British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) was founded as the national body for beekeepers in 1874; the first committee comprising a number of eminent people, including scientists and leading beekeepers of the time.
The BBKA originally consisted only of individual members and, from the outset, one of its functions was to organise lectures by prominent beekeepers and scientists, which were then published and distributed to its members.
William Broughton Carr, who was a founding member of the BBKA, is better known amongst beekeepers as the creator of the “WBC” hive, which is still widely used by beekeepers today. This classic and attractive looking hive appears in many paintings, cards etc and is the type generally associated with beekeeping by the general public.
Just six years after the formation of the BBKA, eleven men met at 90 High Street, Chelmsford on 14th July 1880, with a view to starting an Essex branch, which they would call the Essex Beekeepers Association (EBKA).
The association was formed with the Rev. George Raynor, rector of Hazeleigh, as chairman and the Earl of Rosslyn accepting presidency. Initially, adopting the rules of the neighbouring association in Hertfordshire, the Essex branch soon developed its own format and went on to define the aim of the association as:
“The encouragement, improvement and advancement of bee culture, particularly as a means of bettering the condition of the agricultural and other labouring classes as well as the advocacy of humanity to that most industrious of labourers, the honey bee.”
Since those early days, the EBKA continued to grow, such that a number of local divisions were created within the county, including: Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester, Dengie & Maldon, Epping Forest, Harlow, Romford, Saffron Walden and Southend.
In recent years we have produced two Essex beekeepers who have achieved national renown for their best-selling books, the many articles they have written and their huge contributions to furthering the craft of beekeeping.
Clive de Bruyn’s (author of Practical Beekeeping) name is known to beekeepers throughout the UK and increasingly overseas as a result of the much time he devotes to beekeeping in developing countries.
The objectives of the association have of course been updated and over the years, the number of members has gone up and down, but with the public turning its attention increasingly toward green issues, global warming and the environment membership is once again on the increase.