In Summer 1913, Britain was gripped by a bizarre and strange disease which seemed to be killing honey bees and Blantyre didn’t escape.
The phenomenon was known as the “Isle of Wight” disease thought to be caused by a micro insect or mite (acarine) which got into bee hives. Allegedly originating in the Isle of Wight, it was believed to spread to mainland Britain and eventually up to Scotland.
In July 1913, Mr Templeton who owned the former smiddy on Broompark Road had to destroy three bee hives in his back garden after finding masses of dead bees. The affected hives were cleaned out and along with surrounding areas, disinfected. I can imagine it wasn’t a pleasant sight. Mr Templeton alerted the Scottish Beekeepers Association who put out a further alert, this time for Blantyre area.
Interested to know more, I found that the Isle of Wight disease (known as IOW disease) was considered later as being a myth and that climate conditions that Summer and surrounding summers had been to blame.
In a subsequent study in the 1960s, it was concluded, ” The I.O.W. outbreak was no ordinary epidemic, brought about by a period of unfavourable climatic conditions. Acarine disease causes as severe losses now as it ever did in the past, whenever highly susceptible stock is brought in contact with it. The main signs of the so-called I.O.W. disease were no different from those of acarine disease today.”
So, did Mr Templeton destroy his hives and the rest of the bees unnecessarily? We will never know. His smiddy is pictured in 2009 and was demolished not long after.