Bees in a Tree Trunk

No, not snakes on a plane, but bees in a tree trunk. Yes, it happens and yes, they can ruin and kill the tree. They can also make the tree very unstable and susceptible to uprooting or toppling with the slightest storm.

Bees in a Tree Trunk So, how do you know if you have bees in your tree? You probably already know if you’re researching this topic. But a humming sound coming from the tree without any indication of a hive outside of the tree is the best indicator. Bees, especially hornets and wasps can really smell. So if a tree has an unusual odor and sounds like it’s alive, you probably have bees.

An established a beehive in a tree trunk can consist of up to 20,000 bees.Is upset these bees, especially if they are not the gentle, honeybees that are quietly minding their own business. Black hornets, yellow jackets, honey bees, and wasps can all make tree hives and slowly kill the tree from the inside out.

So, what can you do?

First, you have to figure out if this is really damaging to the tree. Bees need about 8 quarts of space to build a hive. If the tree is already hollowed out, that could leave a good space for supporting a hive. But cavities and internal decay do not necessarily mean the tree is about to collapse. There are very tall and massive trees in the world that are hollow and still very sturdy. But the location of the cavity and the high is what’s important. If there are cavities in places where there’s a lot of bending or twisting and hives start to develop in massive horizontal limbs, this could be a danger if it falls and breaks. If you want to remove the bees safely, maybe because they are honeybees or bumblebees and don’t pose a threat, it’s important to get a beekeeper out to your home to assess the situation before dealing with the tree itself.

Type of Bees

Bees on Tree Trunk

Swarm of Bees

If it’s a hornet’s nest, even though hornets can be an effective method for organic gardening and good for the environment, they can have a nasty sting and they can sting repeatedly without losing their stinger. Hornets will usually only sting when provoked or protecting their nest, so it’s important to get a beekeeper out to your home to assess this type of situation.

If you plan on removing the bees safely, make sure you don’t just start cutting the tree down by yourself. Agitating bees in trees can cause greater harm than good. Determine if you have a swarm or a beehive. Swarms are how bees reproduce and they can often land on a tree branch temporarily while the search for a permanent home like a diseased tree. Swarms can be harmless and believe in a few days. If you have a hive that’s been there for several weeks, it’s important to talk to an arborist, tree care specialist, and a beekeeper on the best way to alleviate the issue.

If you are concerned that a tree you’d like to save has bees living inside, give us a call. We can help assess the situation and determine the best way to get rid of the tree or save the tree.

Images by By Bilby (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Photographs by JarrahTree… [CC BY 2.5 au (], via Wikimedia Commons