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 »

Merry Christmas Mr Woodley!

Mr Woodley wrote on 24 December 1890 in the British Bee Journal on the subject of Christmas Cards.

“I have seen many times on Christmas cards the old-fashioned straw skep or beehive figuring amongst the illustrations, but never in a single instance the modern frame hive, loaded with snow.  On more than one occasion I have wished for a ‘Kodak’ so that I could snap a view of my apiary when the row of hives have been laden with with snow, and have taken friends to see the unique vision of a snow laden apiary.  I am sure the view would inspire lovers of the beautiful in Nature with enthusiasm if they could share in the view.”

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Mr Woodley: Towards the End

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.

[NBTW 1 February 1917]Read More »