The Apiarist in 2022

Synopsis : A review of the year on The Apiarist; top of the posts, weirdo searches, clickbait titles and coffee. Don’t expect anything erudite. Happy New Year!

Introduction

And another year ends.

After 51 posts, ~160,000 words, 999 comments and ~62,000 spam ‘adverts’ for fake sunglasses, casinos, ivermectin 1 and goodness-only-knows-what (in Russian) later, this is the last post of the 2022.

Assuming this appears before midnight on the 30th I’ll have 2 managed to meet my self-imposed deadline of posting every Friday afternoon this year. This is my annual review of what happened on the website during the year, which were the most popular posts, where did visitors come from or go to etc.

Warmer days

Overall, the ~510 posts on the site were read ~20,000 more times than last year. This is a fractional increase over last year, despite the fact that readers increased by ~7.5%. I assume this might be due to the articles being longer (and therefore more self-contained 3 ), though there may be other reasons to do with changes I’ve made to the server that runs the site (and the accuracy with which I count ‘real’ visitors).

The first posts on The Apiarist – on Paynes poly nucs and clearer boards – were made in 2013, so this year marks the end of a decade of writing.

During the last year, what have visitors been reading?

Top of the Posts

Like all the best award ceremonies 4 I’ll go through the top 10 in reverse order.

The following posts, together with generic ‘landing’ pages like www.theapiarist.org and www.theapiarist.org/blog account for about one third of all the posts read during the year. With the exception of the two indicated, all were published before 2022.

10 – Swarm prevention

Why colonies swarm and the mechanics of swarming … and some suggestions on how swarming can be delayed or prevented. The fact that the majority of more popular posts were on swarm control suggests this article might need rewriting 🙁 .

9 – Queen cells … quantity and quality

How many ’charged’ queen cells should you leave in a colony when applying swarm control – or after a colony has swarmed – to prevent the loss of (further) swarms. The answer, as you well know, is one.

8 – The nucleus method

My favoured swarm control method. Performed properly – which isn’t difficult – it is 100% effective in preventing swarming and uses a minimum of additional equipment. For the last 2-3 years this is the only method of swarm control I’ve used, and it has been totally successful. I don’t know why associations continue to promote Pagden’s artificial swarm when this approach is easier to both understand and apply … and uses less boxes.

7 – Pagden’s artificial swarm

As taught in many beekeeping associations. Usually accompanied with a Tommy Cooper-like commentary resembling the ’glass, bottle, bottle, glass’ sketch (YouTube) … but with less laughter (or applause). Interestingly, Pagden started as a skeppist and the original protocol he developed was for use after a colony had swarmed 5.

6 – Vertical splits and making increase

An alternative swarm control method that – like the nucleus method above – uses relatively little additional equipment. It can result in more lifting and the stack of boxes can be rather cumbersome and/or heavy. Very useful in an overcrowded apiary or if you plan to merge the colony back together and not make increase though 😉 .

5 – The ultimate hive stand? (2022)

I usually try and avoid the clickbait-type titles for posts … you know sort of thing; ’Beekeepers warned to avoid this common procedure’ or ’Make £50,000 a year from your bees’. Or the instantly memorable, but non-beekeeping You’re a single celled organism. Can you evolve into a duck? You’ll also not find posts on ’The 10 best hive tools’, or similar. I don’t own 10 different sorts of hive tools so am not qualified to make the comparison. However, I made an exception and included the superlative ultimate in this title, resulting in thousands of views since July (and a huge increase in advertising revenue 6 ). It’s also a pretty good hive stand.

4 – Demaree swarm control

Another eponymous swarm control method that is more popular with readers than it is with me. I prefer not to have drone brood emerging above a queen excluder and find it less reliable than the nucleus method (above). It’s also more difficult to manage midseason mite management (during a Demaree) should it be needed. Like the Pagden method, the current implementation differs from the original description by G.W. Demaree.

3 – Winter covers and colony survival (2022)

A surprise third place (to me at least) … and one that generated a lot of comments. Although the paper the post was based on left more unanswered questions than PMQ’s it was clearly of widespread interest and something I’ll return to in the future.

2 – Mad honey

I now live on the remote west coast of Scotland surrounded by rhododendron-infested oak and birch woodlands. The native bumble bees forage on the rhodos with abandon, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a honey bee on them. Which, considering the paresthesia-inducing grayanotoxin the nectar contains, is perhaps fortunate. However, a ’stoned’ Turkish bear cub 7 in mid-August triggered a tsunami of visits to this post, coupled with offers of – and requests for – honey.

