Mae'n bwrw glaw

From Simon's beekeeping blog. Comments are welcome via email.


'You know the forecast is generated through expensive dice?', Dave asked me when we saw the forecast of rain. DarkSky, a forecasting site in which I admit that I have unrealistically blind faith, turned out to be right this time. Well, it said that it would rain, but not that it would be as heavy as it was. Undeterred, we put on our waterproofs and went to put up the fencing. Twenty minutes later, I was looking down at the corner of the field and at how boggy it looked, and regretted not wearing my wellies too. Just after that, my dad — the acting foreman — decided to put an end to all this nonsense and call off the day's work. We'd have to put up the fencing once the rain had gone and the land was drier. Instead, we made a trip to Maw Agri to get the hooks and strapping so we'd be all ready.

The rain continued all weekend, and by Monday the rain had stopped but the land was seriously boggy. The hoofmarks left by the cattle were deep in the mud, were staying around and were filling up with water. If we'd put up the fencing, the posts would have just sunk along with us. We agreed that we'd give the land three days after the last rain and try again. The next day we had a yellow weather warning ('high impact; unlikely') of thunderstorms for the south of England. Today (Thursday) gave me the impression the weather was changing for the better. The swarm season will be over soon, but there's not much that can be done until things dry up.

All this is getting me thinking about damp this winter. It's a huge problem for hives. If the land that these hives are going on is going to be consistently damp, the damp might transfer to the hive. Particularly during winter, this is a big killer of bees. The moisture collects in the cold hive, drips down on them, they get soaked, and you end up with mouldy dead bees. As far as I understand, no treatments will help this situation. I'm tempted to head out to the field tomorrow — in my wellies — to see if there are any less boggy options. I doubt that there are. The Somerset Levels is a low-lying area with a lot of boggy ground but, on the other hand, with a lot of good beekeepers. Local approaches to getting good air drainage and venting hives must exist, so I'll do my best to find out what they are.