William Woodley: Early Years At Stanmore (beekeeping documentary)

This video is about the early life of William Woodley.  William’s mother died when he was a child and he was looked after by an elderly aunt who lived at Stanmore.  Stanmore is a hamlet in the parish of Beedon, Berkshire, England.

During the swarming season William (aged seven) would mind his aunt’s bees, which in those days would be kept in straw skeps covered with hackles.  Should one of the hives swarm he would bring notice to the neighbours by tanging pots and pans.  He would help retrieve the swarm.  

As the young William grew up, he was apprenticed to a firm of grocers at Chieveley.  He later took an interest in the clock and watch trade and returned to Beedon.  

This video touches on the folklore surrounding the Stanmore tumulus (barrow): fairies, thunder and ploughs.  I also look at the Enclosure of Stanmore.


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William Woodley – An Introduction


After several years of doing research on William Woodley and trying various mediums to tell his story, I feel video is the best.

I have made an introductory video on Mr Woodley, and hopefully it justifies to the watcher, why telling Mr Woodley’s story is warranted.   So without further ado, please enjoy my video on WW.

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Did Victorian Pesticides Kill Bees?

Mr Woodley poses the question as to whether ‘spraying fruit-trees is prejudicial to beeculture?’ in other words does spraying fruit-trees kill bees?

Victorians used arsenic based pesticides, some with exotic names such as ‘Paris Green’ and ‘London Purple’. The answer to Mr Woodley’s question is not as straight forward as it would first appear.  A tragic turn of events in 1925 reveals the real nature of pesticide spraying.  I explain all in my latest video.

 

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Restocking Honeybees

In this blog I examine the influences upon beekeepers to restock their apiaries honeybees at the time of the Isle of Wight disease.

Mr Woodley and Restocking

Let’s first look at Mr Woodley’s experiences, he writes in 1917:-

“I, as a scourged member of the craft, am not chastened by being wiped out [by the “Isle of Wight” Disease], or nearly so, twice…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.”1

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Pssst, Wanna Buy Some Honey?

The cottager beekeeper of the late nineteenth century was giving-up keeping bees. There were many reasons for this including the fact that making a living as an agricultural labour was becoming a precarious occupation and better prospects lay in the towns and cities working in the factories.

In addition to this, the cottager beekeeper was having difficulties selling their honey.  The Berkshire Beekeepers’ Association was trying to arrest the decline the cottage beekeeper, Mr Woodley describes the situation:-

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Mr Woodley’s Swarm-Watcher

Enoch Brind

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.”

[NBTW 3 December 1908]

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Honeybees Perform A “great robbery to the farmer” Says The Newbury Weekly News

This is a piece I stumbled on in the British Bee Journal.  Mr Woodley responds to a misinformed journalist/correspondent at the Newbury Weekly News.  I would be interested to know from my readership, whether the standard and accuracy of journalism at the Newbury Weekly News has improved since 1890?Read More »