Worcestershire Record No. 4 May 1998 p. 15


By Shaun Micklewright

On several occasions last winter I observed Green Woodpeckers Picus viridis attacking bee hives at Wilden Marsh near Kidderminster.I have never observed this type of behaviour by Green Woodpeckers before, although both Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major and Nuthatch Sitta europea have been observed pecking bee hives. All six hives at Wilden show evidence of damage, some quite extensive.

On one occasion up to three birds were noted on one hive, where they had managed to drill through the outer wood of the hive and through the inner frame and appeared to be feeding on the honeycomb. According to Birds of the Western Palaearctic volume 4 this type of behaviour is quite rare having been recorded once during a hard winter in England where numerous attacks were made on hives: the birds drilled large holes but apparently no bees were eaten. The birds were apparently attracted by the humming noise of the bees. My own theory is that this type of behaviour is probably not so uncommon and where the opportunity arises for birds to prey on hives they quickly exploit this food source. I would be most interested to hear if any other recorders have come across this type of behaviour or if they know of any hives that have been damaged by Green Wooodpeckers.


Cramp S (ed) (1977-93) Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: the Birds of the Western Palaearctic. OUP

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