Last summer I was kindly offered a log hive hive from a beekeeping friend of mine. The log had been roughly constructed and the venue that was to be it’s home pulled out – this is where I stepped in. I offered to put the log at one of the sites where I manage an apiary. I was instructed that the log would arrive on a flat-bed lorry with a crane. The site where I would position the log is not near road access so my plan was to crane the log onto a tipping trailer, drive this up to where we wanted it with a tractor and tip the log into a pre-prepared hole. The log was somewhat larger than I was expecting. As it was lifted onto the trailer and I saw the sheer size of it a Triceratops came to mind. The hole that I had dug needed to be made 4 times bigger!
Robert resting after finishing the hole.
The log was so heavy that the trailer wouldn’t tip – this gave us an estimated weight of 3.5 tons. My fantasy of a swift installation in time to catch the end of the swarming season were shattered and a period of intense head scratching began. Many possible solutions were proposed but most of them involved abandoning the plan of using the log as a tree hive, rolling it off the side of the trailer and turning it into a bench. This is when I called on a good friend of mine, Steve, who is a tree surgeon and specializes in moving ridiculously heavy logs. He had some specialist equipment including a very heavy duty winch so we decided to give it a go.
Theo driving the log to it’s new home.
The tractor pulled the trailer to where we wanted it easily enough so the next stage is getting the log off the trailer with killing anyone. The plan was to back the trailer into position, then using the winch drag the log off the back and drop it into the hole.
We attached the winch and began to attempt to drag the log off but it wasn’t moving. We then added levers to wobble the log to get some movement happening. With Steve rocking the log and me winching, it slowly began to move.
Inch by inch the log moved further towards the hole until finally, with a crash, it dropped.
The next challenge was to get the log upright. If we continued to winch it there was nothing stopping it rolling to the floor so we decided to add a strop pulling at 90 degrees attached to Steve’s truck. In this way we could control the lift more easily.
The log then gently rose into it’s final resting place.
Rigorous health and safety checks were carried out.
The log is oak as are many of the standard trees on site. With the log now in position it looks as if it has always been here. Now the log needed to be prepared for the bees to move in. The door to the cavity itself is extremely heavy and took 2 people to lift while I fitted the hinges. I then drilled 3 entrance holes for the bees and added spales in the cavity to support the comb and some wax and propolis to make the cavity smell attractive to the bees.
Wax and propolis around the entrance holes.
The inside of the cavity, with spales to support the comb and sawdust debris on the floor.
I am now happy to report that bees have moved into the log and are beginning the process of building a nest. I will post some more photos and an update of how this new family is doing soon.