Last night, with the aid of my gps, I weaved my way along the secret back lanes of West Dorset and, with a bit of doubling back, found the village hall of Whitchurch Canonicorum exactly at 7.30 when West Dorset BKA’s lecture on Thermal Performance of Beehives was due to start. Fortunately, although advertised in GMT, they use local time (about 2 degrees and 45 minutes west of Greenwich) in West Dorset so I had nearly a quarter of an hour to find a seat in the very full hall and see who was there.
Besides members of the local branch, I saw people from Dorchester & Weymouth, East Devon, Blandford & Sturminster and, sat next to me, Somerset. The talk had been well advertised!
The speakers, who worked as a team, were husband and wife Derek and Elaine Mitchell from Hampshire. Derek took the lead as the scientist while Elaine, who is the beekeeper, took over at times to demonstrate the practical side.
With the aid of a magic lantern Derek showed diagrams and graphs to demonstrate that Tom Seeley’s 40 year old description of the sort of hollow tree preferred by swarms is the most efficient thermally while the design of hive usually preferred by beekeepers is least efficient. Then they showed off their own polystyrene hives.
When question time arrived I took the opportunity to speak about the winter, inside and out, temperature measurements that apprentice Sarah made on a top bar hive of mine at her Bee Happy Plants nursery. I described how the two lines of measurements, when plotted on the same graph, were mirror images of each other, indicating that when it was colder outside it was warmer inside and vice versa.
After several others had raised points or asked questions, it was time for tea and cake! I went around the table about 3 times! West Dorset has some really talented culinary artists and I expect they’re probably ok at keeping bees too.