Wednesday 6 June 2012

Books and Bees

It has been a strange season for honey. April and early May were horrendous - rain, wind, grey skies. Oilseed rape in full flower and bees not able to get out of their hives. I was even feeding mine. Then sudden blazing hot weather and the bees went mad, packing in honey until late in the evening and starting soon after dawn again. I have two operative hives - the third one is still building up strength after I had trouble with its brood chamber - and from the two hives I extracted last week 125 lbs of honey. I shall leave the rest on the hives in case another spell of starvation weather looms. True, this is well below our annual average of 200 lbs, but, given the season, I think they've done pretty gallantly. Also I have well over 100 lbs left from last year so can keep up supplies to our retail outlet (which is Trevor Beadle the butcher in Chipping Norton).
My main book news this year apart from the usual fortnightly reviewing for the Sunday Times is that I vowed, in January, that I'd read Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (ashamed I never had). I ration myself to 40 or 50 pages a night and I'm almost at the end of the fourth of six volumes (in the old Everyman format). It is simply fabulous - a constant cascade of massacres, atrocities, and horrors of all kinds plus Gibbon's brilliantly wry wit, much of it at the expense of early Christians. Try it. I guarantee you'll soon be hooked., and the prose style is simply magnificent - as stately and as blood-soaked as the Colosseum.