Observations of bees in the wild have shown us that colonies mostly choose to nest several metres above the ground. As our trustee Jonathan Powell writes in his article "Tree Beekeeping: Reviving a Lost Tradition", Tree Beekeeping is a 1,000 year old practice of keeping bees in slots, cut high above the ground into living pine, lime and oak trees, akin to the natural homes of bees. The tree hive is designed so that the tree is not harmed and will continue to live for many years. Traditionally care of the bees and the tree was passed on from one generation to the next, and the tree was protected by law.
If you want to ffind out more or follow in the footsteps of the Tree Beekeeping masters, the trust has produced the unique Tree Beekeeping field guide, which is available for download now:
A hive in the heart of a tree. Celebrating Britain's first!
A hive in the heart of a tree - Celebrating France's first!
A hive in a tree log. Celebrating free bees in the USA! Michael Thiele
Log hives, a form of tree hive, can be fashioned from trees blown down in storms or felled when at risk of falling. On his website "Bee Kind Hives", trustee Matthew Somerville writes at length on the theory and practice of these exquisite hives, which can be placed high in trees or on the ground. For further insight into this method of caring for the bees, please see this video in which Trustee Matt Somerville and John Haverson demonstrate how to construct a Cévennes style Trunk Hive.
In the USA, Michael Thiele of Apis Arborea has done much to draw attention to the benefits of offering bees log hives as well as tree hives to build their nests in.
Traditionally trees are marked with a Tamga cut into the bark to indicate ownership of the hive. This is Jonathan Powell's Tamga; Connecting the heart and head.
Platform used to make a tree hive
Looking in the entrance slot of a Tree Hive. Welcome comb fitted to ceiling, spales and entrance plug extending into hive. Comb above the entrance plug is never touched. It belongs to the bees.