A rough history of Worcestershire beekeepers Association.

In March 1882 Mr AH Martin of Evesham gave a lecture on Bees and Beekeeping to the Evesham Institute Field Naturalists Club

The lecture was printed ,in full, in the Evesham journal and provoked a great deal of interest so that Mr Martin sent 50 postcards to ladies and gentlemen to determine the level of interest for the establishment of an association. He had 40 positive replies.

He wrote to Lord Beauchamp of Madresfield Court, Malvern asking whether he would be willing to take the role of President. On Saturday 14th Oct 1882 a meeting was held in the Worcester Guildhall for the purpose of establishing a beekeeping association for Worcestershire

The new vicar of Evesham Rev. Ross Barker was actively involved chairing the inaugural meeting, Mr Martin (Evesham) was elected secretary, and Mr T. Slatter (Evesham ) treasurer

Rev. Ross Barker stated that the dissemination of literature, showing the improvements in methods of beekeeping, was a great advantage.

In Hertfordshire he had found that to interest villagers in beekeeping did a great deal of good. In 1880 he had sold for one poor man £9 worth of honey in London, and in 1881 a cottager had produced nearly 1000lbs. from 14 stocks of bees.

Beekeeping was not always a success but it was a source of interest and cultivated the intelligence.

Dr Fernie of Malvern said that some of the happiest moments of his life were those he had devoted to his bees. In his busy professional life, if he could run to his bees for a half hour he found inexhaustible delight.

The Worcestershire Beekeepers Association was duly formed with Earl Beauchamp as its President.

And vice presidents The Lord Bishop of Worcester, The Earl of Dudley, Lord Northwick, Lord Lyttleton, The Dean of Worcester, Lady Georgina Vernon, Lord Edward Churchill, Sir E. Lechmere Bart.M.P . Mr G Hastings M.P.

The objects of the association were the same as those of Warwickshire BKA namely;

The encouragement, improvement, and advancement of bee culture particularly as a means of bettering the condition of cottagers and agricultural labourers, as well as advocating humanity to that most industrious of labourers, the honeybee.

This was a time of great encouragement and innovation in beekeeping with many associations being founded. Indeed, a few years earlier, Lady Georgina Vernon of Hanbury Hall, had tried to start a Worcestershire Association and had held a honey show in Worcester, but it had foundered for lack of support.

Frame hives were being advocated at this time as a much more humane method of beekeeping compared to skeps, as it permitted honey harvesting without colony destruction and permitted easier overwintering of colonies. This was followed by the easier extraction of honey and the re-use of combs.

1851 Langstroth hive

1860 Woodbury hive ( Exeter)

1866 T Cowan hive

1873 British Bee journal founded

1884 BBKA founded

1885 campaign by William Broughton Carr to promote extracted honey

1890 WBC hive details published.

A further surge of interest in Beekeeping occurred between the world wars. The National hive came in 1920 (preceded by the Economic and Simplicity hives) and in April 1932 Kidderminster branch was formed and the county committee hoped that it might be possible to form new branches at Evesham, Bromsgrove and a joint branch of Malvern and Worcester in the near future.

The Ministry Beekeeping Advisor Mr William Herrod Hempsall gave a lecture on ‘Prominent Apiaries and Beekeepers of Great Britain illustrated by cinema films’ at various venues, throughout the County. On Friday 10th Nov 1933 he gave the lecture at Prince Henry’s Grammar School Evesham, and the result of his visit was that a branch was formed at Evesham.

The NorthEast Worcestershire branch ( Bromsgrove) was flourishing in 1934, but I will need to do further research to discover the origins of Hagley and Stourbridge. A group of Gt Witley members who had been meeting as a sub group of Worcester city, hived off on their own in 1953, and the Tenbury and Redditch branches disappeared.

This leaves us with the current position of seven branches occupying the county of Worcestershire with a combined total membership of around 700.

