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:-
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.”
[UPDATE JULY 13TH, 2018, I have made a video on how to keep your smoker going which incorporates Mr Woodley’s recipe, please see below]
In 1901 Mr Woodley provided his readership a recipe for a smoker fuel:
Most of us have experienced the failure of our “smoker” to belch forth a volume of smoke when urgently needed, and have endured much pain in consequence. Now if those who suffer in this way will dissolve 1 oz. of saltpetre in 1 quart of water and immerse the smoker-fuel in this solution, then ring same out and dry the rag, brown paper, or whatever material is used, it will burn continuously until consumed. [NBTW 20 June 1901]
So, this is how I recreated the smoker fuel recipe…
This blog follows-on from my earlier one about Raised Bed Construction. I show the reader how I constructed a hoop-tunnel for the raised beds. It is my intention to plant winter vegetables in these beds. I shall cover the hoops with a horticultural fleece when the weather becomes colder, hopefully this will promote plant growth over the winter.