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(Chlorocardium rodiei) from British Guiana. Both are
extremely hard and strong, so hard that they cannot be
1worked with standard tools . Its extreme durability makes it
favoured for marine conditions. The railway industry uses
2greenheart extensively for track work over steel viaducts .
Trees are unique in that they do not impoverish the soil to
the same extent as other crops. Their leaves fall to the
ground and the nutrients resulting from decomposition are
taken up as plant food in a continuing process. In simplistic
terms, trees live by obtaining water via their root systems
and by taking in carbon dioxide through their leaves and
giving off oxygen in the same way as the lesser plants. They
have an annual period of growth and rest.
Trees are without doubt an important component of the
natural landscape because of their ability to prevent soil
erosion and the provision of a specific weather-sheltered
ecosystem in and under their foliage. Their presence plays a
significant part in formal landscaping and agriculture both
for their aesthetica appeal and their orchard crops.
During the growth period, new wood is formed from the
outside, increasing the tree’s diameter between the old
wood and the inner bark. Successive layers of wood are
laid down without any expansion from within. Growth
depends on the seasons. Where there are clear seasons, a
A mature Scots Pine in a native forest at Mar Lodge, discrete pattern leads to growth rings that can be seen
Deeside, Scotland when a trunk or branch is cut through. If the seasons are
annual, the growth rings are annual rings. Where there are
Later, in the Triassic period, conifers, ginkgos, cycads and no seasonal differences, growth rings may become
other gymnosperms appeared and, subsequently, flowering indistinct or absent.
plants developed in the Cretaceous Period. Most tree
species today are flowering plants (angiosperms) and TREES FOR BEEKEEPERS
conifers. There are some beekeeping trees or, should I say, trees of
TWO GROUPS importance to beekeepers. These are notably lime,sycamore, maple, chestnuts, willow, apple, pear, alder and
Trees are, in essence, divided into two groups: deciduous plum.
or broad-leafed and coniferous or cone-bearing. The former All these trees supply large quantities of pollen, nectar, or
are generally known as hardwoods and the latter as both. Some lesser trees in this respect are hawthorn, hazel,
softwoods. It is well known that softwoods are the trees of mulberry, holly and cherry. The hawthorn produces the
commerce and the hardwoods, while they have many uses, queen of honeys when the temperature and climate suit it.
are used in relatively small volumes compared with the It is said that its nectar is like angels’ visits – few and very
softwood species. rare. All beekeepers should advise and encourage the
The terms ‘hardwood’ and ‘softwood’ are misleading, in as general public on the suitability of trees and shrubs
much as balsa wood is a hardwood and yet it is renowned beneficial to bees.
for its softness and lightweight use, whereas yew is a The chestnuts are handsome trees, particularly the horse
softwood but is one of the hardest of timbers to work. chestnut with its show of pyramid blossoms in the spring
There is a strong relationship between the properties of and, of all the bursting spring buds, the chestnut is the
wood and the properties of a particular tree from which it most startling. Alfred Lord Tennyson says ‘… and leader of
came. The mechanical properties (strength) and density this budding rout, in one swift rush the chestnut’s out’. The
determine its use. pollen is brick red and gathered in quantity. When the
conditions are perfect, nectar is also collected.Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni) is a medium–dense
hardwood whose properties make it suitable for crafting Acer and maple are useful adjuncts too. Their pollen and
fine furniture. Balsa is extremely light, making it ideal for nectar is much sought after and yet in the typically British
model building. The densest woods are black ironwood spring/summer weather, either rain washes out the nectar
(Olea laurifolia), native to Southern Florida, and greenheart or the high winds blow away the pollen.
Bee Craft Digital November 2008 Page 21
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