Martyn Cracknell

As part of the Worcestershire BKA, we have a County Executive that meets 4 times a year to run the 7 Branches. These meetings mange the operations with the following format:


County Executive Committee

 President, Secretary, Treasurer (elected at the County AGM )

Two named representatives from each of the seven Branches

( usually elected at each Branch AGM)

 Evesham   Hagley  Great Witley   Kidderminster Malvern   North East      Worcester                                               and                                                          and                                                         
                    Stourbridge                                           Upton

This meets four times a year to ensure that various events are in hand and to communicate with branches via their representatives. 

Topics  reviewed at each meeting are;

Correspondence received for information ( these and enquiries from the website are generally e-mailed directly to branch secretaries) 

Correspondence requiring a response

Financial report

Matters raised by branches via their exec member



December meeting

Branch hosting the County AGM gives details of venue and date, possibly also speaker or theme, for inclusion in branch programmes.

Request for branch secretaries to provide a summary of activities and notable branch events for inclusion in the Annual Yearbook. 

Also an updated list of  branch officers is required following the branch AGMs.

Plans for preparation of yearbook.

Plans for Countrytastic – who will do what

Fix the level of any honoraria.

Discussion of the propositions for the BBKA annual delegates meeting.

Feedback from the National Honey show AGM, and members successes.

March meeting

Confirmation of County AGM details

Check whether existing officers are willing to continue.

Check whether trophies have been returned and engraved

Consider any recommendations for honorary life County membership

Arrangements for the Spring Show at Malvern discussed, including honey price, supply of honey, source of observation hive, stewarding, and arrangements for the display.

Plans for the 3-Counties show exhibit

Progress on compilation of the yearbook.

June meeting

Feedback from the County AGM and the Malvern show.

Final confirmation of  3-Counties show and help required.

Appoint a member to represent us at National \Honey show AGM

Appoint a member to represent us at MSWCC AGM

Appoint a member to represent us at BBKA annual delegates meeting.

Forward planning for County Honey show, any amendments to the schedule. Who will prepare and distribute schedules.

Promotion of MSWCC

 September meeting          

Final arrangements for the County honey show,  

including honey price, supply of honey, source of observation hive, stewarding.

(Schedules will have been e-mailed to members)

Paper copies of schedule and entry form available for distribution to those who are not on e-mail.

Determination of the capitation for next year,to be ratified at the AGM.

Consideration of any propositions to be made to the BBKA 

Worcestershire Beekeepers Association

(2005 –as amended 2011)

1   a.           The name shall be “Worcestershire Beekeepers Association”, hereafter termed the Association.

b.            The aim shall be to support and promote the welfare and keeping of honeybees and the interests of beekeepers.

2a.          The Association shall comprise Branch Associations in the geographical area of Worcestershire (2004) together with their members as follows:-

  1. Ordinary members – subscription for the following year to be set at the Annual General Meeting.
  2. Junior members – under 18 years of age at Dec. 31st of that year, to be half the Ordinary rate.
  3. Honorary Life members – elected at a General Meeting.

b.            Subscriptions shall be due on 1st January each year and Branches shall be responsible for collection from their own members.  Each year Branches shall forward to the County Treasurer by 14th March monies they have received in accordance with 2a (i) & 2a (ii) above including Branch Life Members by that time. Such monies received after that time must be forwarded by 31st August.

c.             Each Branch shall be responsible for its own financial management.

3a.          Annual General Meetings shall be held, usually during April, at intervals not exceeding 13 calendar months with at least one during each calendar year.  The Chairman for the Meeting shall be the President, retiring Chairman or Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee, or a person elected by the Meeting.

b.            Each Annual General Meeting shall include the following:-

  1. Elections for the following Officers:- President, Secretary, and Treasurer.  Vice Presidents may also be elected.  One person may hold the dual office of Secretary/Treasurer.  Written consented nominations, signed by both proposer and seconder, must be received by the Secretary not less than 7 days earlier.
  2. If re-elected at consecutive General Meetings the Secretary and the Treasurer may normally hold office for up to 4 years.
  3. Presentation of audited accounts for the previous year ending 31st December and appointment of Auditors for the next year.
  4. Arrangement of the date of the next Annual General Meeting.
  5. Any changes to the Constitution which has been previously proposed in the correct way.