1 – Queen cells … don’t panic

And the winner is … an article on what to do when you find queen cells during a routine colony inspection, including specific instructions on not panicking. This was also the most read post in 2020 and ’21. 50% of all visits to this site come from search engines (Google, Bing etc.), the majority of which ‘hide’ the search terms entered … I like to think many of the visits to this page come from a search for ’Aargh! Queen cells, I’m panicking!’

What does this ‘top ten’ tell me?

Seven of the top ten posts are about swarming, its prevention or control. This is not because the majority of the posts on this site are about swarm prevention or control. Instead I think that this is an aspect of beekeeping that many people – I assume particularly beginners – struggle with.

However, whilst swarming might result in the loss of a swarm 8, it rarely results in the loss of the complete colony.

It feels like a disaster, but isn’t.

Drone comb built under a super frame in a brood box

In contrast, poor management of Varroa will regularly result in the loss of the colony, but it’s not until the 14th most popular post this year that the first post on mite control appears.

I suspect this reflects a couple of things:

  • swarm control is needed during the summer months (May – July) when readership of this site is the highest. There are about 2-3 times the number of readers in June as December.
  • there’s something more ‘immediate’ about the need for swarm control, whereas many beekeepers think that miticide treatments – as long as they’re applied sometime – are less time-sensitive. I’m not at all convinced that this is correct; swarm control is clearly time-sensitive, but I’d argue that winter mite treatment with oxalic acid can be almost as time-critical.

And – since you asked – the least popular post was a 2017 article on the need (or otherwise) for midsummer colony inspections which attracted an underwhelming total of just 9 viewers 🙁 .

I think all this really tells me is that the search facility is used rather infrequently … and the indexing is not as good as it could be.

Where from and where to?

About 50% of readers reach the site from Google searches which account for ~90% of all the search engine traffic that leads here. I’ve stopped bothering looking through the search terms (other than for this annual post) as they’re generally a combination of obvious beekeeping terms (swarm, queenright, Varroa) and glaring typos (swam, denaree, fundationless).

However, now and again there are searches that could make for entertaining future posts:

  • how to calculate items in a jar 9
  • what colour are queen cells 10
  • コンタクトキラー 柔術 11
  • little drama 12
  • have flour water honey salt what can i make 13
  • profit per hive beekeeping 14

Readers leave the site via the outgoing links I embed in the posts. Of these, links to the equipment supplier E.H. Thorne’s were the most commonly clicked (perhaps I should ask for a lucrative sponsorship deal? 15 ), with Wikipedia a close second. I’m a big fan of Wikipedia, particularly for recent cultural references, and donate to support it.

Hives and a nuc

Thorne’s and Wikipedia were followed by the Welsh BKA (for articles by Wally Shaw), the National Bee Unit and Dave Cushman’s website (now maintained by Roger Patterson), though these three lagged well behind the first two.

Behind the scenes

The site is self-hosted on a virtual machine in the cloud.

I’ve no idea what that means either 😉 .

Not this sort of cloud (at least, I don’t think so)

However I do know that it involves a reasonable amount of maintenance to ensure the site is secure, that the firewall lets bona fide visitors in whilst excluding ‘script kiddies’ and the majority of bots, and that software is kept updated to minimise vulnerabilities.

All this takes more time that I would like and, because of my limited abilities, a lot more time than it should.

However, it also gives me a bit more control over things. After a major site upgrade in September I now want to introduce a few more changes over the next few months.

Comments

The commenting system is, frankly, a bit primitive. It’s the one that comes packaged with the software that runs the site, but it lacks certain features I think would be beneficial. I’ve tested a number of alternatives and hope to switch to another system soon. It should make comment approvals (for me) easier and will facilitate better threaded comments, and ‘upvoting’ helpful comments. For the terminally shy it should also allow anonymous commenting, with certain provisos.

I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to comment on posts this season. These help clarify errors I’ve made, or suggest alternative interpretations or conclusions.

Social media

New posts to this site appear on Friday afternoons (at the moment … goodness knows what’ll happen in the future). They are automagically announced on Facebook and Twitter.

Social media

Or were … 🙁 .

This ‘free’ feature of the software that runs the site will very soon become a ‘premium’ feature for which they’ll try and charge me over £100 a year extra. It’s this sort of ‘feature creep’ (the wrong term, but I can’t think of the right one at the moment 16 ) that takes either time or money to fix.

I don’t have much of either.

Of the two, Facebook generates a bit more traffic. However, I’m not a Facebook user and I find it an abomination to use interactively. Therefore … if you rely on Facebook for new post announcements then please consider signing up for email announcements instead. The Facebook linking may well disappear altogether.

You might have noticed that Twitter is a little chaotic these days. Adverts and hate speech are increasing on a daily basis and it’s becoming a much less pleasant environment. I barely use it, and I get the impression that others are using it less. Follower numbers are all over the place and it’s less ‘fun’.

