I reclined on an easy chair in my polytunnel this morning, while the rain beat down overhead, with a book of graph paper on my lap and several forms to hand upon which I have been making daily records of what the digital thermometer tells me is the temperature inside and outside of my nearby hive.
I drew the two zig-zag lines showing the temperatures against the vertical axis and the date on the horizontal one. I left a gap for the week that I was on holiday. The lines do zig and zag a lot and I wonder whether this is partly because I am recording in Fahrenheit: there being 1.8 degrees F to a degree C. If I had prepared the chart for degrees C the undulations, although there, would have been far less striking, and this really hadn’t occurred to me when I typed the heading to this post!
The internal temperatures have generally been lower than expected, but, when I opened the hive to give the bees their annual sup of oxalic syrup, I saw the cluster had moved away from the sensor. The external thermometer has always recorded higher temperatures than I would have expected from the way I was feeling at the time. It is placed in a large tin can (home brew) inclined slightly downwards inside a rusty and holey oil drum that has some decaying vegetation beneath it. I am guessing that the anomaly is caused by the lack of wind chill rather than any warmth generated by the compost beneath, but I’m willing to be corrected.
I had a couple of hiccups along the way as, on several days, I had recorded the temperatures twice and so there are a few odd dots scattered about. I chose simply to be-graph the highest temperatures recorded on each day when there was a double entry.
I have been adding a letter P along the bottom line to indicate days when I saw pollen going in. I saw a strange thing today: a couple of bees were on an open sack of commercial compost about 30 yards from the hive, presumably sucking tasty/mineral rich water from the exposed material. They have puddles and splashes available much closer to home.
I know that Sarah, 20 miles west of me, has been doing a daily record, as I have. Dave, 2 miles north has been more intermittent: besides taking a couple of weeks off on a tropical holiday, he says the ground has been too soggy to traipse the 80 yards from his home to the hive. As he lives at SANDhills and is at the top of the hill, I doubt whether it has been as soggy as the allotments where I paddle 35 paces through the spring water flowing across the path to get to mine in the drier top corner adjacent a railway cutting.
Who else has been recording?
The reason for playing with graph paper so soon is because there is a DARG (Devon Apicultural Research Group) meeting towards the end of this month and I’d like to demonstrate the results so far to the members there. Sarah hopes to be there too. I live in Dorset and she in Somerset but DARG isn’t boundary conscious so, if you’re within reasonable driving distance of the Tiverton area, where we normally meet, do come and join us! Uplowman Village Hall at lunchtime (bring your own but beverages provided) on Sunday 26th January.
I think I shall post my rough graph to Sarah so she can add her own figures in a different colour. I’m hoping that she has a child young enough (about 14 is ideal I’m told) to put the graphs onto the computer so I can share them with you.
Just a few of us aren’t enough to produce worthwhile scientific data, but this winter’s exercise might give us some experience and ideas. Why don’t YOU join in now in preparation for next winter?
I’m heading for bed now, several hours earlier than usual as I am ‘Mr Dorset’ tomorrow at the BBKA Annual Delegates’ Meeting near Kenilworth, about 180 miles away. I have set several alarms for 6am! I shall have to leave a gap on the graph, but the BBKA has priority!