                 (See 6. below).

c.             Each member as in 2a. Present shall be entitled to vote and the Chairman shall have a casting vote.

4a.          The management of the Association shall be by an Executive Committee composed of:-

(i)            The Officers as in 3b.(i) above.

(ii)           Two named representatives or named reserve representatives chosen by each Branch.

b.            The Executive Committee shall meet at least 4 times each year.  It shall elect its Chairman and Vice Chairman for the year.  It shall receive a financial statement from the Treasurer at each meeting.  It may:-

  1. Fill any vacancy which occurs in any Office during that year.
  2. Appoint any sub-committee to act during that year.
  3. Authorise and assist the formation of new Branches or the winding-up or amalgamation of any existing Branches.
  4. Arrange meetings and/or shows.
  5. Co-opt any member of the Association or appoint Special Officers for that year.
  6. Refuse membership to any person without giving reason.
  7. Incur financial liability up to a limit of £500 having due regard to the sound financial management of the Association.

c.             The quorum for the Executive Committee shall be 5 and the Chairman shall have a casting vote.

5a.          The Secretary of the Association shall send notice and agenda of an A.G.M. or Special General Meeting including details of any proposed changes to the Constitution to each County member not less than 14 days before the meeting and notice and agenda of each meeting of the Executive Committee to committee members not less than 7 days before the meeting.

b.            The Secretary must arrange a Special General Meeting within 28 days of receipt of a written request for such a meeting signed by 10 members or made by the Executive Committee and a Special Meeting of the Executive Committee within 14 days of receiving a written request by 6 committee members.

6.            Any proposed changes to the Constitution shall be made at a General Meeting, shall require 28 days written notice to the Secretary to be given by 2 members and a majority of 2 to 1 of members present.


        Membership categories. 2016


  Full member (has insurance and bbka news)

Partner member

(does not get bbka news)

Must live at the same address as a full member.

Country member (does not have public liability or product insurance)

This is for non beekeepers.

Junior member Under 18

 (has insurance and bbka news)

 BBKA subscription £19 £11.20 £9.50 £9.50
 WBKA subscription £2 £2 £2 £0
BDI premium £2 £2 ------- £2
Branch subscription See below See below See below £0 recommended
Total fee.       £11.50



Branch subscription (2016)


Full member Associate member
Gt. Witley    
Hagley and Stourbridge   ------------------
Malvern and  Upton    
Northeast Worcestershire    

Subscriptions are due on 1st January.

Each branch sets its own subscription, and collects the whole amount. The branch portion is retained and the rest is sent to the county treasurer by 14th March.

The amounts due to BBKA and BDI are sent on.  Insurance cover becomes effective from the date of receipt of the subscription by the local branch.  However any subs paid after 31st March, do not become effective until forty days have elapsed.

Each branch secretary receives a copy of the BBKA yearbook which contains more detailed information about the insurance schemes.

Associate members.

A member of one branch may become an associate of another branch and thus have access to member benefits like cheap jars, or extractor loan.  As they are already members of WBKA and BBKA and have paid their BDI premium they simply pay the additional branch an agreed fee.     

The spouse of a full member may participate in branch events as an associate.

Branch Honorary Life Members

A branch may choose to honour one of their members by offering Honorary life membership. The branch will then pay the full subscription annually, until the person dies.

It might be appropriate to offer honorary Country membership if they no longer have bees and do not need the insurance.

Or perhaps honorary associate membership of the branch. In this case they would not receive BBKA news or a County yearbook, but would be able to continue to enjoy the social side of branch meetings.    

