Weatherwatch: Paul Brown

Paul Brown: The warm sunshine of last weekend set off the first swarm of the year from a neighbour's chimney

There are shortages of honeybees elsewhere but not in our street. Rows of capped Victorian chimneys with air bricks have provided wonderful hive space.

The warm sunshine of last weekend set off the first swarm of the year from a neighbour's chimney. My wife remembered buying local honey at the farmers' market with a telephone number on the jar, and called the beekeeper. He was delighted to collect the swarm, partly because he had an empty hive, but he also quoted this ancient country saying: "A swarm in May, worth a load of hay,/ A swarm in June, a silver spoon,/ A swarm in July, let them fly".

He reasoned that a load of hay was worth a lot in mediaeval times. A swarm so early in the year would have time to build a valuable supply of honey for harvesting in the autumn, whereas a July swarm would barely be able to store the 30lb or so of honey required to keep the hive going through the winter.

Those still with open fires spent some time that day lighting paper in their grates to warn off scout bees from the swarm from choosing another chimney for a home.

The swarm finally settled in a garden hedge for the night. As dusk fell the beekeeper expertly calmed the bees with smoke before scooping them into a cardboard box. He transported the estimated 20,000 bees huddled round the queen to the prepared hive, promising a jar of honey in the autumn.

Contributor

Paul Brown

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Weatherwatch: 16 February 2009

Paul Brown: Vast numbers of people owned skates in the 19th century because every winter there were opportunities to use them

Paul Brown

16, Feb, 2009 @12:01 AM

Weatherwatch: Kate Ravilious

Kate Ravilious: Weather observations became more sophisticated, Evangelista Torricelli, invented the barometer

Kate Ravilious

28, Apr, 2009 @11:01 PM

Weatherwatch: 23 July 2009
David Hambling: The rapid spread of swine flu has been something of a surprise. Normally influenza is highly seasonal

David Hambling

22, Jul, 2009 @11:05 PM

Weatherwatch: 17 February 2009

Stephen Davenport: Storms in north-west France close airports while Japan skips an entire season

Stephen Davenport, MeteoGroup

17, Feb, 2009 @12:01 AM

Weatherwatch

Jeremy Plester: If a winter holiday in the Canaries is proving too expensive this year head to North Wales coast

Jeremy Plester

05, Feb, 2009 @12:01 AM

Weatherwatch | David Hambling

David Hambling The subvisible cloud is too faint to be seen from the ground, leaving the sky as blue as ever

David Hambling

25, Jun, 2009 @11:01 PM

Weatherwatch

'As I peered through the window for some hope, rain beat violently upon my face'

Tim Radford

01, May, 2009 @11:01 PM

Weatherwatch | Paul Brown

Paul Brown: Climate change sceptics have always seized on the fact that England had vineyards in Roman times

Paul Brown

12, Jul, 2009 @11:01 PM

Weatherwatch

Kate Ravilious: For hay fever sufferers the best breeze comes from the sea

Kate Ravilious

08, Jul, 2009 @11:01 PM

Weatherwatch: Paul Brown

Paul Brown: The benefits of urban trees far outweigh disadvantages, from climate change to flash flooding

Paul Brown

19, Apr, 2009 @11:01 PM