Patterns of species diversity provide fundamental insights into the underlying mechanisms and processes that regulate biodiversity. The species–time relationship (STR) has the potential to be one such pattern; in a comparable manner to its more extensively studied spatial analogue, the species–area relationship (SAR), which has been pivotal in the development of ecological models and theories. We sought to determine the mechanisms and processes that underpin STR patterns of temporal turnover by sampling bacterial communities within ten water-filled tree-holes on the same European beech tree through the course of a year. We took this natural model system to represent an archipelago of islands of varying sizes and with shared common immigration sources. We observed an inverse relationship between STR-derived turnover rates and island size. Further, turnover was related to island size and not island isolation within the study system as indicated by a low frequency of dispersal limitation and high homogenizing dispersal. Compared to SARs, STRs are understudied, as such, the findings from the current study should provide a renewed interest in STR-based patterns and processes.