Clayton Honey Tree

Neil

by Neil Carleton

It was the sound that first attracted Jenny Doyle to a tree near the village of Clayton during a seasonal walk.  Something was certainly abuzz in the quiet woods, and it didn’t take long to locate the source.  Standing at a respectable distance from a mature ash, she discovered it was a honey tree.

Clayton Honey Tree 8 May 30 2013
The bees were busy around a substantial sized hole that was later measured at 10’ 1.5“ (3.09 m) above the ground. The site of a broken limb, that didn’t heal over in the tree’s earlier days, was a possible cause of the cavity.

The large inner hollow of a bee tree often has an upper and a lower entrance. Perhaps there was another portal farther down somewhere.
Low to the ground on the other side of the trunk was an even larger hole that invited careful investigation. Low to the ground on the other side of the trunk was an even larger hole that invited careful investigation.
Although watching close by confirmed that this wasn’t an active entrance or exit for any busy bees, maybe a look inside would reveal some honey comb.  All was quiet when I slowly reached inside for a blind photo because, it turned out, the large cavity didn’t extend up to the bee colony.
Although watching close by confirmed that this wasn’t an active entrance or exit for any busy bees, maybe a look inside would reveal some honey comb. All was quiet when I slowly reached inside for a blind photo because, it turned out, the large cavity didn’t extend up to the bee colony.

The long, straight trunk was 6’ 7” in circumference (2.01 m) at chest height.  It had thick, dark gray bark that included intersecting ridges with diamond-shaped furrows.  That ’s an ash.  I could see way up above that the leaves were pinnately compound, opposite.  If the leaflets were stalkless it was a black ash.  A binoculars view revealed short stalks or stems on each leaflet.  It was a white ash.  While black ash is commonly found in open, cool, wet sites in lower swampy woodlands, white ash prefers upland sites with rocky to deep and better drained soils.

 Thank you to Jenny Doyle of Clayton for nominating this shady character, guiding me through the forest for photos, and taking the measurements that accompany this article.

 Do you have a notable or favourite tree?  Readers are invited to submit their nominations for an honor roll of trees in our area that could be featured in future articles.  You can contact me at 613-256-2018, <ve3nce@rac.ca>, or Neil Carleton, 3 Argyle Street, P.O. Box 1644, Almonte, Ontario, K0A 1A0.  I look forward to hearing from you.

My volunteer columns started in March 2010, as print features, to support the tree planting and tree awareness initiatives of the Mississippi Mills Beautification Committee.  The contact for the Tree Working Group is Ron Ayling, 613-256-4617.  In Carleton Place, the contact for the Urban Forest / River Corridor Advisory Committee is Jim McCready, 613-257-5853.

Until the next column, you’ll find me looking for and hanging out with shady characters.