Tree beekeeping


The history of tree beekeeping

©Irmela Schautz, Illustration from the book by Michaela Vieser and Irmela Schautz "From coffee-traders, caterers and whitefish taps - occupations from bygone times"  C. Bertelsmann

During Middle Ages, tree-beekeeping was meant to be the professional collection of honey from wild or half-wild bee colonies, performed by tree-beekeepers. This word comes from the Latin word "excidere" (cut-out/resect) and the ancient German word "Zeideln" (cut honey).


Stone age people - as well as nature people of today - had been collecting honey of wild bees. But they did or do not do this profesionally. The tree-beekeepers, whose profession can be dated back to the Early Age, collected the honey of wild, half-wild or domesticated bees in the forests. They did not keep the bees in timbered bee-hives but in natural nesting sites in trees (artificial caves/hives).


Privileged status of tree-beekeepers

The tree-beekeepers educated guilds with certain legal traditions and carried out their own legal jurisdiction. In 1296, there was proof of an own jurisdiction in Feucht and of an own master of tree-beekeepes. This privileged status was noted by emperor Karl IV in his "Zeidel Freyheit Brief" in 1350. This document enfeoffed the tree-beekeepers with their own jurisdiction. As exterior sign of this privilege, their heads lead a white bar, the tree-beekeepers were allowed to have a weapon (crossbow) and were wearing a specific green costume with the typical long pointed cap (have a look at the tree-beekeeper's emblem at the castle in Feucht and on different Lebkuchen). For this reason, the tree-beekeepers had to lead the emperor safely through the forest of N¸rnberg, to deliver some hundredweights of beeswax to the Stephansdom, Vienna each year and some more other things.


It is interesting that this privilege (right of the tree-beekeepers) has never been cancelled, not even by the reformation of the Weimar Republic. Thus it is still valid today. You can find some jurisdictional traces of this privilege nowadays in Civil Law Code with its paragraphs regarding bees.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported (Abbreviated (en)) article Zeidlerei from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia.In Wikipedia a liste of authors is available.

From left to right: Luciano Bartolomeo, Antonio Gurliaccio and Florian Kuttner

The Comeback

The keeping of forest bees in living trees and hives disappeared nearly completely from Europe at the end of the 19th century. The traditional technique has survived in Shulgan Tash Nature Reserve in southern Ural, Russia. Within the frame of a WWF project, financed by DEZA (Centre for development and cooperation), this technique has been studied and it was determined to bring back the traditional tree-beekeeping to Poland. This has resulted in more than 100 tree-beekeeper caves in living trees and hives, distributed in central Poland. The bee colonies are constantly and successfully taken care of by local beekeepers. In 2014, the "comeback" of this knowledge to Switzerland and Germany was realised with WWF and an initial seminar of the community "Free the bees" (André Wermelinger).


Antonio Gurliaccio, member of BIENENBOTSCHAFT: Education as tree-beekeeper in summer 2015 at a workshop at a centre in Ballenberg, Switzerland. He expanded his professional knowledge in 2016 at a tree-beekeeper competition "Barciowisko", an event of the forestry office Augustow, Poland.

In 2017 he even achieved the first rank with his colleague Florian Kuttner during the International Competition.


PDF – WWF History of tree-beekeeping in Poland

PDF – WWF Return of tree-beekeeping in Poland

From left to right: Martin Götz and Antonio Gurliaccio

Modern tree-beekeeping

“Back to the roots - view of the future” - The rediscovery of the old tree-beekeeper trade and the insights of the latest scientific researches related to the life of the honey bee do confirm our work. This natural fashion of beekeeping does mostly correspond to the chosen conditions of the honey bees in natural hollow trunks.

According to the scientific research work of the well-known honey bee scientist and beekeeper Thomas D. Seeley, these natural homes support swarm intelligence, genetics, natural selection as well as Varroa tolerance for wild living bee populations. We see a big chance in our pioneer work for a healthy and thus flourishing future of our actually threatened honey bee. And if the bee is doing well, the nature and human being is also doing well. We are proud to be a creative power of this path.


