Trees of Latvia: The great oak of Budas

Latvian Radio offers the latest installment in the "Greatest Trees of Latvia" series showcasing trees inside the country. This time we'll be visiting the great oak in Budas in the Dobele region. It's the only known oak in Zemgale that testifies to an ancient beekeeping method.

Latvian Radio visited the tree, accompanied by nature protection expert Vita Caune of the Nature Conservation Agency.

"We can see a sort of a widening in the tree three or four meters up. It came about as the tree healed the bee gum," said Caune. 

The hollows for keeping bees were carved by people pulling themselves up on a plank tied to a rope - a dangerous task by any means.

"It's an interesting question - why the hollow has made it to the present day despite people shifting to beekeeping in artificial hives during the 18th and 19th century," she said.

"According to Guntis Emiņš, trees with bee hollows were made in other parts of Latvia as well in the first and second world war. People turned to the ways of their forefathers to get honey, which they could sell to soldiers and army personnel or exchange for some necessities," she said.

"Possibly such trees were used until collective farming [kolkhozs] appeared, that is, for some time after world war two," said Caune.

Dižkoki (great trees) are Latvia's largest trees, protected by law. Long ago, they were thought to be holy and signal the presence of god.

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