At the current rate Twitter may well go bankrupt before I decide to stop posting new post announcements there. In the meantime, those of you who have switched to Mastodon can find me at https://mastodon.scot/@theapiarist. I will endeavour to make new post announcements to Mastadon and Instagram (the latter is a relatively new account, but is altogether better than either Facebook – who own it – or Twitter).

Newsletter

There isn’t one.

But I would like to replace the current email system (and possibly some of the social media stuff listed above) with an emailed newsletter. If so it will be ‘opt in’ and you’ll need to sign up separately for it.

Watch this space.

Coffee

The ~160,000 words of beekeeping wisdom verbiage this year were generally written late at night, aided by an unhealthily large – but nevertheless deliciously invigorating – number of cappuccino’s and flat white’s. I think the latest I stopped was 3:15 am, a time unreachable without copious quantities of coffee.

I’m therefore very grateful to supporters who ’Bought me a coffee’ in 2022, and particularly grateful to those of you who are repeat supporters.

Lovely

This support not only stops me slumping semi-conscious over the keyboard in the wee hours of the morning, snoring stentorianly, but also helps offset the costs of the server and the associated software needed to run the site 17.

Thank you 🙂 .

Even Buy Me a Coffee has suffered from ‘feature creep’ in 2022 and stopped taking Paypal payments. I know this caused some supporters a problem. If you’d like to support The Apiarist but want to use Paypal you can now do so via Ko-fi 18.

Praise and abuse

Someone presumably not on the supporters list is ‘RG’ 19 who posted a comment on April 1st:

Who are you??? What is your connection to the bee world.? Are you a credible writer and have the expertise to make statements about bees and bee able to back it up? Are you an expert bee person? Where do you get the information you post?

I receive a lot of similar sounding generic comments which usually contain links to other websites i.e. adverts of one form or another. I therefore assumed it was one of these or an ‘April Fool’, albeit not a particularly good one, and banned RG.

However, I also did a little research and discovered a beefarmer of the same (unusual) name in Iowa. I’ve no idea if it was one and the same person. Whether he was or wasn’t, he ensured the ban was permanent by sending me an even less polite follow-up email.

Fortunately, the majority of the communications I receive – in comments on individual posts, direct emails or accompanying coffee contributions – are very much more supportive and appreciative.

Thank you again for this support. It goes a long way to offsetting the few negative comments from RG and the like.

The Apiarist is retiring

Actually, The Apiarist has retired.

I always thought that 32 was too early to retire 20, but it’s going great so far 🙂 .

Whilst I still have bees on the east coast of Scotland, that’s unlikely to continue much beyond the start of the 2024 beekeeping season. I now live permanently on the remote west coast and have other plans and priorities.

These other plans and priorities (obviously) include a significant amount of beekeeping. However, not exclusively … assuming the weather is better than the shocker we had this year I’ll be doing more walking, cycling, sailing, canoeing, birdwatching, photography and (a lot more) lounging around looking at the view.

Laptop, binoculars, coffee … my summer ‘office’

I’ll also be doing more writing, though not more here.

Three thousand word posts are probably too long for the majority of readers. The average this year is about 3,100 words. The tens of thousands who read Queen cells … don’t panic – a mere 1500 words long – were probably looking for a quick answer.

I’ve found X … what must I do next?

They don’t have time to learn about why they’ve found X, what the colony was doing before X appeared, or what it would normally do next with X.

Despite the fact that knowing these things would almost certainly help them know exactly what to do when X appeared 😉 .

Conversely, 3,000 words is too few to do the really big and important topics in beekeeping justice.

Environmental competition, climate change, neonicotinoids, fake honey, treatment-free strategies and lots of the science would benefit from more in-depth coverage. Even some of the more ‘anecdoty’ (that isn’t a word, but should be … OED tells me that anecdotal would be better) posts would benefit from more space.

I’m looking at alternatives.

Coming next

If there are topics I’ve not covered, but should, then email me with suggestions. I’ve written almost 800,000 words on beekeeping since 2013 so do a quick search first to check it’s not already been covered.

I’m not keen to simply rehash stuff that’s already written. There are only so many ways that you can describe Pagden’s artificial swarm and it gets boring just shuffling the words into a slightly different order.

However, remember that I’ll only cover topics I feel qualified (and competent) to write about, so you won’t find much here about candlemaking or mead. I’ve done both, and although I might be qualified I’m a long way from competent.

But … I can’t promise I’ll write a post on any particular topic … at all, or any time soon 21. I need to know something about the topic and be interested in it. Both of these (particularly the first) are major limitations.

