Due to the very unfortunate loss of all the minute books of the Association prior to 1986 all this information has been gleaned by Mr Charlie Irwin from hours spent poring over old copies of the Scottish Beekeeper and from snippets of information held by the SBA. We are very very grateful to Charlie for all the work he has done to compile this information, and we look forward to any future gleanings he can accumulate regarding our past.
Glasgow & District Beekeepers’ Association was founded in 1918 by Mr Peter Bebbington.
The meetings at that time were held in the Christian Institute on Waterloo Street in Glasgow. The first President was Mr Richard Whyte.
In 1921 the President was Mr Alexander Steven, a gentleman who held the Scottish Beekeepers’ Association Expert Beemaster Award and was Beemaster to the Princess Louise’s Hospital at Erskine House. The Erskine Hospital was instituted in 1916 and is still in operation today, in 1921 they cared for maimed soldiers assisting them to add to their incomes by ‘successful keeping of bees’. Mr Steven was an important lecturer who raised the profile of Glasgow and District Beekeepers’ Association.
In 1923 at the Scottish Beekeepers’ Association’s AGM on the 3rd of February, a Scheme of Insurance for Members, prepared by Glasgow & District, was adopted.
During 1924 Mr Robert Howie, a Glasgow & District member, was the SBA’s Propaganda Committee Convenor. He broadcast beekeeping information on BBC Radio - or the wireless, as it was known at that time.
The Association held regular meetings in the Christian Institute and, in the summer season, apiary visits were arranged. In 1924 there was a visit to the apiary of Mr H M Stitch in Kilbarchan on the 5th of July. And on the 16th of August 20 members visited the apiary of Rev John Beveridge at Gartmore, where it is recorded it was a very wet day. The members were obviously adventurous considering the distance from Glasgow to Gartmore and the state of roads and transport at that time. It would have been possible to have made part of the journey by rail.
The Association received lectures and demonstrations on subjects such as Honey Judging, Bee Diseases, Dissection of Bees for Diagnosis, and Microscopy for identification of both adult and larval diseases – such as acarine, nosema and foulbrood.
In 1925 it is recorded that there was a record attendance for a lecture on the 16th of January by Mr John Anderson MA BSc, speaking on Biology and Beekeeping.
During 1925 the membership stood at 124 and five members gained the SBA’s Beemaster Certificate. Mr H Malcolm McCallum was the President in 1925, with a Miss Annie Adam as Secretary and a Mr A Stevenson held the post of Treasurer. Various apiary visits were arranged and lectures were given to Guide and Scout groups. There were also demonstrations of wax rendering and honey extraction. It is interesting that the photographs taken at apiary visits rarely show anyone wearing a veil. The average honey yield this year is recorded as being 51 ½ lbs per colony.
In 1926, towards the end of February, there was sad news of the death of Mr Richard Whyte, the first president, who died in a house fire along with his son. Meetings were weekly at this point and normal lectures were geared towards encouraging good beekeeping. There were five additional lectures given specifically for beginners.
In 1927 three Glasgow members gained the SBA’s Expert Beemaster Certificate; 12 gained the Beemaster Certificate; and one member qualified as a Honey Judge. At the AGM the Association elected its first Lady President, Miss Annie Adam.
In 1928 a Honey Show was held in the Singer Hall Clydebank. By the end of the year the Association had 196 members and had enjoyed 4 summer outings in addition to the usual meetings which were still held in the Christian Institute.
In 1929 the Honey Show was held in conjunction with the Horticultural Show in the Kelvin Hall. It ran for 3 days in September. It was reported that the heather on the Association’s site on Stockiemuir – about 14 miles north of Glasgow – was no longer yielding and a new heather site was to be sought.
In 1930 the Association could now boast 4 honey Judges. Mr Howie was still broadcasting on beekeeping topics on BBC Radio – his topic for May being ‘The Honey Market’. During the year members attended an illustrated lecture on the use and management of Skyscraper Hives. And on the 23rd of August the Association joined with the Cardross Association on a visit to a heather site. A Beekeeping Advisor from Auchincruive was present and gave advice and instruction. At the Honey Show this year there were a good number of entries for the extracted honey classes however a number of section exhibits were disqualified for poor quality (i.e. they were not fully sealed) and others were described as ‘poorly presented’.