N. B. It is important to be absolutely clear about what is offered so that the financial implications are understood by committees in the future.

County Life Members

A County AGM may confer on a member, Honorary life membership which would be funded by the county funds. This usually includes BBKA membership and membership of their local branch. The financial implications of this need to be fully appreciated.

Branch Structure and Operation

Worcestershire Beekeepers Association is a registered charity, so we all have to operate within the County constitution which defines the aims as

1b. “to support and promote the welfare and keeping of honeybees and the interests of beekeepers.”

Other specific references to branches are;

2c.Each branch is responsible for its own financial management.

4a.ii two named representatives or named reserve representatives (for the Executive committee) will be chosen by each branch.

4b.iii The executive committee may assist the formation, amalgamation or winding up of branches.

Each branch usually has a constitution, which provides guidance for the smooth running of the branch. It must operate within the umbrella of the County Constitution, and must not have conflicting aims or practices.

Each constitution has to be approved by the Charity commissioners and any changes to a constitution must be notified to them.

The day to day running of branches will be a matter for each committee.  They probably need to meet  5 or 6 times a year  to co-ordinate a programme of activities through the season.

All branches have loads of new members but are finding it difficult to get new committee members.

This may help.

  1. Make sure that the work is well shared out among as many as possible so that no job is too big.
  2. Make the jobs time limited ( eg two years) so that people do not fear being lumbered for life.
  3. Write a job description so that volunteers can see exactly what the job entails.
  4. Appoint an understudy for a year to shadow a postholder to see what a job entails before they take over next year.
  5. 5.Duties of the secretary
    1. To call committee meetings, produce the agenda for them and take minutes of the meetings.
    2. To keep records of meetings.
    3. To receive information from the County secretary and pass it on to members.
    4. To communicate branch activities to members.
    5. To put key dates on the County website.  ( may be a joint signatory for issuing cheques )
    6. 6.Duties of the treasurer
      1. To register renewing members and take membership fees and BDI premiums
      2. To send a list of members and the appropriate capitation to the county treasurer by 14th March.
      3. To register new members throughout the year and send their names and addresses to the County treasurer as soon as possible.( so that they receive their BBKA welcome pack and start to receive BBKA news as soon as possible.)
      4. All capitation fees to be paid by 31st August
      5. To bank money and maintain the account books.
      6. To arrange an independent audit  of financial affairs  annually.
      7. To prepare a financial statement for the branch AGM
      8. To provide an inpayment and outpayment facility for running branch activities.

Duties of the chairman

  1. To maintain orderly conduct of meetings.
  2. To welcome speakers, demonstrators, judges, and to give/arrange for appropriate vote of thanks.
  3. To ensure that equipment loaned to members is “fit for purpose” and that “all reasonable steps” have been taken to minimise the risks of accident or injury to members, or the public, arising from the beekeeping activities of the branch.
  4. To ensure that risk assessments are in place before meetings.  (may be a joint signatory for issuing cheques)

Other committee posts

Roles which could be allocated to specific individuals may include,


show secretary,

  1. to prepare a show schedule,(lots of ideas in the National Honey show schedule and the Welsh honey show schedule)
  2. arrange for judging and stewarding,
  3. receive entries  and prepare class tickets
  4. record the points and prepare show cards and determine trophy winners
  5. record keepers of trophies
  6. arrange engraving
  7. retrieve trophies for next year/presentation.

newsletter editor

web master

  1. keep the branch website up-to-date

apiary manager

  1. manage branch colonies throughout the year
  2. arrange for extraction and sale of honey and wax

equipment loan officer,

  1. store branch equipment
  2. operate a booking system for branch equipment
  3. check the safe operation of equipment
  4. ensure equipment is cleaned and is of “food grade”

programme secretary,

                Useful events include;

