Dreaming of 2020

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Mike Palmer moving a barrel of honey
Mike Palmer moving a barrel of honey

I often like to have some theme for my blog posts, but today I’m just writing whatever pops into my head. There are lots of things to say about bees, but after a while, it can get a bit stale. Bees are fascinating insects, and most beekeepers tend to be obsessed with them, but to the rest of the world, they are not particularly high on the list of things to discuss.

Oxalic Acid

Right now, many beekeepers are deciding whether or not to treat their hives with oxalic acid, which kills varroa mites. I say, “do it!” because there is a good chance that the parasites won’t have many bee pupae to hide them. When there are a lot of baby bees being made, they hide under capped brood, and oxalic acid won’t be so effective. Theoretically, the amount of brood should be low or at zero around about now. The only way to be sure is to open up the hives and rip out frames to inspect them, but I can’t believe that the bees would appreciate that in the wintertime.

Echo Chambers

Just think how much I’d have to write about if my blog was on politics or economics? In these days of social media and rapid news dissemination, anything “new” is pounced on instantly and retweeted or reported in a frenzy of activity. Such is the demand for any news at all that we can quickly lose perspective, and assign importance to things that are quite trivial, simply because they are repeated so often in the echo chambers of our information sources. It’s easy to see trouble wherever you look, which is why beekeeping is so therapeutic for me. I don’t think about climate change, trade wars, real wars, wealth gaps or anything else when I’m with my bees.

Winter Work

I have gone on a bit of a spending spree on bee equipment recently. It’s all part of getting ready for next season. I used to think “season” applied to football, but now it’s bees. I’m an Arsenal fan so watching football has become painfull over the last few years. I’ve made up a load of cedar hives, which look and smell lovely, as part of the expansion of my beekeeping operation. It’s an “operation” now; it used to be a hobby!

New Kit waiting for Spring
New Kit waiting for Spring

I have also made up some polystyrene mini-plus nucs which will be used as mating hives for queens, and for taking queens through next winter. Having seen them in action at Richard Noel’s place, I’m sure that these are the right type of mating hive for me. I had a useful email exchange with Steve Browning of Arden Forest Honey in Warwickshire which further convinced me of this. Those tiny mating nucs are really hard to manage, for a fumble flippered walrus anyway.

Formal Instructions

Mrs Walrus has given up dropping hints and has now issued formal instructions that particular walls need painting before Christmas. These are the walls in my house, not bee houses. That’s what I’ll be doing this week. It will be a very rare foray into the delights of Do-It-Yourself. I made the mistake of speaking to my brother on speaker-phone when Mrs W was in earshot. He is one of those people who is always doing handy things, and I am not. I am good at focusing on one thing and ignoring the rest of the world. Anyway, after hearing of all the jobs that my brother got done in a day (more than I do in a year), I was politely asked to get my paintbrush out. That’s not as rude as it sounds…

Interviews With Beekeepers

My youngest daughter, Squg, is an artist. She has now completed the cover for my forthcoming book, Interviews with Beekeepers. I’m sure that by now you will have realised that this book of mine is, in fact, a myth. It has been “coming soon” for so long that it reminds me of government tech projects…they never actually materialise. The actual release date, the final definite time, is 2nd April 2020. You just have to have faith. Like religion. Anyway, the book cover looks fantastic. The contents are incredibly readable, too if you like bees and beekeepers’ stories.

Roll on 2020

Niagra Falls
Niagra Falls

Apart from plotting my bee-related activities for next season, I have had some time to think about what’s coming in 2020. It should be an epic year. The eldest child gets married off in July, which means that I have to prepare a hilarious yet touchingly sensitive speech and lose a few pounds so that I’m not embarrassed when buying a suit. After that Mrs W and I will be spending some time with Mike & Lesley Palmer in Vermont USA, which will be amazing. They are a fun couple, and Mike is rumoured to know a thing or two about keeping bees. We’ll then take a road trip across to Niagra Falls and later on to Toronto, Canada to catch up with some relatives. Hopefully, earlier in the year we’ll also get our usual week in Tighnabruaich, which is our special relaxing place.

So, all in all, a lot to be excited about in 2020. I can’t wait for these short, cold, wet days to pass and for the new growth of spring to arrive.

What do you think?

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