In 1931 Miss Adam accepted an invitation to become the Insurance Convenor for the SBA. The membership stood at 216 and it is recorded that many members had gained SBA certificates: 1 for Beemaster; 4 for Expert Beemaster; 3 for Honey Judge. A Mr Gracie addressed the Association and spoke against the practice of importing French bees. There was also some controversy between the North of Scotland and the West of Scotland regarding the number of brood frames required in a hive. The West favoured 10, the North not fewer than 20. There is a photograph of an apiary visit in Lesmahagow in the July, 40 members attended and there is not a single veil in sight. In the December Mr John Smith of Kilmarnock gave a talk on crystallised honey and of his early experiments of seeding honey – the results of this experimentation were to be made known when they were available.
In 1932 there was a lecture by Mr A Limond, speaking on The Importance of the Drone in Queen Rearing.
The records for 1933 describe a visit to Mr Walker in Kilmaurs, Ayrshire, where 45 members were shown the Stewarton hive in use. On the same day they visited the apiary of Mr Stevens and had tea in the town Hall followed by talks on beekeeping. In October Dr and Mrs Tennant both gained Expert Certificates. The Honey Show had moved back to the Singer Hall in Clydebank and there were a good number of entries. The annual subscription was 2/6.
The SBA magazine, Scottish Beekeeper, in February 1934 carried the obituary for Mr Robert Y Howie, a lecturer in art at the Glasgow Training Centre for Teachers. Mr Howie was SBA President from 1928 to 1930. In April of 1934 Glasgow & District Secretary, Mr James Marshall, announced that the Association was to donate £1-1-0 (one guinea) each year for three years for research into brood diseases at Rothamstead.
In the first quarter of 1935 a special series of lectures by Mr Struthers of Auchincruive College was held in Giffnock School. At the AGM, on the 27th of March, it was noted that there was a drop in the membership due to the formation of Paisley Beekeepers’ Association and of Lanarkshire Beekeepers’ Association. In this year Mrs Shepherd was secretary and Dr Tennant was the Association’s representative to the SBA. In May Mr Peter Forbes gained the Beemaster Certificate. In the summer there were the usual apiary visits. In the December edition of the Scottish Beekeeper Mrs Shepherd had an article published on a two brood box system of management using a Snelgrove Board.
On the 4th of July 1936 a group of 107 attended a visit to Mr and Mrs Shepherd’s apiary. 17 candidates were examined for the Beemaster Certificate by Mr Limond of Ayr and Mr Ritchie of Skelmorlie. Candidates attended from as far afield as Ayr. Mr and Mrs Shepherd gained their certificates that day. The 1936 Honey Show was back at the Kelvin Hall in August. In December Mr Shepherd gave a lecture on the Snelgrove method of management using the Snelgrove Board.
The AGM of 1937, on the 24th of March, saw a turnout of 40 of the 88 members and the Association boasted a balance of £7-15-10½. The Association had three Honorary Presidents – Dr Anderson, Mr Gadsby and Mr Hodge. The Honorary Vice President was the Rev Mr Beveridge. The President was Miss Allen, the Vice President Mr Black, the Treasurer was Mr Shepherd and the Secretary was Mrs Shepherd. Later in the year Mr John Walker from Kilmaurs in Ayrshire, gave a lecture titled, ‘My Life Among the Bees’. Amongst the information he imparted was that there were two types of Stewarton hive, namely the Stewarton and the Renfrewshire Stewarton. Mr and Mrs Shepherd were ‘leading lights’ in the Association and were the inventors of the Shepherd Tube. A swarm control device which led the virgin Queen, and young bees when they emerged from the hive for orientation flights, from the top box and deposited them at the entrance to the bottom box from whence they joined the original colony which had been de-queened. In October 1937, at the Central Hall Bath Street Glasgow where meetings were now held, Miss Allen introduced a Mr Cunningham whose topic was ‘The Best Bees for Scotland’. In November Miss Allen, who had lived for some years in Holland, gave a talk entitled, ‘Among the Bees in Holland and the Use of Skeps in Bee Sheds’.
In 1938 meetings continued to be held at the Central Halls on Bath Street. This was the year of the Empire Exhibition at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow. The SBA had a prominent pavilion at this large Trade Exhibition. Glasgow & District members were well represented in manning the displays. At this time a Glasgow member, Dr Tennant, was President of the SBA.