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Marginal Gains

I run 38 marathons a year. Not all at once, nor even one at a time. Just to the office and back, 4 miles/day, every working day. With a few weekend runs thrown in for fun, it works out at around 1,000 miles a year. OK, so what’s my lycra-suited commute on the tarmac treadmill got to do with beekeeping ? The name of the game is: “marginal gains”.

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Amanda’s Bobbins

No wonder the Bermondsey Street Bees are always lèche-vitrining Amanda Thompson Couture (formerly Pussy Willow), diagonally opposite their own rooftop ateliers! All was revealed last night, when I espied Amanda's bobbins in the cutting room - they look remarkably like a magnificent, technicolour brood-nest. Fortunately, I didn't see anything in the Bermondsey Street Bees' size in her off-the-peg range. And a bulk order of 75,000 yellow-and-black-striped haute couture summer dresses is beyond a beekeeper's humble means. Carry on enjoying the window-shopping, les demoiselles de Bermondsey!

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Swords Into Ploughshares

As the days start to lengthen into Spring and the sodden earth ahoys with green shoots, we beekeepers start turning swords into ploughshares, building new frames of sweet-smelling wax foundation for the spring surge of bee-population. The nursery nurse is preparing to make her rounds on Ward B. This is when all things are beautiful and bright. For all creatures, small and great.

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Postcode Lottery

The maximum distance which a bee can fly in search of forage is 3 miles away from the hive. Any further, and the bee would expend more energy on a six-mile round-trip than it could possibly gather. So any beekeeping activity outside that 3-mile radius around your apiary might as well be on the moon.

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Flora And Fauna

Snowdrops. These slender, precocious shoots are primed to burst. For the bees, along with crocuses and winter aconites, snowdrops are like pollen canapés ahead of the bee-banquet which Spring will soon serve up.

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Wanted: 7 Billion Honeybees

So the increase of some 30% in biofuel feed crops between 2005 and 2010 dwarfed the 7% increase in honeybee colonies over the same period. But is this an artificial oilseed rape boom, or a honeybee shortage ? Or both? Personally, I would have imagined that the enlightened self-interest of the farmers who cultivate oilseed rape would have included a pollination policy in order to maximize yields.

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Sunshine

It’s tempting, isn’t it, as a keeper of bees, to take a brief look at this comparison between hours of sunshine per year in the UK and California. Executive summary: there are more than twice as many sunlit hours every year on Ventura Highway than on Bermondsey Street. Hard not to star humming: “I wish they all could be California girls”. Imagine - beekeeping in Ray-Bans on roller-skates amongst the almond groves. Stylish!

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Zun, Zea & Zand !

Zun, Zea & Zand !! A Bermondsey Street Bee loving today's scintillating Caribbean-style zunshine in SE1.

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Queens Go Green In 2014

Happy New Year to all you dedicated followers of bee-fashion! 2014's marking colour for new Queen bees is Green.

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