If you’ve visited Tortworth lately you may have noticed a little more buzz than usual!

Over the past few months essential tree-work has taken place at the Arboretum; removing deadwood as well as other limbs considered a danger according to a recent survey assessing the health of the collection. There were also a small number of trees considered at risk of falling, which were then felled in a controlled way to ensure the safety of all those who use the arboretum as part of the projects, volunteering, attending events or as a hirer. One of those included a dead standing Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea). Work was previously carried out in 2016 to remove the crown, but it was now judged to be very decayed with cracks appearing. It was a very rich habitat, with multiple bees nests and woodpeckers previously nesting, but sadly also at risk of falling.

A rich habitat indeed! Soon the team found themselves contending with some justifiably angry bees! It’s thought the well established colony may have been there years, judging by the extent of honeycomb discovered inside well rotten tree trunk.

Whilst Collection Manager Jake contacted experts for advice, regulars to the Dell watched in fascination as the hive worked together to gather and relocate precious honey stores. Other insects such as wasps and hornets were quick to arrive, helping themselves to the now exposed riches. A vast number of the hive remained together surrounding the queen whilst the others worked and scouts left the tree in search of a new shelter. It was a captivating display of teamwork!

After a few days under a makeshift umbrella our Tuesday volunteers arrived to discover the last of the bees have vacated, and the tree is now empty.

We’re very much hoping the bees will be happy in their new home, wherever it may be!

Some charming collective nouns for bees:
charm of bees
cluster of bees
game of bees
hum of bees
rabble of bees