Feral Honey Bee Rescue
I accompanied Bertie and Marshal to a logging site to save a small colony of honey bees in a 16 foot section of Doulas fir located in Oregon's coast range north of Siletz. The bees were using the top end of a long opening to the hollow space.
This entrance was 53 feet high. The tree with the bees had been felled in the canyon and brought up to the landing by yarder. A large machine that uses cable to reach logs far down the steep hills and drags them up to a more level site, the landing. Where they can be loaded onto trucks.
Marshal used a chainsaw to shorten this log to about a 10 foot piece that contained the hollow with the bees.
Once the ends of the log were cut the hollow was exposed and samples could be collected of the debris below the colony. I reached as far as possible into the log to get the first sample of the debris.
These samples contained abundant dropped termite wings. Termites (Oregon's dampwood termite) were probably the founder of this hollow. The wings were those of the male and female termites that are released from the colony in large numbers during spring and fall. These individually fly from their parent colony to mate and establish a new colony, but most are not successful as they are eaten by birds and other insectivors. If they are successful they drop their wings and commence with egg production and the establishment of a new termite colony.
The attachment of the wings is fragile so that wings can be easily shed. Thus in the frantic scramble to fly away from the parent colony many lose their wings. Many creatures that live in tree hollows rely on a previous inhabitant that actually create the hollow. Hollow creators in our PNW forests include carpenter ants and woodpeckers as well as dampwood termites. One of our tiny forest owls, the screech owl, depends on the pileated woodpeckers to create hollows for their nests.