Green Woodpecker

Picus viridis

Pest: Winter pest of the honeybee

 

The Green Woodpecker can sometimes attack beehives to eat the bees and honeycomb.  They somehow find the thinnest part of the hive to go for and break through either a wooden or polystyrene hive in seconds to eat the bees and honeycomb.  This usually leaves a big hole in the side of the hive that  leads to the death of the colony either directly by the woodpecker eating large number of  bees or indirectly through cold as the hole left behind is simply too big for the bees to block up.

It seems that this is a trait learnt and passed on to members within a family as not all Green Woodpeckers attack hives to enjoy a free nutritious feast.  These attacks usually come in late winter when food is in short supply but in a more severe winter, can happen much earlier in the season.

Overall, woodpeckers are arboreal birds of wooded habitats although some species are adapted to spending a portion of their time feeding on the ground.  So hives in urban environments are probably less likely to attack.  Not so though for hives in a more rural environment and they should be protected from attacks over winter.

Hive Protection

This beekeeper has the right idea and is using readily available chicken wire to protect the hive from woodpecker damage.

The chicken wire around this hive is too close to the ground and can provide mice and other small rodents with an easy climbing frame into the hive.

Method

Wrap chicken wire or plastic garden mesh around the hive keeping sufficient space inbetween the mesh and the sides of the hive to prevent a woodpecker from be able to attack the hive - the bigger the space the better and for a typical National hive, the length of wire required is around 66".  The size of the mesh should be around 13mm to deter the bird.

After wrapping the wire around the hive, connect the sides together by twisting strips of wire around the two edges.  Then use a couple of bamboo canes threaded through the cage and across the roof to support the cage.  Adjust the position of the bamboo canes to keep the cage well clear of the ground.

For a nation with a metal roof, nothing further is required.  For a polyhive, some additional protection is required to prevent a woodpecker from drilling throught the top of the roof.  By adjusting the bamboo canes to raise the cage, cut an addition piece of wire approx 22" x 22" and fold edges down to form a makeshift roof to place over the chicken wire cage.  With a couple of inches of headspace between the top of the polyhive roof and the wire roof, woodpeckers will not be able to cause damage.

For a more professional finish, you may want to consider attaching chicken wire to wooden frames.  Five such frames when connected together can protect all 4 sides and the roof from attack.  Wooden frames can be assembled to protect a single hive or multiple hives.