Many people assume that bees, at least most of them, reside within hives. Most people use the word “beehive” to refer to the nesting structures that are built by bees themselves. However, technically speaking, beehives are distinct from the nests that bees build. Beehives are manmade structures that are meant for housing bee colonies. Beehives are placed within forested areas or on apiaries in order to attract honey bees for economic purposes. For example, beekeepers store live bee colonies within hives in order to gather the honey that they produce. Beehives are not just used for extracting honey, as beehives are also useful for attracting bee populations to crops that require pollination. Increasing the amount of beehives in the natural environment also helps to mitigate the effects of colony collapse disorder. While beehives work well to promote bee abundance and diversity, these hives sometimes come under attack from destructive termite species. In fact, this problem is particularly pronounced in Africa, and experts consider termites to be pests to bees due to their destruction of beehives.
Since most beehives are constructed from wood, most professional beekeeping organizations list termites as one of the many insects that are pests to bees. Of course, termites are not considered predators to bees, and they are only after the wood used to construct hives, and not the honey produced by bees. However, termites can cause serious damage to beehives, occasionally making them completely ineffective. Termite-induced beehive destruction is particularly problematic in Nigeria, where economic losses have resulted from this type of beehive damage.
One researcher conducted an experiment on the relationship between termite feeding habits and beehive abundance in Nigeria. The researcher found that nearly half of all experimental hives in the study had been destroyed by native termite colonies. Researchers learned that termite destruction to beehives becomes particularly common during the region’s rainy season. In termite-rich regions of the world, rainfall seems to increase the already problematic trend of termite-induced beehive destruction. This has led experts to recommend that beehives should be temporarily removed from the environment during rainy seasons. Beyond this tactic, there does not yet exist a clear solution to the problem of termite-driven beehive destruction.
Wouldn’t beehives be spared from termite attacks if they were just made from non-timber materials?