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Long-term beehive is likely doing just fine

We have been fans of the beehive in an old tree located on the south-facing trail on Roxy Ann. We have noticed it for 10 years. How long has it really been there? Also which type of bee lives in it, and is the hive healthy? With all the publicity about hives dying out, hopefully they will be there a long time.

— Cathy R., Medford,

via email

Bee-havior experts tend to agree that beehive constituencies turn over regularly, with queens lasting between three to five years. While there is no known date of occupation for the hive in question (bees don't have to obtain permits), Medford city arborist Adam Airoldi says it is likely it has been continuously inhabited by successive generations. It's even possible newly developed queens have flown the coop with a swarm of worker bees.

Airoldi consulted with a local beekeeper who visited the hive last year and reported that the bees along the trail are common or western honeybees. There are seven different species of honeybee in the genus Apis, he said. Those in Prescott Park are most likely Apis mellifera.

The fact that the hive continues to thrive year in and year out, may point to its health. Each year brings in a new round of drones, who usually die out before the winter, and of worker bees whose life spans are counted in months.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.