Our book recommendations

Bienendemokratie (Honeybee Democracy) by Thomas D. Seeley

“The Most Captivating Science Book of the Year.” – Financial Times


Auf der Spur der wilden Bienen  (Following the wild bees, The craft and science of bee hunting) by Thomas D. Seeley


Die Honigfabrik (The Honey Factory: Inside the Ingenious World of Bees) by Prof. Dr. Jürgen Tautz


Handlungsanleitung für artgerechte Bienenhaltung mit Pseudoskorpionen (Guidance for species-appropriate beekeeping with pseudo-scorpions) by Torben Schiffer

Locations our log hives

Log hives supervised by us

Log hives supervised by local bee keepers

In planning

Log hive workshop 2018

If as a gift or if you want to handle the saw by yourself: in 2018 you will have the opportunity to participate in one of our log-hive workshops at BIENENBOTSCHAFT. We will manufacture together with you log-hives following tree-beekeeper’s fashion and adapted to the latest studies of Torben Schiffer (beenature-project) and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Tautz (Hobos). Of course, you may take your B3 log-hive with you at the end of the workshop. We are happy to welcome you!


Log-hive workshop B3 at BIENENBOTSCHAFT 2018

Workshop Spring I

March, 23rd–25th


Workshop Spring II

May, 25th–27th


Workshop Summer

September, 14th–16th


(each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday)

in Kirchgasse 25 in 61184 Karben


Course instructors and adjutants

Antonio Gurliaccio, Manuel Schüle, Michael Altstätter, Florian Kuttner, Leandro Marasco, Timo Schinz, Martin Götz


Scientific talk with the experts

Biologist Torben Schiffer (beenature-project) on March 23rd, May 25th and September 14th


Urs Heusser (Beekeeping of the dark bee Apis Mellifera, Switzerland) on March 24th


Norbert Dorn (bio-dynamic beekeeping ) on May 26th


Course fee

€ 575

Including hand-made special tree-beekeeper tools/instruments at your disposal

Including a trunk for your own log-hive

Including catering costs (3 x warm bio-lunch, 2 x evening meal, coffee, tea and soft drinks)


Those persons who have a certificate for chainsaw and protective clothes may effect the previous work by themselves. Otherwise, this work will be done by our instructors. You may bring your chainsaw (max. 12cm width and min. 35-40cm length).


Please bring along with you

Protective gloves and protective clothes, according to weather warm and rain-resistant, penknive and axe. Maybe you need a car with a trailer on the last day (for transportation of the log-hive, which may have 180cm length and a diametre of 50cm).


If requested, we can deliver your finished log-hive to your home with our van. Fees are calculated according to the effort incurred.


Workshop timetable



Welcome & Instructions

Presentation: history of tree-beekeeping, log-hive & construction of log-hive



Explanation of the tree-beekeeping tools and production run

Sealing log-hive + metal tape

Choice of the wooden trunk, practical start of log-hive construction



Mutual lunch



Practical work log-hive construction B3



Mutual evening meal



Scientific talk of our cooperation partnership with Beenature-Project with Torben Schiffer and subsequent discussion group




Talk & Instructions



Practical work log-hive construction B3



Mutual lunch



Practical entrance hole and opening for revision

Wooden nail, wooden strips, pillow for cover



Mutual evening meal


19:30 - 21.00

Scientific talk

on March 24th Urs Heusser, Beekeeping of the dark bee Apis Mellifera, Switzerland

on May 26th Norbert Dorn, bio-dynamic beekeeping

on September 15th, guest speaker will be specified




Talk & Instructions



View in the humming log-hive/tree-beekeepers trees at BIENENBOTSCHAFT with tasting of honey



Modern tree-beekeeping mounting of a log-hive with rope technology and practical work with arborist Martin Götz



Mutual lunch



Finishing of the log-hive, transportation & finitum


Overnight accommodation

Holiday room of the city of Stadt Karben

Hotel Stadt Karben

Hotels and guest houses of the city of Bad Vilbel




If you have any further questions or need more information, please contact us by email. Your contact person is Antonio Gurliaccio of BIENENBOTSCHAFT.

Formular wird gesendet...



The registration is binding only after payment receipt of the seminar fee to our account in time. Seminar/course fee: € 575. Please transfer the total amount of € 575 to the following account up to four weeks before the workshop.


Antonio Gurliaccio

Frankfurtet Volksbank

IBAN DE95 501 900 006 001 132 049


© Bienenbotschaft

The history of tree beekeeping

Locations our log hives

Log hive workshop 2018


The history of tree beekeeping

Locations our log hives

Log hive workshops 2018