Beekeeping Diary of Amy Mary Driberg of Uckfield Lodge, Crowborough, mother of Labour politician Tom Driberg, containing dated and initialled autograph entries, and detailed accounts of honey taken, sold and given away, with a few ephemeral items.

Amy Mary Irving Driberg (d.1939) [née Bell], of Uckfield Lodge, Crowborough, wife of J.J.S. Driberg, and mother of Labour politician Tom Driberg (Baron Bradwell) (1905-76) [beekeeping; apiculture]
Publication details: 
[Uckfield Lodge, Crowborough, Sussex.] Dated between 1 July 1932 and 4 July 1938.
SKU: 12477

142pp., 4to. In a ruled notebook, bound in black cloth, with marbled endpapers. In fair condition, on aged paper, in worn binding with loss to a corner of a board. Starting at one end of the notebook is the diary of autograph entries, each dated and initialled by Mrs Driberg. In 1932 Mrs Driberg, a formidable Scottish widow in the last years of her life, has five hives (numbered 1 to 4, with a fifth observation hive), with a sixth hive (No. 5) added by 1934. This is clearly rather more than a mere hobby, and it is a matter she takes extremely seriously, being assiduous, businesslike, and regular in her chronicling of her apicultural activities, describing the health of the bees, the state of the hives, the weather, and advice and assistance rendered by other individuals. The first entry, '1.7.32 A.M.D.', reads: 'Doing in sections or shallows, not even drawn out - not nearly enough bees - | This afternoon went through no 2 & no 3 hives - nothing yet doing in supers, only in brood boxes - about 10 lbs honey in each hive - very poor - again not enough bees - saw queen in no 3 - but did not see nucleus queen in no 2 & very little sealed brood, two or three small queen cells - most disappointing as it is a splendid honey year -'. A week later (8 July 1932) she reports: 'On Monday the 4th. July received stock of bees from Overton. Mr. Wadey came up in the evening & we united them to the Obs[ervation]. hive taking away ten of the old frames, but the bees are still not up in the sections, we put on a third rack - only in two brood boxes - one of these nearly full of honey. Then out side we transferred one brood box with Sturgis queen from no 1 to no 2 hive which was queenless - This evening I went through outside hives - No 1. with one brood box is strong, doing a little in section rack not up in shallows which is on top - saw queen, no queen cells - No 2. hive strong in brood, 2 boxes, & bees, not much honey, not up in sections - no queen cells, did not see queen. No 3 hive, strong in brood & bees, not much honey & nothing doing in supers - no queen cells did not see queen - Owing to weak stocks to start with have missed the first honey flow - next is just starting'. On 20 July 1932 she reports the arrival of the 'Buckfast queen': 'I introduced her, Snelgrove method, after tea - she was accepted quietly & from the sound of the hive all is well'. References to Miss Gordon and Mr. Wadey, the latter reporting on 22 May 1933 that 'there had been a queen in the large cell but possibly the old queen had torn it down - there were no eggs so the queen had stopped laying'. On 24 July 1933 Wadey gives 'a virgin queen to No 1 Hive & put a clearler board on to No 4 Hive with brood box'. On 3 May 1934 she reports: 'Miss Gordon came over yesterday & we spring cleaned the Obs. hive - It was very strong, 9 frames of brood, sealed & otherwise, full of bees, we saw the queen, a beauty & this will be her third year - I removed two frames of sealed food, probably syrup, leaving plenty of food & nectar coming in - put in two new frames, below, in place of these two - Very satisfactory.' Reviewing 1934 she writes: 'This has not been the record year I had hoped for - next year I hope to try placing the queen in the lower brood box with some empty frames then excluder, with second brood box over this - then supers as required'. She declares the 'honey harvest for 1936 [...] an utter failure as far as I & several others are concerned'. In May of 1937 she reports that Wadey has looked after the hives while she has been 'away to Brazil'. The last entry in the diary, in July of 1938, reads: 'A poor season - altogether 43 lbs. of extracted honey - about 50 sections, mostly not completed. -' [Section Two] Starting at the other end of the notebook are 25pp. of honey 'taken', 'sold' and 'given away' between 1932 and 1937. Entries for each year are usually dated, with names, dates, weights and prices paid; and descriptions of 'honey taken' (for example, in 1935, '8 sections not perfect no 4 hive | 3 sections good observation hive | 13 sections not perfect outside hives | Rim Honey 220 lbs. 12 oz.'). Loosely inserted in the volume is an autograph table titled 'Autumn 1938 | Feeding of bees', giving a number of pounds of sugar for each of five hives, together with an article from 'Bee Craft', September 1933, by S. M. B. Hardwicke, titled 'A Method of dealing with Prime Swarms', an article by Dr F. Thompson titled 'A quick and simple method of hiving a swarm', a newspaper cutting on 'Wasp Stings', and an advertising postcard for Antibody Products Limited, Watford, Herts ('British-Bee-Venom'). Note: "Wadey" is Herbert James Wadey, editor of "Bee Craft", authority on the subject.