating with chemicals, feeding artificial food and minimal intrusion, I wanted to make something more bee centric.
What followed was a design evolution. I began hollowing trunks with fire before moving on to using chainsaw and gouges, inspired by the log hives of the Cevennes region in France.
Despite having success with them, they were heavy to lift off the ground and suitable logs were potentially scarce.
I am now making lighter Cedar wood hives which are 12 sided and insulated. These can be lifted more easily and made in larger quantities.
I am interested in creating extensive communities of bees where they can become strong and resilient by themselves. Their offspring can then be used in more usual hive systems, without the need for importing Queens or getting involved with their reproduction.
The real JOY for me has been to let the bees find these hives and move in without my help. I have had good results already this year and it is more rewarding than anything I have done with bees so far.