Much of the reward of writing these posts is furthering my own knowledge of the honey bee and beekeeping topics that fascinate me. That’s why I’ve written several posts recently on larval selection for queen rearing; it’s clear that the ways the bees do it and the way beekeepers do it are fundamentally different.

Is this relevant to beekeeping and queen rearing?

Possibly … I don’t yet know enough.

A new beekeeping year

I’m writing this is the dying days of 2022, a year which will be notable (in the UK) for political chaos 22, the end of Covid 23 and climate change; we started with storms Eunice, Dudley and Franklin and ended it being the warmest year on record 24.

As I discuss in my talk on Planning for the season ahead, at a first approximation it’s reasonable to expect that next year will be much the same as this year, or the average of the last few years, at least when considering the weather.

You’ve therefore got a pretty good idea what to expect and when to expect it.

Now is the time to start making your preparations … and perhaps your resolutions for the season ahead.

Whatever 2023 brings, may your supers be heavy, your queens fecund, your bees well-tempered and your swarms … from someone else 😉

Happy New Year


 

Footnotes

  1. Clearly Covid hasn’t gone away … probably because of the reliance on ivermectin.
  2. Miraculously.
  3. Necessitating reference to fewer pages … though perhaps they are just less readable.
  4. Differing only in the absence of an actual award.
  5. He may also have been a first class cricketer.
  6. Not.
  7. Not a phrase I ever expected to use on this site.
  8. It doesn’t need to – see the (much less popular!) posts on queen clipping or bait hives.
  9. Your guess is as good as mine as to how this led here …
  10. One for April Fool’s day perhaps?
  11. Which appears to translate to ’Contact Killer Jiu Jitsu’.
  12. Most of mine are major dramas.
  13. Sourdough?
  14. Profit? Dream on!
  15. I’ll not mention that only 0.25% of page reads resulted in a visit to the Thorne’s website.
  16. Robbery?
  17. There’s no advertising, despite some of the quips, and I’d like to keep it that way.
  18. And thank you in advance if you do.
  19. Anonymised to protect the guilty.
  20. Ahem!
  21. I’ve got a list of about 60 things in my drafts folder already.
  22. It’s not over yet.
  23. It’s not over yet.
  24. And, like political upheaval and the end of Covid – you’ve guessed it – climate change is also ‘not over yet’.

56 thoughts on “The Apiarist in 2022

  1. m o rourke

    nucelus away with queen for swarm controll,but i cage and harvest the resulting queen cells leaving 1 to requeen,rest to apideas.if colony not suitable queens raised from donated larvae

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Martin

      Yes … many other ways to deal with the QC’s but I was specifically talking about swarm control for beginners (who presumably don’t have Apidea’s etc.). One of the great things about beekeeping is that there are so many ways to do things.

      Happy New Year
      David

      PS And with many thanks for the Ko-Fi 🙂

      Reply
  2. Tim Davies

    Hi David

    Just to say that I read your posts with interest every week and like the humour you manage to inject. So really well done to you. I am envious of your West Coast hideaway. It sounds idyllic but you don’t say too much about the biting midge or do they leave you alone.

    Have a great 2023. May the midges leave you alone

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Tim

      The midges are very localised up here. Our house is a bit up the hill and so there are usually breezes, even on a calm day, which keep the midges at bay. Our neighbours, a few hundred yard away and 100′ lower down the hill have monstrous numbers of the little b’stards 😉

      And yes … it is idyllic … even on a day like today with strong winds and intermittent sleet.

      With Best Wishes for 2023
      David

      Reply
  3. Michael Wilton-Cox

    I enjoy your posts, even though sometimes time pressures make me skip a little of the text. However, it would be really sad if you stopped, so please do let us readers/followers (us genuine ones) know what we can do to follow you in any new writings you may produce. Long may your beekeeping and writing be enjoyed – by you and by us. Thank you for all your work, time, efforts.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Michael

      I’m not intending to stop, but I might try and reduce the length of some of the posts and use the time to redirect my efforts elsewhere. Now I (nominally) have more time I’d like to generate something that’s a little less transient than a weekly blog post. 3000+ words a week, every week, is quite a bit to write (and read).

      Have a great 2023.
      Cheers
      David

      Reply
  4. Rembrandt Niessen

    Hello David,

    Thank you for another year of highly informative and most readable Apiarist posts. The year in review synopsis provides a further helpful roadmap as to what keeps us (relative) newbies awake at night.

    One thing concerns me, though, ….. what is this about ‘retiring’ ? Much hope you will keep posting, even if you might be keeping less ?
    I also keep hoping for a beekeeping book one day. Trust that your followers will gladly keep you in coffee and more as and when you set your had to it.

