City Trees

May/June 2015

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16 City Trees This Roundtable asks city foresters and bee- keepers about ways to save honeybees in city trees and parks. City foresters also share their approach to dealing with wasps, yellow jackets, and aggressive Africanized bees. There has been, in the last ten or so years, a large increase in the number of people practicing back- yard beekeeping. They and more veteran beekeepers may be able to help with a hive removal. You can con- tact your Cooperative Extension office for a list of local beekeepers or see online directories like www.beecul- and People may not be aware that once bees are away from the hive, most honeybees are not at all aggressive, and some aren't even aggressive when you're close to the hive. If the hive is out of the way (like the one in a tree in one of our downtown parks that is about 15 to 20 feet/5 to 6 m up, in a decayed cavity), most people will never know it's there. This particular park is the site of a weekly, very active farmers market, and we've never had a complaint about the bees. I suspect most people don't know they are there. If we do have to do a tree removal, the only method I've seen used here that has a chance of saving the hive involves pruning away the wood above the top point in the hive, then tying off the section of trunk with the hive, cutting below it, and lowering it onto a waiting truck to be sped away to some safe place. The trunk is then set on the ground and the bees are left to fend for themselves. The move is disruptive, but it may allow the colony to survive. The local arborist who has done this procedure borrows a bee suit for the final cutting stage, but up to that moment the bees really don't seem to be stirred up by the noise and commotion. If there is a colony that simply has to be eradicated, most beekeepers recommend a 1:1 water:dish soap mix. Put this in a sprayer of some sort, and dose the bees. It not only suffocates them (as with an insec- ticidal soap), but the thickness of the mixture gums up their wings, etc. The advantage of this approach is there is very little chance of unintended damage to non-target organisms, and it's very effective—I've heard of people using it to take out hives of Africanized bees. Certainly permethrin or carbaryl will do the job as well, but being actual chemical toxins, they have a bigger chance of unintended damage. Wasps are a bit different, in that they have few folks out there talking up their ecological value. They are actual- ly pretty good predators of landscape pest insects, so that's a plus. Out here we often get the ground-nesting Western yellow jacket, and the combination of their nat- urally hostile disposition and their ability to sting multi- ple times without dying (unlike honeybees) make them much more problematic. We would take control actions if either our grounds crew or the public had complaints about them. If it's possible to find the nest entrance, then a dusting of the entrance area with permethrin or carbaryl in a powder form might be effective. Bee hives can be tricky to spot, as they almost always S M A R O U N D T A B L E Bees in Municipal Trees and Parks Albuquerque City Forester Joran Viers is also a beekeeper. Photo by Jessica Viers

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