David Charles was one of Somerset BKA's most illustrious members and he will be sorely missed by his many friends in the beekeeping community here and across the UK.
His list of achievements is long and distinguished and included serving as President of the BBKA. His beekeeping friendships over the last 60 plus years spanned a who's who of latter day beekeeping giants including LE Snelgrove and Rex Sawyer.
He was a passionate beekeeper, communicator and teacher; he launched BBKA News and edited it for several years and wrote for BeeCraft magazine. He twice served as President of Somerset BKA, was a Vice President, a member of Somerton Division and wrote an excellent history of Somerset beekeeping (Somerset Beekeepers and Beekeeping Associations: A History, 1875-2005).
He was instrumental in the formation of South West Beekeepers’ Forum (which provides a forum for consultation on matters of concern and interest to beekeepers from across the region). He served two terms as chairman and was one of Somerset’s delegates until very recently.
Beekeeping accolades included being awarded the 1972 Wax Chandlers’ prize as the best national candidate in the BBKA exams; he was a Master Beekeeper and BBKA Honorary Member. Throughout his beekeeping career he was a keen supporter of the National Honey Show being, variously, a competitor, committee member, honey judge and, more recently, a supporter and visitor. He was a teacher and on retirement became the county's beekeeper adviser at Cannington.
In 2019 David gave up active beekeeping and his final public appearance was in late 2020 when he talked to Anne Pike, former SBKA chairman, in a BeeCraft Cameo video reminiscing about how he started beekeeping.
David was very good company, a hugely knowledgeable mentor and a lively contributor on Facebook.
David’ funeral was held in St John's Church, Glastonbury on January 15, 2021.
The news this week that Defra has granted a derogation for farmers to use the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on sugar beet in 2021 has caused uproar amongst many beekeepers and environmentalists.
Somerset BKA Chairman Stewart Gould told the local news: “We know that the intended derogation of neonicotinoid use is for a limited period and is to be used on sugar beet seed, a plant which is harvested before it flowers, and one that doesn’t attract bees, but systemic neonicotinoids, thiomethoxam in this case, are not selective, and are poisonous to all insects, threatening bees and all other pollinators in particular. “
One third of food is dependent on insect pollination and in the UK insects pollinate 70 types of crop – strawberries to cabbages.
Dave Goulson – Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex, founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and author of bestselling titles including ‘A Sting in the Tale’ – has responded to the news with a blog.
There is also a debate planned for Tuesday, 19 January https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/events/wild_live_bee-pesticides