During January I have been ploughing my way through Mr Woodley’s articles in the British Bee Journal from 1889 – 1897. Last night I came across an important clue to the identity of Mr Woodley’s watcher.
As a bit of a recap from earlier blogs, Mr Woodley had two apiaries in the Parish of Beedon. Mr Woodley had one apiary at his home at Worlds End and an out-apiary at Stanmore. Mr Woodley employed a man to watch his bees at Stanmore. This is what the watcher had to do:
“All he has to do is to watch for swarms, hive them into straw skeps, mark the hive the swarm issued from, and carry the bees to the home apiary — about two miles — after swarming is over for the day. For this service I pay 10s. or 12s. per week for the job, wet or fine. If weather is dull and cool, the “watcher” does a little gardening or any other job required to fill up his time.”
The teen years of the twentieth-century were tough on Mr Woodley as they were on Beekeeping in general. Mr Woodley’s stance on foul brood legislation made him an easy target for critics when Isle of Wight Disease (believed at the time to be caused by the acarine mite) devastated bee colonies throughout Britain. Mr Woodley lost respect among the beekeeping profession and entries of his column ‘Notes By The Way’ began to peter out by 1913. This is his last entry in the British Bee Journal:
I, as a scourged member of the craft, am not chastened by being wiped out, or nearly so, twice. “When perseverance fails the swan sinks”, I set about repairing the damage at the outset with some success; in fact, by using formalin and Lysol in equal proportions spread on strips of thin board and pushed in at the entrances twice weekly of many of my hives, the first spring of the outbreak of “Isle of Wight” disease I preserved every stock so treated, and I quite thought I had got a remedy, and had a good take of honey from these hives, but the following winter and spring I lost most of them. Then I bought new swarms, both English and Dutch. Both strains were hived in disinfected hives, boiled frames, new foundations. Again using most of the advertised remedies, I had a fair take of honey. The winter of 1915-16 reduced me to a few stocks, and as the spring advanced these developed symptoms of “Isle of Wight” disease.