    Wishing you a happy and healthy 2023
    Rembrandt

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Rembrandt

      The ‘retiring’ was from gainful employment. If anything I hope to be doing more beekeeping and writing more, though not all of it will be here. A book would be fun but my recent experience with one (grossly unprofessional) publisher has made me wary.

      With Best Wishes for 2023 and the season ahead
      David

      Reply
  5. Shelagh Molloy

    I hope you will continue with at least some of the longer articles. I very much like the depth. There are lots of practical ‘how to’ books, vids etc, but your scientific inquiry approach is not available elsewhere. Maybe a Guardian ‘long read’ – so labelled as a promise/warning to readers – would be a way to go?

    Meanwhile, a big thank you for the articles. I look forward to them on all subjects and will happily continue with the emails only.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Shelagh

      A Guardian ‘long read’ is a nice idea. You’re right that there a lot of how-to books and videos. I’ve got some other ideas as well and so we’ll see how things develop over the next few months.

      Delighted you enjoy the articles and the email notifications will continue (hopefully uninterrupted).

      With Best Wishes for 2023
      David

      Reply
  6. Carolyn

    Laughed on re-visiting Tommy Cooper and glad I’m not alone in preferring simpler methods of swarm control, with minimal movement of heavy boxes. Chuckled through the rest of your blog as ever. Thank you and a very Happy Hogmanay!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Carolyn

      That Tommy Cooper sketch makes me giggle every time I see it. I’ve seen consultant surgeons teach Pagden’s artificial swarm and get their left and right mixed up (as they are facing the audience) leading to any amount of confusion by the trainee beekeepers … so much easier to just remove the Q and yet very few books appear to promote this method.

      Happy Hogmanay to you a well … and Best Wishes for the season ahead
      David

      Reply
  7. Iain Dewar

    Hi David, seasons best to you and yours, and thanks for this year’s posts, they have made very interesting reading and are always a welcome arrival in the inbox!
    So what’s next? Well here’s a thought!
    There has as always been a perceivable focus on swarm prevention / control which seems to be forefront on many beekeepers minds and is considered by many to be the key to successful beekeeping. I’ve always wondered about that, what does it really achieve, and who benefits? It certainly goes a long way to maintaining fully productive hives, but what does it do for honeybee population dynamics and species health especially in the face of the now endemic Varroa? Swarming is their natural mechanism for maintaining strong genetic health and diversity, and is essential to their evolution. Well executed swarm control, efficient Varroa control methods, and lack of available natural nesting sites is really doing nothing for the future genetic health of the species. In the long run are we actually doing more harm than good by keeping them reliant on human intervention rather than giving them the opportunity to evolve by natural selection as nature intends, successes and failures in order that those with the best suited traits go forward?
    As it currently stands the majority of our honeybee populations are surviving by artificial means delivered through human interventions. Is this the best way forward? Is it sustainable? Is there a better way? Are we even looking for a better way? When we talk about beekeeping do we even consider the conservation of the species?
    Those thoughts might put the cat among the beekeeping pigeons but it’s a conversation I think we will need to have late or soon.
    All the best for 2023
    Iain D 🙂

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Iain

      Those related topics are too big to tackle in the comments section of a post reviewing (tongue in cheek) the season just gone. However, I agree that they are important topics that deserve attention.

      Briefly … in terms of the survival of the species I don’t think we have anything to worry about … the combination of open mating and the regular movement of colonies around the world ensures good genetic mixing. The issue of Varroa is more concerning. Our management methods – including many promoted here – effectively makes the bees dependent upon our input for survival. There are alternatives and there are many who promote treatment-free beekeeping. How realistic this is as a strategy for managing honey production colonies in a crowded landscape is unclear to me …

      However, getting from where we are now to having a population of honey bees resistant to or tolerant of Varroa is likely to result in the loss of the majority of colonies … and there’s no guarantee that those that survive will be suitable for beekeeping, pollination or honey. Do we still want bees for these three things?

      In some ways there are parallels with measles virus. Varroa, like measles, was introduced to a naive population from a different species (measles evolved from rinderpest virus of cattle, during domestication 10,000 years ago) arguably from man’s actions. We subsequently developed a measles vaccine, without which thousands of kids would suffer and many hundreds would die. We (generally) choose to vaccinate. We could choose not to, but – at the population level – the consequences are devastating and would be unacceptable.

      I currently consider Varroa treatment the lesser of two evils (though I don’t really consider it as ‘evil’). I want to have strong, healthy colonies … for honey production as well as for their own inherent ability to fend off wasps, mice, and other pests and pathogens.

      Undoubtedly this and related topics will be revisited again in 2023. I’m already in discussion with a treatment-free beekeeper and hope to write mor about this in the spring.

