14 Aug A Wild (or is it “Feral”?) colony
Over the past 2 years or so, I have been watching the progress of a “wild” colony situated about 2 miles down the estuary about 12 feet up an old Beech tree.
I visited it again today to see how it had fared this Summer.
There was big activity with lots of bees making flight lines and returning with mixed loads.
I was impressed to see new comb hanging out of the entrance alongside what I now realise must be very old comb that has, over time, weathered to look as if it is part of the tree.
My conclusion was that this must be a well used site either for a long-standing and long living colony, or – and this is more likely – that it is an old site, repeatedly used over the years as older colonies have died out.
There have been a number of interesting studies done over the years to try and understand whether there are any truly wild honey bees left in the UK.
Here is a link to an article on the BBC website which discusses the research done by Dr Catherine Thompson, from the University of Leeds.
So it is likely then that these bees are “feral” rather than “wild”.
In the pictures below the new comb can be seen at the apex of the cleft in the tree.
Interestingly it seems someone carved their name on the trunk in 1938 which gives an idea on the age of the tree itself.