Call it “The Battle Over a Tree Hollow."
Feral bees have occupied—and abandoned—a sycamore tree cavity in a Vacaville neighborhood for at least two decades. They occupy it in the spring, summer and fall, and then the colony either absconds or dies back in the winter.
When this winter proved exceptionally cold and rainy, a clever squirrel moved in.
A place to stay warm. A perfect sleepy hollow.
Then in early April, scout bees from a spring swarm begin circling the tree. Wait! There's an intruder inside.
Squirrel: "Occupied! No vacancy!"
Bees: "Out, it's ours!”
Squirrel: “Finders, keepers! I was here first!”
Bees: “But it's ours! This is our bee tree!”
Cars speed by. Residents trudge by with leashed dogs. Birds chirp. A hound bays uproariously. The sleepy squirrel pokes his head out occasionally as if to ask “What's all the ruckus about? Can't a squirrel get some sleep?”
More bees buzz around his head.
“Occupied!” Mr. Squirrel shouts again. “No vacancy!”
The score: Squirrel: 1. Bees: 0.
Then one mid-April day, the tenant vanishes.
The bees quickly move in. Call it a "hollow victory" for the bees.
The score: Bees: 1. Squirrel, O.
Now a queen bee is busily laying eggs. The workers are performing their age-related duties: nurse maids, nannies, royal attendants, builders, architects, foragers, dancers, honey tenders, pollen packers, propolis or "glue" specialists, air conditioning and heating technicians, undertakers, and guards.
Who was it who said "Everything works if you let it?" The American rock band, Cheap Trick.
Author - Communications specialist
Look closely and you can see a squirrel occupying a small hollow or cavity in a sycamore tree. The cavity has been home to feral bees for at least two decades. (Image taken in Vacaville by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What's all that noise about? Can't a squirrel get some sleep? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The squirrel pokes his head out of his home, his sleepy hollow. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Occupied! No vacancy! The squirrel is aware that bees are circling, trying to move into "his" hollow. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
With the squirrel gone, honey bees quickly move into the hollow. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)