I spent part of the weekend at the Spring Convention at its new location: Harper Adams University College in Shropshire. The BBKA decided to move there from Stoneleigh because they think they’ve outgrown their home site as not all the commercial stands would fit in one hall and some of the lecture rooms were too small and too scattered, meaning that people had to dash from one to another. The price had gone up too.
Normally the journey takes me about three and a half hours including breaks. This time it took over five hours including a tedious time sat in a traffic jam on the motorway through Birmingham, so I missed at least one lecture. I could see at a glance that there were lots of new beekeepers in attendance: there were lots of saloon cars rather than hatchbacks or estates in the car park!
I had been allocated a room in ‘Harris’ Hall of residence. I imagine prison cells may be like these rooms: small, basic and functional. It did have a shower and toilet, which the usual accommodation at Stoneleigh doesn’t. The biggest problem was the heat. They had the radiators on! In April! After some fiddling I was able to turn the radiator off, but the hot pipes running through the room meant that it was still oppressively hot so I had to leave the windows wide open for the duration of my stay. From various pieces of propaganda around the place it seems that they are in favour of being environmentally friendly. It’s a pity that they don’t practice what they preach!
I did manage to squeeze in one lecture on the Friday evening: Dr Stuart Roberts of Reading University on Solitary Bees. It was an excellent talk and the hall was nearly full.
You’d think that, at a jumped up agricultural college, where they presumably teach the inmates how to grow barley and hops, they’d have a decent beer in the bar, maybe even brewed on the premises, but they didn’t. So I went half a mile down the road to The Lamb where I was served a reasonable pint of Directors and soon was joined by Dr Roberts. We had a pleasant chat as he used to teach for many years in Dorset and is familiar with my part of it, especially the small churches.
Next day I found that they had, in fact, managed to fit all the commercial stands into one room: a big shed! There’s an even bigger shed at Stoneleigh they could have used had they thought of it (although I’m not sure that it has electricity). I wasn’t able to get into the second lecture I had selected for Saturday ( Celia Davis on ‘Keeping them healthy’.) as the hall was full, being too small, so that’s a problem shared with Stoneleigh.
I spent more time, instead, in the big shed talking to stall holders and acquaintances. When the time came for the next talk on my list, it was chucking down with rain and it was too far sensibly to go to where that lecture was staged (no better than Stoneleigh!) so I spent yet more time with the traders. There was much more elbow room than usual and I had the impression that numbers were down, but Jane Moseley, who is the BBKA’s General Secretary, told me that numbers were actually a little greater than before but the big shed allowed for wider corridors. Jane told me she is about half way through her copy of ‘Getting the Best from Your Bees’ and was finding it to be clear and easy to read.
I was able to get into the last lecture on my list, by Professor Robert Pickard, on the evolution of the honeybee and started the long drive home at 5.30, getting there a mere 4 hours later. The reason for the speedier journey home is obvious if you look at the map: it’s all downhill!