Native bees entering their hive.
Native bees entering their hive.

Massive blue gum stump in Gympie a unique insight to bees

A MASSIVE blue gum stump now in residence at the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee's Stewart Terrace premises gives a message about taking care of native bees.

Local apiarist and Valley Bees member Glenbo Craig said that when trees were being cut down most people were not even aware that there may be a native bee colony inhabiting the tree.

"Native bees are an important part of the forest ecology, but are fast running out of suitable nest sites,” Mr Craig said.

MRCCC project officers Jess Dean (at back) and Kath Nash examine the native bees. The hive is in the large bole.
BEE-ING THERE: MRCCC project officers Jess Dean (at back) and Kath Nash examine the native bees. The hive is in the large bole. RIGHT: The bees entering their hive.

"Have a look at what is being cut down and check for activity.”

The presence of the 1.3 tonne stump is a long tale, starting where the tree was growing in the upper reaches of Yandina Creek.

Mr Craig said the tree was shedding branches and posed a significant danger to people.

He said local tree removal expert Peter Velenski, who is also interested in native bees, was hired to remove the tree, but noticed an active hive and notified the Craig family who then worked with Valley Bees and the MRCCC to give the stump its protected final resting place, complete with functioning hive.

"This tree and the bee hive had to be removed,” Mr Craig said.

"The problem is that many trees are cut down to get at the hives. The correct and only place for the trees and the hives is to remain in the forest and help retain nature's balanced ecology.”

The two stems on the stump measure about 900mm and 650mm and were the fork in the main trunk about 6m from the ground. It took the combined, careful and expert manoeuvring of trucks and cranes to deliver the stump on site.

A second native bee hive was found after the tree had been felled and was successfully rescued and placed in a box hive.

Native bees are only 4-5mm long and the entrance to their hive just allows entrance and is hard to find, but there is often a dark area around the entrance caused by resin used to protect the entrance from intruders.

Contrary to honey bees there is not a lot of activity of bees coming and going, but a few minutes, or a bit longer waiting, will often show a few native bees using the hive.

Mr Craig advised that if a native hive was found and the tree required removal to contact MRCCC or Valley Bees for advice and assistance.

Those interested are welcome to contact or call at MRCCC offices to have a look at the giant stump.