Mr C. W. Dyer of Compton Crossing, Compton, Berkshire

[UPDATE 15 DEC 2014:  I have done a follow-up blog about Compton Crossing which was Mr Dyer’s home to find it click here]

[UPDATE 21 DECEMBER 2014 Footage on-board the train passing Crossing Cottage can be found here]

I found the two articles below about a beekeeper called Mr Dyer.  I hope this page finds its way to the historians of Compton. I would love to know where ‘Compting Crossing’ [sic] is and also what happened to Mr Dyer.

British Bee Journal – ‘Homes of the Honey Bee’

The Apiaries Of Our Readers – 21 December 1905

 Our friend Mr. Dyer makes another addition to the list of railway men who are good bee-keepers, and we are rather sorry not to have had more details of his profit- making from the bees he loves so well. His “Notes” are, however, useful and interesting. He says: —

“I herewith send a photo of my apiary, and, if suitable, you will perhaps include it in ‘Homes of the Honey Bee.’  In sending a few lines to go along with picture, I will confine myself to the photo as much as possible.

“I purchased my first swarm in 1893, after having made my first hive from used boxes; this is the second one on the right of your humble servant in the picture.  From that time forward I have made all the hives except the last one, on my left.  The first three gave me some trouble in manipulating until I converted them, as I commenced bee-keeping without the aid of any literature whatever, picking up what information I could until I became the possessor of a ‘ Guide Book,’ which is, to my mind, indispensable to a bee-mair.  I next joined the County Association, and soon after had a slight attack of bee-fever, since when, with plenty of work, I made very satisfactory progress, ending by having gained my third-class certificate.  I purchase the timber and make my hives in winter evenings — one or two each year as time permits, as, of course, all other bee-work has to be done.  Seeing that I am away from home working on the railway as a platelayer from 6 a.m. till 6 p.m., and as seen in photo I live at a railway crossing, my better half, in addition to being gate-keeper, is an ideal bee-man’s wife.

“I drive a small iron spike in the legs of all hives, in addition to which they stand on a piece of slate to preserve the legs.  I have requeened all the stocks seen except two, and have spare queens in nucleus boxes now.

“I break up combs and repair hives in rotation every three years as a preventive of foul brood, and am very partial to the carbolic-cloth for all summer work.  The background seen in the picture is a row of the beautiful Melilotus, which I consider one of the prettiest of all bee-plants, and have harvested about a gallon of seed from it.

“We cannot boast of large takes of honey, the average being about 30 lb. per hive, although quality is all that one could wish for.  As the greenhouse is conspicuous in the picture, and I am a bit proud of it (I find it very useful for extracting purposes), I would like to say it was practically built by myself before being put up.  It was made in sections, each side separately, and bolted together with screws and nuts at the corners.  It took me about two years to complete, and was finished in 1902; unfortunately, only the back is shown, with potting-shed and boiler house, as I could not show the frontage with a full view of the apiary.  It has a span-roof 10 feet high, the floor is 9 feet square; all the frame-work is pitch pine, being some disused signal-posts which I purchased from the railway company.  Our readers who are amateur carpenters will sympathise with me in the sawing and planing when I say these posts were 13 inches square at the largest end, and I sawed them down with the hand-saw!— a job I would never like to do again.

“The whole stands on a thirty-pole plot of garden in a field at the back of the house, which can be seen by the barley ready for reaping.  Apologising for departing from the subject of the picture.  I should like to say the 4 ¼ by 4 ¼ by 1 15/16 inch section, in my opinion, cannot be improved on.  I conclude by wishing our Editors and all bee-keepers prosperity for the year 1906”.


Railway map showing Compton and Churn stations. But where is Compton Crossing?
Railway map showing Compton and Churn stations. But where is Compton Crossing?

 Notes By The Way 8 July 1909

Swarming Vagaries. — Swarming has been very prevalent this season when the weather has been favourable.  On June 26 we had fifteen swarms in about two hours, and a neighbour living about two and a half miles away in a bee-line — Mr. Dyer, of Compton — had five the same afternoon, all five joining together.  I twice had two swarms join together, and this means time to separate them, which can ill be spared on a busy day.  One of my stocks has swarmed and returned to its hive four or five times at my out- apiary.  My man calls it the record swarmer.  The season has been remarkable, too, for stray swarms.  After two poor swarming seasons Nature is restoring the balance, and a good breeding season is replenishing the reduced stocks of bees.

Newly-hived swarms or “casts” must be fed with syrup for a few days, if the weather is not settled and warm, so that they can work.  Judicious feeding will enable them to continue comb-building, and thus help to establish the stock.  Another help to a new swarm is to give foundation, either in full sheets, carefully wired, or in half-sheets, which will not require wiring except when the weather is very hot.  If full sheets are given some space should be left for drone-brood. — W. Woodley, Beedon, Newbury. [NBTW 8 July 1909]


2 thoughts on “Mr C. W. Dyer of Compton Crossing, Compton, Berkshire

  1. What a lovely glimpse into the past, not just of bee keeping history. Amelia

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