Saturday, 14 November 2015

Bees, eggs and history

Much earlier in the year I wrote about our foray into beekeeping.  Over the summer our bees have been away to a site where they had access to Himalayan balsam. They love it and despite it being a poor year and our colony being comparatively small we did manage to extract a few jars of honey.

Now the bees have come home and the hive is strapped down at the back of the garden to prevent it being blown over when the winter winds come. In fact we are a bit worried as it is under a very large ash tree and we are intending to move it soon out of range of falling branches.

In the meantime we have removed the strips which control the varroa mite and have put onto the top of the hive a glass quilt. When I was first told of this I imagined something out of Frozen but now I have seen it I realise it is a transparent crown board which lets us see the bees without disturbing them. Beekeeping is surprising complicated with a language all of its own.

Meanwhile the chickens are taking advantage of the mild November weather by pecking grubs up from their  pen. Their new home will soon be ready as at the moment they are a bit cramped and are laying on a pile of hay rather than in the nest boxes.

One day this week I heard a light knocking at the door. I was confused as Molly who does scratch to be let in was in her bed and Poppy the cat was on the settee. So I opened the door and saw three chickens. I did not invite them in.

I have been teaching this week about a lady called Nancy Nicholson. She was the wife of Rev John Nicholson the vicar of Drax in the nineteenth century and they also ran the school, the forerunner of the present Read School at Drax.

Life for the 12 pupils then was not pleasant as the couple were at war within their marriage and eventually parted. Rev Nicholson liked a drink while Nancy was a miser and persuaded the boys to steal eggs for her. She eventually moved to Asselby where she  died in 1854, seemingly unloved and unmourned. The story was later made into a booklet but although amusing at times it is also quite sad.

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