Despite alcohol and tiredness, I slept badly, suffering from ‘strange bed syndrome’ and, although wearing eye mask and ear plugs, I managed only about 3 hours out of 8 asleep. Although we were told that this was their busiest year, the dormitory seemed under-occupied and I heard only one other snorer, very briefly.
Up at 7am, I headed for the facilities which were in three separate rooms. The shower gave squirts of only about 10 seconds at a time until I learned to keep leaning on the button. I heard afterwards that there had been a pump failure at 6am and a plumber had been called in to sort it out. During the week I heard several people in single rooms complaining that they had no hot water, so we hoi polloi in the dorms did better!
At 10 to 8 I joined the queue for breakfast between David Packham and a lady called Grainne, whom I had met the previous evening. I complained of ‘strange bed syndrome’ and she suggested I sleep in a strange bed more often. “Is that an invitation?” “Maybe.” she replied. David then explained that: if a lady says “No” she means “Maybe”; if she says “Maybe” she means “Yes” and if she says “Yes”, she’s no lady!
Instead of the ‘full Irish breakfast’ that we used to get under the old management regime, there was a, probably healthier, meal of porage topped with yoghourt followed by soda bread topped with Ben Harden’s honey. Several people had brought along some of their own honey to consume and to share.
After breakfast there was a short break enabling me to write up these notes before heading for the assembly room for the first lecture: Noel Power on “Using the swarm impulse to your advantage”. It was a good talk but I thought it aimed more at the Intermediate than at the Seniors. One tip that was new to me and to others was using a comb of open brood to tempt bees in a swarm from awkward places, eg up a tree. I usually use a spot of Bee Go on a blob of cotton wool on a fishing rod or similar to steer swarms to within reach.
In the Q and A session at the end of the talk I pointed out that, in the south of England, the peak swarming time was a few weeks earlier than here in Ireland. I once plotted on a graph the dates of all the swarms I’d gained/lost/been involved with over many years. At that time the earliest was 24th April and the latest 4th September but the graph had a very sharp peak about 21st May.
Coffee break was in a different place this year and they had only tea! I kept my paper cup for nocturnal use for lubricating a throat parched with snoring and for moistening toothbrush and for washing down my pills.
It started raining again so I put my bag of booklets on my head to make my way back to the Assembly Room for the second lecture: Prof. Robert Paxton on Persistent Viruses of the Honeybee. This was an excellent talk and I wish I could read my notes better! Our bees have both DWV and VDV, the latter being worse. I must look up the website: http://www.beediseases.org .
Robert overran by a few minutes and the queue for lunch was already all down the corridor and curling round the stair well! I took a photo of a school poster with the apostrophe in the wrong place!