The Chairman of Somerset Beekeepers’ Association, Stewart Gould, is urging beekeepers to keep local honey bees and reject a campaign to overturn the recent ban on bee imports.“Locally bred bees are perfectly adapted for the conditions; imported bees carry the risk of pests and diseases and are genetically better suited to the country of origin,” he said.
His comments follow media coverage of the new Brexit rules which have stopped the importation of honey bee colonies directly into the UK from the EU although queen bees are still allowed.
HMRC is aware that there may be attempts to get around the import rules by using Northern Ireland as a back door but anti-avoidance measures are in place.
“The importation ban is important and avoids the risk of bringing new problems to the UK’s bees. For example, bees in many areas of the country suffer from Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus which is associated with the importation of bees. And we are worried that the small hive beetle, which is in southern Italy, could come into the country and decimate our bees.”
Somerset Beekeepers’ Association runs courses to help members to rear their own queen bees from successful colonies which ensures they are adapted to the conditions in their own area.
Patrick Murfet from a beekeeping equipment company in Kent has started a petition calling on the government to reverse the new rules. That petition can be found here Petition to overturn the ban
In the interest of even handedness, you should be aware that there is a petition to uphold the ban, which can be found here
Petition to uphold the banning of bee imports
The number of beekeepers and bee colonies continues to rise in the UK; membership of the British Beekeepers’ Association stands at more than 28,000 while Somerset’s is topping a record 1,200.
Stewart Gould, Chairman
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.