I’ve been busy the last few days, delivering Yellow Pages and running a Polling Station. It all helps to boost the pension! I have completed two areas with Yellow Pages (for non UK readers, they are commercial telephone directories) and have a third to go. It doesn’t pay a lot, about half a crown a copy delivered, but gets me fitter (last year I lost a pound a day in weight) and gets me into all sorts of places I would otherwise never go. One farm track was a mile long to deliver a single copy!
I drove down a shorter farm track, only half a mile, and met the (organic) farmer and was able to hand him his copy from the seat beside me.We chatted. I used to keep a couple of hives on his farm but his badgers are too ferocious to make it practicable. He asked whether I had fed my bees for the winter and I told him that I had not and the reason why: Darwinism – you get what you select for. If you feed your bees, you will end up with bees that need feeding. “That’s exactly like farming!”, he exclaimed.
A little later at another organic farm in the same parish, Toller Porcorum, after delivering the directories, I ambled up to a fenced off corner of a paddock used variously for chickens, geese or sheep, to see my two hives there. They also had been badgered last year but I have managed (I hope!) now to make their corner badger-proof. There is a sett down which you could lose half a class of school kids only 50 yards away. I had a swarm hive itself in my garden and took it there only to find another swarm already in occupation, so then there were two. Both were flying strongly and bringing in lots of pollen when I looked. I made a mental note that one of them needs an entrance block and/or mouseguard.
On election day for the new Crime Commissioners (don’t we have enough crime already without comissioning more?) I was Presiding Officer running the Polling Station in a nearby village. It was a looong day. I set the alarm for 5.15, but woke up 4 minutes earlier, the brain working the way it does, and was at the Polling Station before the village hall caretaker arrived at 6.30, setting all up and, at 7am on the dot, bellowing across the Square “Oyez, oyez, oyez! The Poll is now open!” Nevertheless, it was almost 9 o’clock that the first voters appeared.
Mr X appeared (I shall get my bottom smacked by the Returning Officer if I identify voters) and I asked him how his bees were doing. They had dwindled and died a couple of years ago but he still had all his kit and was open minded as to whether to re-stock. I assured him that nobody gives up beekeeping.
Mr Y appeared, who lives not far from X. He had just been feeding fondant to his bees.
Mrs Z appeared and we nattered. I told her that my poem about her and her (again organic) farm would appear in my book of poems that will be published when I can get around to creating the illustrations. She wants a copy.
I had a 21% turnout of electors but a 66% turnout of the local beekeepers that I know of. Is this significant?
Next day I was back to deliveries, this time on another route, new to me, a couple of valleys away so I don’t know it well. Once more walking down a farm track, directory under my arm, I found an apiary next to the track. Nosily I had a wander round it. The beekeeper favours deep brood boxes, 14, x 12. The day wasn’t warm, but neither was it all that cold yet no bees were flying and the only sign of occupancy was, outside one of the hives, chewed wax indicating mouse damaged comb being tossed out by the bees inside.