“A “feral” colony in a tree will not survive for more than two or three years.”
I hear this alot when discussing bees in trees. First off, I’m just one person in Pennsylvania, and I monitor several tree colonies that have existed longer than that. But for the sake of argument, let’s play my favorite debating game. I call it “Let’s Assume You’re Right!” So, I stumbled upon a tree colony, usually because a swarm is hanging next to it in April. Because of this, I know it overwintered at least once. I return two or three more times to collect swarms from the same colony. Did I get every swarm issued from this tree? Probably not. Next year, same exact situation. They overwintered, and now are spitting swarms out again. Some find homes in other trees, some get collected by beekeepers. But now, the third year comes along and Let’s Assume You’re Right! No activity. No swarms. Is it a sad day? No. They could have had a queen failure. They could have absconded because of old, black comb. Mice could have gotten in and peed all over everything. Many things could have happened, including mites or beetles. So, wax moths move in and absolutely clean the cavity out. Next thing you know, bees are in there again to start the whole thing over. So, back to the assertion. Did the colony survive more than 2 or 3 years? I would say that the cavity may have only inhabited bees for two or three years, but the colony itself reproduced a minimum of six times, and those colonies are out there (or in my yard) getting their chance to do the same.