The hawthorn (May) bush on my allotment is in bud but not yet in flower, but I have seen others elsewhere that are bursting into bloom: and so they should, for today is Mayday, or would have been when the bush and the month both erupted together.They don’t nowadays. I blame the Government; not the present Government but the one that in 1752  robbed our calendar of 11 days and moved the start of the year from Lady Day (25th March) to 1st January.  That’s why the tax year begins on 6th April rather than Lady Day as it did; that May is late; that Michaelmas daisies aren’t on time and why my Grandfather used to be allowed to put his cattle on Lenthay Common on 11th May.

The rhyme about  swarm in May is older than the calendar change: in the 1400s the May swarm was worth a cow and a botel of hay, a botel being Norman French for a bundle.  From this it follows that, nowadays, a swarm in July is still worth a silver spoon until the 11th of that month.


About chrissladesbeeblog

I have been keeping bees since 1978 and currently have about a dozen hives. I am a member of the BBKA where for many years I represented Dorset at the Annual Delegates' Meeting. I am the co-author (with Dave MacFawn of of S. Carolina) of "Getting the Best from Your Bees" and am working on a book of my own poems : "Bee People".
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4 Responses to MAYDAY

  1. Margaret Johnson says:

    Your blog is always imteresting chris. I had no idea that you are an historian as well as a beekeeper and interested in all things natural. I have atheory that the srasons are gradually becoming out of cinque with the calendar due toour calendar not beimg quite accurate with the movement of the earth and other moving heavenly bodies.

    • Margaret: You are correct but ‘precession’ as it is known proceeds very slowly. If you google Milankovitch Cycles you’ll see that the present concerns about climate change are trivial compared to what’s going to affect us for astronomical reasons.

  2. ANN waldock says:

    Don’t you mean ”A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon, A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly.

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