Local lore

I’m quite struck by how weather, forage, and thus colony behaviour varies across the county. Early this year, the Oxford colonies’ behaviour was 2 weeks ahead compared to our cool countryside ones ten miles north. I wondered what kind of information I could find online to give us a guide to climate variation across Oxfordshire so those of us in the boondocks could use others as early warning of impending swarming or starvation.

I’ve found the following potentially useful links.

Oxfordshire county council record environmental information and have detailed maps of terrain and wildlife and, without the slightly confusing terrain info, biodiversity. Presumably, higher biodiversity means a wider range of bee foods and fewer nectar gaps through the year. There’s also a geodiversity map – I feel this is significant for e.g. droughts but I’m not sure how to interpret it.

www.naturescalendar.org.uk – this site gathers phenological data (first flowers of spring, etc) and publishes maps thereof. They’re not quite fine enough detail for our purposes.

I haven’t yet found any farming websites with microclimate information. Perhaps farmers just know their own areas so well no one needs to document it.

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