At the risk of revealing my grumpy old man tendencies, I shall describe a series of unfortunate events which unfolded earlier today. Perhaps somebody will identify with circumstances like these when multiple small problems cluster together to make a GIANT ***storm!
I had entered a local honey show a while ago and today was the big day. For the first time ever, my honey was going to be judged and compared to others. I knew that taste and aroma would not be a problem. My problem was lids. The honey had to be in 1 lb jars with screw thread lids, and I haven’t used that type for years. Customers seem to prefer smaller prettier jars, which is fine by me. Anyway, this morning I inspected the insides of my chosen lids and found a couple of BLEMISHES. In a panic, I went through my cupboards and stores of old jars to see if I had any pristine tops, but I did not. Oh well, thought I, it’s the taking part that counts. That’s a lie, but at least it’s printable.
Honey No Show
Having ensured that my honey was crystal clear with no bubbles or dust or bee parts in it, I polished up the glass and carefully moved my two pots of amber nectar to the car. Mrs Walrus, who was recently referred to at a country fayre as, “the beekeeper’s wife,” was tagging along to provide support for team W.
Sadly, my otherwise fantastic Land Rover Discovery Sport does not support Apple Carplay, so I used the onboard satellite navigation system. Carplay is incredible and should be available on all cars, but I digress. It transpired that my maps were not entirely up to date (shouldn’t that just happen automatically?!) and I ended up missing a turning and got lost. Time pressure now became a factor; the honey had to be at the show by 13:30, and I only had ten minutes to get there.
A healthy debate with Mrs W ensued. Classic phrases like, “you actually think I’m a moron don’t you?” and “oh really, thanks so much, I never would have figured out that we need to turn around!” were my weapons of choice. I spotted a road sign pointing back home to Manchester, and I decided that enough was enough; this Walrus isn’t showing his honey today. No Siree. “It will be the Stockport branch of the Cheshire Beekeepers Association’s loss, not mine!”
Once we got home, my overwhelming purpose in life became to update the maps in my cars navigation system. If I were bleeding out with ten minutes to live, I still would have prioritised updating the damned thing. I removed the SD card from my car and sat at my iMac. I had to download and install some software for the update to happen. I downloaded. I installed. I double-clicked it. Do you think the program ran? Of course, it didn’t! My computer only runs 64-bit software, and this thing was 32-bit, ergo, no dice.
Then I tried my MacBook Pro laptop, but it doesn’t have an SD card port. Then I tried my wife’s iMac, which has not yet been upgraded to Catalina, and the software ran, but the machine couldn’t identify the SD card. Finally, I dusted off my old Windows laptop, and it worked. I had to pay £97 for an updated map, which seems a bit steep, but by now, I was fully committed. Never again am I going to miss a honey show because my car’s map doesn’t know about the new roads that have been built. I should sue somebody. I wonder if I can sue myself?
Then we walked our dog, and it rained.
Weather Like Mine
In other news, I was recently playing with an excellent weather mapping service called weatherspark. I looked up the weather where I live and then compared it to other places in Europe to see if I could find areas with a similar climate to my own. My neighbourhood has a western maritime environment, but not coastal. The sea is to the west, which is where we get most of our weather. It is quite mild and wet, rarely getting especially warm or cold.
On the map I marked in RED the places with very similar climate and in BLUE those places which were nearby but where the weather is quite different. My area benefits from some shelter from the winds coming off the sea to the west. Glasgow is colder with more rain, as is Belfast, whereas London is warmer and drier. I found a large part of western Europe that was very similar to Manchester stretching from Belgium up to Denmark and Poland. It surprised me that Copenhagen has more similar weather to me than Glasgow or London. If you go too far east into Europe, it becomes different, with colder winters, hotter summers and less rain.
Copenhagen looks nice
I haven’t figured out what to do with my new weather knowledge, but as a beekeeper and a Brit, I am obsessed with such things. I suppose other beekeepers in the highlighted areas will have similar challenges to me, so perhaps I’ll keep my eye on them to see what they are up to. It has certainly made me interested in trying out Copenhagen as a holiday location.
Western Red Cedar
I have been building the brood boxes and supers which I bought from Caddon Hives in Scotland. They are one of the few suppliers of Langstroth hives made of western red cedar, and I got a great deal for ten of them. Most of my existing hives are polystyrene ones by Swienty, but I wanted to give cedar a proper go. My winters are mild and I have never really noticed any difference in the performance of bees between wood and poly, so this will allow me to get a good feel for the two hive types. I will be putting insulation in the roof of the cedar hives because that prevents condensation forming above the bees and raining down on them.
Finally, it looks like my book will not be out until 2020. It takes a long time coordinating with so many busy bee farmers across the world. It’s close. Really really close.