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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Mr Woodley Book: My Introduction

I thought I would post my first draft of the Introduction to the Mr Woodley book I am writing.  I hope this will provide a better appreciation about my motives for my research and for writing a book on William Woodley.Read More »

Mr Woodley on Buzzi-ness: “Don’t put all your eggs into a bee-hive”


This the copy of this found I have found to day (British Bee-keepers Journal Jan 1897).
Mr and Mrs Woodley at their home-apiary at Worlds End, Beedon

The 1896 photograph of Mr and Mrs Woodley in their home-apiary shows about 100 hives in a relatively confined space by today’s standards. Mr Woodley made his living by what he describes as a ‘bee-farmer’. A ‘bee-farmer’ in today’s sense would be a commercial beekeeper that is a beekeeper who makes a living through bee-produce and bee livestock, such as Queen-rearing. But in the 19 century, I believe there was also a subtly nuance between a beekeeper and bee-farmer; a bee-keeper would primarily use movable box hives and more often than not had a respectable status. Conversely, a beekeeper could be synonymous with a lowly farm labourer who kept bees in skeps. I will now let Mr Woodley explain how he made his living as a bee-farmer aka beekeeper.Read More »

There’s A Bole In The Wall

to prop a leaning wall

I am currently holidaying in Scotland.  For several weeks I have been on the look-out for beeboles.  A beebole is an alcove or hole in a wall, where a skep or skeps could be placed; they were used to protect the skep and its bee inhabitants from the wind and rain.

Mr Woodley described Beedon (England) as having skeps within hackles as described in my previous blog.  My research in Beedon has, alas, found no beeboles.  Yesterday, I went to Dunfermline and visited the Abbots House and guess what, I found a beebole with skep! I must add that there were no bees in skep.Read More »

On The Trail of Mr Woodley: Skeps and Skeppists

I have handled bees nearly all my life, I hived my first swarm in June, 1856, and kept bees in straw skeps till some twenty-seven years ago, and till then did not know foul brood even by name.  I must say that had I kept bees in frame-hires instead of skeps, I should have increased my income from, the pursuit at least tenfold.

[William Woodley, Notes By The Way’, BBJ 1905]


Beekeeping in Beedon during the Mid-Nineteenth Century

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