      Nothing wrong with putting the cat amongst the pigeons 😉
      With Best Wishes for 2023
      David

      Reply
  8. Keith Taylor

    if this is your 1000th comment of the year, can I use it to express my thanks on behalf of all of us who look forward to your posts every week. In yet another year of flux and uncertainty, Friday evenings spent reading your essays are one of lifes precious little routines. Happy New Year to you and here’s to another year of life amongst the bees.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Keith

      Not the 1000th, but not far off. Delighted the posts brought a tiny sliver of badly edited, typo-encrusted beekeeping calm to what (I agree) has been a pretty topsy-turvy year.

      With Very Best Wishes for 2023
      David

      Reply
  9. Leigh Knott

    This was a wonderful look at the context of your blog which is my favorite. I find your material just the right mix of context, how-to, why, and humor. Thank you for all that work and generosity. As for the the future, I sure wish a publisher would compile a group of your posts into a book! It would be a delight to read them and have as a reference on the actual bookshelf.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Leigh

      I suspect it’s not quite as easy as binding a few posts together and adding a shiny cover. My writing style is too slapdash and colloquial for a book. A lot of the cultural references would age rather badly. Nevertheless, it’s a very kind thing to say and I’m delighted that you enjoy the posts (both content and my half-baked attempts at humour).

      With Best Wishes for the season ahead
      David

      Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello John

      Ha! I’d need a publisher for that, and the last one that contacted me turned out to be a big disappointment.

      Cheers … and Best Wishes for 2023
      David

      Reply
  10. Angie Dunn

    I’m an avid reader of your blogs and my beekeeping life would be much the poorer without you! Thanks for all the info and insights ❤️

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Angie

      That’s a lovely thing to write, thank you 🙂 There’s a little bit of selfishness in it as well, as I also enjoy the insights and information.

      With Very Best Wishes for the season ahead
      David

      Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Giles

      I think this happened before … I hope the comments system I intend to migrate to is a little less problematic.

      With Best Wishes for 2023
      David

      Reply
  11. Karen

    I have so enjoyed reading all your posts over the last few years. As a result I have learned a lot – although there is always more to learn! I wish you a happy 2023.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Karen

      Excellent … delighted it has been useful. And there’s always more to learn.

      With Best Wishes for 2023 and thanks for the coffee 🙂
      David

      Reply
  12. Dave Stokes

    Co-incidentally, my mother always claimed to be 32 years and a few months old – right up until she died just short (a few months) of her 102nd birthday.
    Thanks for you year-long efforts at keeping me entertained and informed.
    Happy New Year,
    Dave Stokes.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Dave

      I’m also “and a few months”, but rounded it down for convenience 😉 Clearly your mother also appreciated that 32 and a bit is a good age to go through life at, and I’m impressed she managed to convince everyone for almost 70 years. I don’t expect to be so successful … 😉

      With Best Wishes for your 2023 beekeeping year
      Cheers
      David

      Reply
  13. Graham Read

    No question, just Happy Christmas and New Year; always thoroughly enjoy reading your articles – I like to feel I learn something and prompts a desire to know more. Thanks for taking the time to write them.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Graham

      If you both learn something and want to know more then I’m clearly doing something right 🙂

      With many thanks and Best Wishes for 2023
      David

      Reply
  14. Janet Harvell

    Hi, I tried to buy you a coffee but it kept asking me to put in my card details – which I had – so am afraid I gave up. Do you know if you have a problem?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Janet

      I have many, many problems ( 😉 ) but both BMAC and Ko-Fi appear to be working OK. In my experience there are three problems I encounter with cards – including (or not) the spaces in the 16 digit number, the format of the ‘valid to’ date (mm/yy or mm/yyyy) and having no money in my account 😉 For anyone other than me it’s likely to be one of the first two. Whatever the reason, thank you for trying and I’m pleased that you value the weekly posts.

      With Best Wishes for the 2023 beekeeping season ahead
      David

      Reply
  15. Yvonne Wagner

    I for one very much enjoy your contributions to the knowledge of beekeeping, and especially I enjoy your style of writing that is so entertaining. Sorry to see PayPal go as a way to help costs; I am an artists and many I know use Patreon on YouTube. But they is a different platform.
    Again thank you for what you do!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Yvonne

      I’ve looked a couple of times as Patreon, perhaps I should again? PayPal still works via Ko-Fi but BMAC abandoned PayPal with very little notice. I’m delighted you enjoy the writing – both content and style – and hope you have a great beekeeping year in 2023.

