Beekeeper Terry Willis makes the most of the last broadsheet CP. Picture by Laura Holme.
THERE was a sting in the tail for Island beekeepers when the County Press announced it was turning tabloid from today's (Friday) edition.
In a tradition handed down from beekeeper to beekeeper over the decades, the broadsheet pages of the County Press have provided one of the most useful tools in the art of apiculture.
Its broadsheet pages were the recommended barrier to be used for the delicate operation of combining colonies.
“If you just put two colonies together, one will kill the other one. So you divide the hive with a sheet of the County Press with a few holes in it, so they get used to the scent of each other. They eat through the paper, then they find each other in the natural way,” said Terry Willis, chairman of the Isle of Wight Beekeeping Association, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.
“We always tell beginners it has to be the County Press because most of the other papers are too small. I was told about it by Mary Payne, who used to teach a course at the college.
“She kept bees for a long time and I’ve been doing it for at least 20 years. I run courses now and it’s something we always tell the beginners. It’s a tradition that’s been handed down for years,” said Terry.
But in an effort to keep things sweet with the Island’s honey industry, the County Press has donated dozens of old editions.
County Press editor Alan Marriott said: “One of the slogans for the new tabloid design has been bringing families together but we never realised we might be driving bees apart. As soon as we heard of their plight, we stepped in to help.”
Meanwhile, the County Press’s switch to tabloid format has also ruffled the feathers of Wally the parrot.
Sixteen-year-old African grey Wally, from Worsley Road, Gurnard, found the old-style broadsheet CP pages just the right size to line his parrot cage.
However, it looks now as if Wally and his owner, Ivan Taylor, 55, will have to learn how to use adhesive tape — or get a smaller cage - if they still want to use the CP as bedding.
Mr Taylor, an engineer, said: “Wally has two fresh sheets in his cage as he is cleaned out every day. I used to buy two copies of the paper, one to read myself and one for Wally. I will just have to buy some sticky tape, I suppose.
“It won’t stop us reading the CP, anyway.”