MEDFORD, Ore. -- Throughout the United States and Europe beekeepers have been reporting annual hive losses of 20 percent or higher. One in four bee species in the U.S. is at risk of extinction.
On Wednesday, a local Medford couple had a tree that has been in their front yard for decades removed due to an upcoming road widening project. That tree is also home to around 80,000 honey bees. Instead of killing the bees or destroying their habitat they contacted an arborist that worked with a beekeeper to relocate the entire hive; an 8 ft. 500-600 lb. hive.
This is around the 15th tree-hive that Frison Tree Service has helped relocate to a bee farm, but this one was by far the largest.
“Every tree we go out and assess and evaluate, for either removal’s or general tree health and care, the first thing we look for are bee nests,” said Kevin Frison, the owner of Frison Tree Service.
Moving a hive this large is rare but even finding one of this size is unheard of.
“They are hard to find, first of all,” said Ken Muhlestein, a beekeeper and owner of ZomBee Apiaries, “they’re very rare at this point because of our declining population. They’re all at risk so to actually find bees in a tree that are 20 years old, that’s phenomenal.”
The hive will stay in the tree. Ken says he has no intention of moving them into artificial hives.
“It’s their home. Why destroy their home and try to put them in something I made?” said Muhlestein, “By keeping them in their home hive, it keeps them healthier and safer.”
Although the tree is full of honey comb, Muhlestein also says he has no plans to harvest any honey from this hive.
“You can’t get the comb out of it. All the other hives you can just pull the comb out and harvest it,” said Muhlestein.
If you believe a tree-hive exists on your property you can contact an arborist to come take a look, Frison Tree Service won’t charge anything to come do a first inspection. You can also reach out to the Southern Oregon Beekeepers Association to find a local beekeeper to help relocate any bees you find.