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Ian Rumsey


Pure and Simple (or: About Author's experiments)


Having reached retirement, being sound in wind and limb, and mentally ready to enter an early second childhood, it seemed quite natural to reduce beekeeping activities to their simplest possible form, and as an amusement, undertake schoolboy type experiments hoping to achieve a better understanding of bee behaviour.

For example, the alignment of natural comb, when a swarm is introduced into an empty box 9 inches x 9 inches square and 12 inches deep has puzzled me for the last three years and will no doubt continue for some time to come.

It would appear that each year some form of experiment needs to be undertaken. During the winter the experiment is decided upon and the equipment built. In the summer the experiment is carried  out and the results evaluated.

For example next years experiment will be as follows-

I am told that moving a hive about 3 feet will cause the bees to hover around the original site until they are exhausted and that they do not have the common sense to recognize their own home just 3 feet away.

I would like to observe this phenomenon first hand and investigate the reason for such behaviour. To this end I have built a small tram line 6 feet long upon which we have a wheeled trolley carrying a hive which may now be moved up and down the track with ease, and at our own convenience.

Details of the actual experiment are still under consideration.

The photograph of my apiary shows a yellow hive 6-4 which is situated on the tram lines. A wheel has yet to turn.

Hives 9-5;10-5;11-5;12-5 and 13-5 are part of a vertical magnetic field experiment and hives 7-5 and 8-5, in the far right hand corner,  have a rotating inner hive to add confusion to the bees and also myself.


The chap in the blue shirt is me, enjoying the Essex countryside.