We’ve reported here before about the bee tree that was cut down as part of the “improvements” to Glen Canyon Park – and the one that was killed by mistake when someone thought it was a nest of yellow-jackets, not bees. This meant that only one of the three wild bee trees was still a living hive. We recently had both good news and bad news. There’s still only one bee tree, but the bees have proved resilient.
Karen Peteros wrote this note, which is published with permission.
BEE TREES IN GLEN CANYON by Karen Peteros
Scott Mattoon and I have been working with RPD [San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department] Capital Improvements since 2011 to minimize adverse impacts Glen Canyon Park improvements could have on our feral honey bee colonies.
One bee tree was lost on the hill above the Rec Center. Despite many many meetings with RPD, and a negotiated agreement to cut that bee tree at 25′ and otherwise leave it alone, the subcontractor failed to get that instruction and cut the tree at 5′. The trunk split and the colony exposed, but I was able to save the remaining bees and queen and install them in a Langstroth hive.
The bee tree that Scott discovered to have had its hive opening spray-foamed shut a few years back (above where Islais Creek goes underground) due to mistaken identification as a culprit of a nearby sting incident, seems to have reopened and a swarm moved in last year. That colony has done well, and recently swarmed (I understand Philip Gerrie retrieved the swarm).
After many discussions, emails and meetings with RPD, Scott and I have convinced RPD to leave that tree alone for now. It has a substantial lean but, if it were to fall, it would not cross the path especially if RPD would cut off the top limbs right above the crotch where the limbs grow out of the main trunk. That’s been our recommendation but it has not yet been done to reduce the risks if it were to fall.
As usual RPD does what it wants — under-doing things by not cutting the limbs to reduce the risks if the tree were to fall which has been their stated concern but also over-doing things by placing the orange fence around the tree unreasonably suggesting the bees are a safety hazard when they are not. Nonetheless, the orange fence has served to be educational to bring park goers’ attention to honey bees in a natural habitat.
Finally, the very large mother bee tree, fenced down near Silvertree, with the opening in the base is undisturbed but the colony died out after many years of perpetuating itself.
I have not seen any bee activity there since late last year.
Give the wax moths another year or more and, hopefully, the cavity will be cleaned out sufficiently to be deemed suitable by a future swarm looking to set up residence.
Glen Park neighborhood resident & beekeeper
San Francisco Bee-Cause
Sometimes I wonder if the parks and the animals that live in them would be better off if there were no park employees. Do the parks belong to the employees or the taxpayers who pay their salaries? A closely related question.