A live hive: If a honey tree falls in the forest, could you taste its honey?

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    Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
    The tree's inhabitants.

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    Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
    The hive-reassembly sequence: John and Jim Schlemmer “put the puzzle back together,” at the scene...

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    Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
    ... Moments later, John gets stung and, hat flying, gets away from the swarm (later neighbor Brian Hukari used a front-loader to put it on Jim’s trailer ...

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    Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
    ... On the Eby Road property Nov. 8, Michael Becker helps the Schlemmers and Bobcat operator Joe Turkiewicz prepare to tip the oak log upright ...

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    Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
    ... Bees swarming at the top opening.

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    Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
    Schlemmer’s daughter, Audry, climbs the oak to put a temporary plywood cap atop the log, to keep out rainwater. “There’s a lot of honey in there. They’re going to survive in there,” Jim said. “Plenty of room for their winter storage. And it’s a big colony.” Schlemmer carved out part of the log interior to protect the comb from damage, and plans a door or hatch at chest level for bee viewing.



The wind blew down an oak midday on Nov. 3 in Kendra and Conor Kelly’s front yard, a tree the family cherished for its shade and beauty as well as for the live colony of bees in its trunk.

And despite its tumble, the hive and honeycomb were saved through the kind of teamwork that bees could truly admire.

When the tree blew over, the Kelly family watched it happen, while fearing for the fate of the bees (likely Italian honeybees — apis mellifera ligustica) who were heading into hibernation. The tree split on impact, damaging a neighboring orchard fence and exposing a six-foot long comb — and its 10,000 inhabitants — to the cold.

The Kellys called Grow Organic, who put them in touch with Jim Schlemmer, a Hood River woodworker and beekeeper who not only worked to save the hive but also to keep it in the trunk of the tree. “It’s for the bees, and for the adventure,” he said.

Over the course of four days, Schlemmer and his brother, John, visiting from Cleveland, made three visits to the Kelly home on Kenwood Drive, south of Hood River, and literally pieced the hive back together, wrapping it in straps, putting it on a trailer, and relocating it to Schlemmer’s home on Eby Road, where they laboriously set it upright.

“We were lucky it happened in cold weather, as they were pretty calm,” Schlemmer said. Both brothers picked up a few stings in the process, however.

The hive will have a permanent place — at least as long as the bees decide to stay. Schlemmer said he’ll know in the spring.

Video

A live hive

A tree containing a live colony of bees blew down in a local family's front yard.  Find out what happened next by reading the story here: bit.ly/1MJKdu2.

A tree containing a live colony of bees blew down in a local family's front yard. Find out what happened next by reading the story here: bit.ly/1MJKdu2.



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dpepper 2 years, 8 months ago

Jim Schlemmer made two beautiful office desks for us from a 100 year old silver maple (taken down before it fell!) which had a similar bee hive inside . The bees can make their hive inside because the tree had a rotten core. Nice work, Jim! (both on saving this hive, and making our desks.)

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