      With Best Wishes
      David

      Reply
  16. Geoff Spry

    Hello David,
    Just want to concur with all the above comments.
    I always look forward to Friday and email posting from you, even the more esoteric topics are “a good read “!
    I appreciate the repository of beekeeping wisdom available with a quick search and you help with problems.
    Best wishes for 2023 from the west coast of Canada.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Geoff

      With many thanks and Best Wishes for 2023 and the season ahead (which will start a little later than ours but will include the same sort of challenges, excitement and disappointment).

      Cheers
      David

      Reply
  17. James

    Thank you for all your postings, David. They often start me on journeys of great interest.

    “Retiring” at 32 though? From the cultural references littered throughout your posts I might assume that you’re working in base 17 😀

    I look forward to reading more in 2023.

    James

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi James

      Unfortunately more like base 29 🙁 At least, that’s what it feels like sometimes. I’ll reply separately to your email as I’ve got an overdue BBKA deadline of my own I must deal with first. It’s a worthwhile topic to tackle … 😉

      Delighted you find the posts enjoyable and understand different number systems 😉

      With Best Wishes for 2023.
      David

      Reply
  18. Iain Dewar

    Hi David, yes they are big questions and topics that present great challenges. They are the conversations that our beekeeping community need to have in order to move on, and move on we shall!
    All the best for 2023
    Iain 👍😉
    ps tried to buy you coffee but can’t get that app to work 😕

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Iain

      Let’s see if we can kick off some of the conversations here in the season ahead … I can’t promise to cover all topics you mentioned (actually, I’m pretty sure I can promise not to cover them all) but there are some I’ve already been investigating.

      With thanks again (and for persevering with Ko-Fi 🙂 )
      Best Wishes for 2023
      David

      Reply
  19. Alan Jones

    Hi David, I’m a bit late to the party ( I always read your column after looking up my Parkrun result at Saturday lunch) But would like to thank you for your column and wise words.I like the way you are prepared to answer readers even if they have disagreed with you!
    I wish you and your family a healthy New Year and I look forward to next years Apiarist.
    Cheers
    Alan Jones

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Alan

      There’s nothing wrong with polite disagreement, and it usually is. Beekeeping is a pretty broad church and there’s lots of different way that what needs to be done can be achieved. There’s no point in being didactic about it … other, of course, that Buckfast’s are awful bees and should be replaced at the earliest opportunity with dark, native Apis mellifera mellifera 😉

      With thanks and Best Wishes for 2023
      Cheers
      David

      Reply
  20. Richard

    Thank you, David, for your articles. I look forward to reading them at the end of each week, and they have helped so much in my developing skills, and acting as a consolation to my disasters! I love the range of the topics that you cover, from the science to the practicalities of working with bees. Happy New Year, and may the season ahead be the best ever!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Richard

      I sometimes think I write the posts as a sort of cathartic process to absolve me of my beekeeping sins … I’m delighted they’re useful to others ;).

      Happy New Year!
      Cheers
      David

      Reply
  21. Archie McLellan

    Hello David

    It’s intriguing that you have changes planned for The Apiarist blog. I know you have to work hard behind the scenes with the technology to keep it working well, but out here, it just seems like ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

    It’s too bad that you have to steel yourself for the negative mail and spam you receive. Rusty Burlew once (just once) wrote a very calm post about her experience in that area. It was horrific!

    With all the topics in your drafts folder, The Apiarist obviously isn’t going away any time soon. So it’s good for us that you’ve retired from your day job. Except that no doubt you’ll be as time-poor as ever, and just wonder how on earth you managed so much while you were working full time.

    All best wishes for a good season, and a warmer, drier summer than 2022!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Archie

      I hope the changes will be limited and, largely at least, behind the scenes. Even if bits of it ain’t (yet) broke … they will be if I don’t do something 😉

      I’ll have to look out that post by Rusty. The spam is inevitable and lots gets filtered out automagically so I never see it (and rarely look subsequently). The filters are so good these days that stuff identified as spam almost always is spam and there are virtually no ‘false positives’ (unless someone posts a comment about Ray-Bans, ivermectin or bitcoin). In contrast, there are a few false negatives and these are relatively easy and quick to deal with. Direct email is a different matter though very few are downright rude. I’m often inundated with requests for help or advice and it’s tricky to ignore them, but even trickier to find the time to answer.

      Even if “The Apiarist” disappeared tomorrow (it won’t, I’m just finishing the post for next week) I’m delighted to have retired from the day job 😉 . However, the science isn’t quite finished yet … we’ve just had a paper accepted on coordinated Varroa control at the landscape scale (which I’ll discuss sometime in the future) and just submitted one on virus replication kinetics in drones (which is a little more esoteric and I may not ever mention it again 😉 ).

