Part of my year long to do list was to remove the entire population of invasive Ailanthus (tree of heaven) that have creeped into the pasture. Tree of heaven is incredibly hard to get rid of once the roots are established as they will continuously send up new stems.
Three of these specimens are right up against a power line so I called an ISA certified arborist to come give me an estimate on their removal. Unsurprisingly when two tree lovers meet for the first time…well we spent about 3 hours chatting about trees, sharing news, discussing my master tree planting plan and about 10 minutes actually discussing the project that brought him to the farm. In the end, he added me to their list of free mulch dumping sites, a stern warning that there is little chance my sourwood plans will work in the alkaline soil of the Shenandoah Valley, news that Emerald Ash Borer has been confirmed in nearby Harrisonburg and taught me a new tree I had been mis-identifying for years.
There is a large oak species that makes up much of the older forest on the property that looks like a chestnut oak, but with white oak bark. I was content in thinking it was a chestnut oak but the arborist informed me it was a chinquapin oak. Even better, as we approached one so he could teach me the identifiable characteristics, we noticed bees flying in and out of a hole about 25 feet up the trunk. Feral Honeybees!
So next spring, I am going to set up a swarm trap in case that feral colony splits as honeybees typically do each spring. A swarm trap is basically just a box coated with scents that lure the bees scouting for a new hive location. Once the swarm arrives, the bees can be transferred to a new hive.
Back to the subject at hand: the arborist recommended I paint the exposed vascular tissue of the freshly cut Ailanthus stump with roundup to kill the entire root system. While I typically avoid –icides, that sounds like an acceptable use of synthetic chemicals as I apply it directly to the target plant, have no chance of overspray, won’t contaminate any animal/pollinator food supplies and will prevent these badly invasive species from seeding or cloning thousands of new trees.