  1. Jan                A  meeting at which subs. can be collected, perhaps combined with a social function or a winter talk, or film, or oxalic acid distribution, or planning apiary activities, eg assembling new frames for branch hives.
  2. Feb              Apiary Spring cleaning
  3. March         Visit to the BBKA Spring convention or Welsh beekeeping Convention
  4. April             County AGM
  5. May              swarm control  / queen rearing /  disease monitoring
  6. June             honey extraction
  7. July               Family social / bee tea/ / barbecue /
  8. August        Honey removal and extraction
  9. September  Honey show   ( allowing time for the best to go to County or National Shows)
  10. Trip to MSWCC
  11. Uniting   /   Feeding  /  Closing down
  12. October      National honey show and convention.
  13. November Indoor meeting, Quiz,lecture,
  14. December  Branch AGM and social

Try to ensure that apiary visits have a purpose. E.G. How to do an artificial swarm, or a shook swarm and ensure the demonstrator has all the necessary materials available. FERA inspectors have their own agenda….. inspection for disease.

We should not be opening hives just for the sake of it.

Good ideas for meetings can be found in the annual yearbook, in the account of other branches, and on their websites, as well as the programmes of surrounding counties.

The BBKA yearbook, (one is given to each branch secretary) has info about resources which can be borrowed from the BBKA, Lecturers, judges etc.

microscopist                      offer an identification service for Nosema, and Acarine

spray liaison officer        record the locations of members apiaries so that they can be notified if agricultural spraying is to be undertaken

swarm coordinator

mentors for beginners                  to help new entrants to get through their first year

training team/education officer  to help  members to progress to the Basic exam and/or modules


first aider                            to be on hand at apiary meetings

social secretary                to organise recreational, social functions without necessarily having anything to do with bees.  Annual dinner, Bar-be-cues, trips out, inter-branch get-togethers.

N.b. these don’t all have to be on the committee

The officers of the association and its branches are covered by”Trustees Liability” under the terms of the BBKA policy in case of a claim against them arising from their activity as a branch official.

 (limit of £2million, with a  £500  excess )

Third party public liability and product liability insurance provides cover for financial loss arising from a claim against the member for injury or loss deemed to have resulted from their beekeeping activity, or from their hive products. ( limit of £10million with a £250 excess for property damage) This cover is essential for most market stalls, fairs and displays.

N.B. Removing a wasp nest is NOT a beekeeping activity.

Hive products  with added ingredients are NOT covered.

Activity above 3 metres from the ground are NOT covered.

Branch trophies and equipment are NOT covered for theft, loss or damage.

Branch responsibilities to WBKA

  1. Each year, the exec member of one branch, takes the chair for the next four exec. meetings.
  2. In the same year, that branch hosts the County AGM. They arrange the venue and date, and organise a tea for those who attend, for which they charge a nominal amount to cover their expenses.
  3. They arrange for a speaker to give a talk after the business of the meeting.  The County contributes to the cost of the speaker from central funds, up to   £100 pounds. The county pays for the hire of the venue.
  4. In the following year, that branch is responsible for a display at the Spring garden show at Malvern. We have an information area usually with an observation hive and a sales area for honey and hive products.  We have this stand space free of charge, but in return we are required to put on an educational, entertaining or interesting exhibit for the enjoyment of the public. The stand is indoors, with security guards, in the area devoted to “specialist societies”

                The  Malvern show runs over four days so there will be a need for stewards to man the stand, talk to the public about bees, and sell the honey. It is a good day out and you get a free ticket for a couple of hours on duty on the stand.


The responsibility for the AGM rotates around the branches in the following order;

                                                2013/14                Hagley and Stourbridge

                                                2014/15                Evesham

                                                2015/16                Gt. Witley

                                                2016/17                Worcester                                          

                                                2017/18                Northeast Worcs

                                                2018/19                Kidderminster  

                                                2019/20                Malvern and Upton

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