      I took the liberty of trimming your comment in light of our email exchange …

      With thanks for the coffee and the emails, and Very Best Wishes for 2023.
      Cheers
      David

      Reply
  22. Vince Poulin

    David – one more well deserved “Thank You” from an avid reader who greatly appreciates the expertise and depth to which you bring us each week. You have without question been an inspiration to myself and so many others. Whether its basic bee keeping or challenging explorations into the behaviour of bees your topics are fun to read, informative and helpful. Please hang in there! There is only one David Evans. My best for 2023!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Happy New Year Vince!

      Don’t worry … it’s work I’ve retired from, not writing 😉 Apologies if my punctuation and/or phrasing suggested something else. I’ve lots of ideas for the future, though I expect the average length of the articles to be a little shorter so it doesn’t take up all my retirement ‘free time’.

      Unfortunately, your statement “There is only one David Evans” is demonstrably wrong 😉 For a start, I had a colleague of exactly the same name in the School of Modern Languages at my last University. He would get sent confidential documents on University science research strategy and I would receive French dissertations for marking (he was almost certainly better at the strategy than I was at the French). My surname is the 8th most common in the UK and 48th most common in the USA. My forename has never been outside the top 35 most popular names. A Google search turns up 2.9 million matches, including another Professor David Evans and a racehorse from Wales.

      I think the two things we can be certain about are that; 1) there’s more than one David Evans, and 2) my parents lacked imagination 😉

      I’m assuming you’re back from Nepal?

      Cheers
      David

      Reply
      1. Vincent Poulin

        Ha, your too brilliant! Among all those David’s and Evans lies just one David Evans “the keeper of bees who holds the keys to their understanding”! Most of your “friends” would agree. Yes back from Nepal. A challenging expedition – the body is 10 pounds lighter. My taste for Teahouse food has been forever altered – please no more MO MOs or Dahl baht. We did not summit. Janet got to Camp 2 and son Alex a high point at 18,000′. The trip plan was devised by a long mountaineering friend. I reviewed it carefully and thought it would be an exciting adventure and fitting for especially my third time to the Khumbu. The acclimatization plan looked good but it was the killer. What I failed to see were the ups and downs and added meters of elevation going from point A to point B. w
        We would drop to valley bottoms then climb back up. Brutal! On our second day we climbed over 3000 m!!! The first 4 days somewhat similar. Distances were also off. Most days needing up to 8-9 hours of travel time. I virtually burnt out and with 35 days to go it made for one difficult trek and climb. Then sickness hit. Hard to escape it. Alex went too high on a rest day+acclimatization hike with the lead climbing guide. They went up 2500′ from 14000. Way to high. They were to not exceed 1000′. He was hit with AMS. A rest day did not help so we descended 2000′. It helped but he wasn’t the same for the rest of the climb. This played out over 35 days. I dropped 10 pounds and Alex 17. Janet was a super girl and nearly summited but she too expended to much energy on the trek. I debrief my friend this Friday. I assured him – this is mountaineering. We take on what comes at us. Reaching summits is not the point for many of us. It’s the journey. it’s time spent in wilderness with people we love and respect. Such memories stay with us for our life times. I have no disappointment just a better understanding of how to make it to the top next time.

        Reply
  23. Phil Redhead

    Thank you so much – always insightful posts even if I don’t manage to read them all, I know they are there if I need to go back to something.

    Keep up the fab work please

    All the best for 2023
    Phil

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Phil

      You’d be wise to copy any you might want in the future … I’ve got ‘fat fingers’ and am constantly mistyping stuff … a misplaced sudo rm -rf on the server and Pffftt!, it’s gone forever 😉

      Happy New Year 😉
      Cheers
      David

      PS That was a joke … I’ve got it backed up somewhere on a floppy disk

      Reply
      1. James

        You may joke. I have actually done it. On a customer machine that we didn’t have the installation media for. Whilst in the root directory. Oh how everyone laughed. At me 😀 I got a special award at the department’s Christmas dinner that year…

        James

        Reply
        1. David Post author

          Oops … 🙂

          We used to have a “Hands like feet” Christmas award for the member of the team who’d accidentally wrecked the most expensive/newest/least repairable piece of equipment during the year. It was always good to make a triumph out of a tragedy.

          Cheers
          David

          Reply
  24. Aline

    Happy New Year David – and thank you. Your posts have been/are invaluable, thought provoking and helpful to my bees too as I might, just might, be a slightly better bee keeper.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hello Aline

      Thank you and Happy New Year … if your bees have been helped and you think you are a better beekeeper then it sounds like you’re doing something right 😉 . Delighted you find the posts useful. Thank you for the coffees and have a great 2023 season.

      Cheers
      David

      Reply

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