Wednesday 30 October 2013

Clearing up storm damage while avoiding a hornets' nest!

Meet the European Hornet...

IMG_4473 European Hornet

IMG_4472 European Hornet

We had to work around a nest of them today, as they were in the storm-damaged oak tree I mentioned in yesterday's blog post. You can just see a couple of them going into the crack in the tree that was probably what weakened it and resulted in the storm damage.
IMG_4479 European Hornet
Fortunately they look much more scary (being an inch long and noisy!) then they are, and are actually quite timid and if they do sting it's no worse than a normal wasp sting (see Wikipedia).

Here's how the oak tree looked after the storm:
IMG_4463 St Jude storm damage 2013

It took us a while, but after some chainsawing and winch work, we got the broken section down on the ground:
IMG_4474 Tree damaged in Oct 2013 UK storm

IMG_4477 Tree damaged in Oct 2013 UK storm

To get it down we looped a 4-tonne sling round the branch near where it attached to the tree - this effectively doubles its strength to 8 tonnes, see the table on this page. We attached a 10-tonne pulley to the sling using an 8-tonne bow shackle - using a pulley doubles the power of the winch:
IMG_4478 winch pulley attached to tree

Through the pulley was a 20 metre 15-tonne steel rope, with one end anchored to a tree with another sling and bow shackle:
IMG_4480 winch line anchored at tree

The other end was attached to the steel rope that went through our Tirfor T516 winch - this can pull 1.6 tonnes, so all the other components in use are stronger, eliminating the chance of unexpected failures.
IMG_4481 Tirfor T516 winch

That's an awful lot of gear to push through the woods on a wheelbarrow, but it got the job done with us stood at a safe distance from the tree! We even managed to avoid damaging the hornets' nest, so they can carry on living in the trunk of the tree and the cracked bit of the branch which is now on the ground.

We cleared up some coppice stools that had been blown over too, and there are still a few more of these to do before we've finished clearing up from the St Jude's Day storm which hit the UK on 28 Oct 2013.



ChrisJS said...

Hi Mike,
Do you recon you could tell it from a Japanese hornet?

Mike Pepler said...

Never seen a Japanese one, so not sure, but from what I can tell the Jap ones are 50% bigger. I'll make amental note of that in case I find another nest somewhere else!

This lot were remarkable docile, especially considering what we were doing to the tree they lived in! I even stood by the nest afterwards to get some photos - not sure I'd try that with normal wasps...