Apr 27, 2010

His Partner Calls Him "Honey"

Yes, those are bees!  

I came across this picture while searching  Google for "Isle of Wight Disease" which allegedly "wiped out" Britain's bee population in the early years of the 20th century. First observed on the Isle of Wight.  A parasitic mite apparently infected the air passages in the bees' bodies. Does anyone remember parents/grandparents/greatgrandparents talking about this? Probably WW1 casualties and Spanish 'Flu dominated at the time. The disease is mentioned (in passing) in Seigfreid Sassoon's "Memoirs of an Infantry Officer." 
"Wiped out" seems a bit extreme.  More likely Britain's bees developed a chin-fetish, possibly attracted by particular brands of shaving soap. Another article tells how the monks of Buckfast Abbey bred a resistant hybrid honeybee(*), along with their mind-numbing liquor.

Mrs. Trellis tells me she will award points for the most far-fetched explanation of "Isle of Wight Disease"  And what do points mean?


(*) Said to have been a cross between a common bumble-bee and a shaving-brush, but personally I think that's a Very Silly idea.


  1. Originally the collective noun for bees in the Isle of Wight was 'herd' but people kept getting them confused with cows from neighbouring Jersey and you really don't get the milk yields. Anyhoo, on those days it was considered quite a skill to herd our little buzzy friends as the chap in your picture is doing. And they made much better scarves than cows did (cows can't knit - no opposable thumbs, so it is ironic they were called Jerseys). A bee scarf was useful when you didn't own a shirt, like matey here. There was no telly in those days so people would be really impressed and shout to each other: 'Look at that amazing bee-herd!' And when the bees died out of Isle of Wight Disease (basically over-milking, but it only happened here because of the confusion about the word 'herd') men got nasty chills due to the absence of scarves so they began to allow the hair on their face to grow long - still called a 'bee-herd' to this day.

  2. Bee's my arse. This is you in a mad moment of hirsute youth!

  3. This gentleman, who probably came from the Isle of Wight, was obviously trying to vie with Edward Lear, who wrote:

    There was an Old Man with a beard,
    Who said, "It is just as I feared! --
    Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren,
    Have all built their nests in my beard.

    His own version ran thus:-

    A bearded old man of sobriety,
    well known in the highest society,
    said " These Isle of Wight bees
    who are full of disease
    have lost every sense of propriety!"

    Talk about a desire for one-upmanship among the local yokels...

  4. Broken Biro . . . I thought I was funny . . . but to you I bow the knee.

    CJ . . . I thought it was Karl von Frisch studying the language of bees at close quarters.

    Jinksy . . . your snazzy verse would make Edward leer . . .

    Mrs. Trellis says "10 Points for BrokenBiro . . . " Competition still open.

  5. How perfectly fascinating to learn that the Isle of Wight disease was first observed on the Isle of Wight. And here I thought it started in St. Paul, Minnesota.

  6. Blogger has ceased saying 'Page not found' - he's obviously just remembered where he put it!


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