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 lock down series of webinar lectures was originally envisaged as live and interactive - bringing beekeepers together to watch speakers giving practical tips or discussing their research in the field of apiculture.
However, we’ve received so many requests to view recordings that we have started to upload those that we have to the members-only section of this website (click here to go there). But note that these recordings are literally as-live – technical difficulties/clap for carers/tea breaks and all.
Not all speakers give us permission to record their talks and for some the technical issues are just too distracting. To date we have Eleanor and Rosemary Burgess talking about swarming and David Evans about rational varroa control.
Over time we plan to add to this library and hope you can take a look if you miss a lecture or want to revisit one.
Somerset BKA has awarded its most prestigious honour to Fred Horne from Yeovil Division.
The West Country Honey Farms Award is presented annually to the Somerset member judged by a panel of three previous winners to have made the greatest contribution to beekeeping in the county.
Up until now the award has been presented at the AGM but Fred is having to make-do with a photo of the trophy until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Fred, who first opened a hive in 1952, is a former Vice Chairman of Somerset BKA (1985-86), served as Chairman (1987-1989), is a Vice President (elected in 1990) and an Honorary Member since 2010.
He has been an active member of Yeovil Division since he joined in 1976 (when it was known as the Southern Division). Within two years he became Treasurer, holding the post for three years before taking on the role of Secretary for a further seven years. He has been a valued and loyal member of his Divisional Committee for almost the entire period of his membership. His most recent office was that of Divisional President (1999-2017).
In the citation for nomination it says: “For all the current membership Fred has always been there. Modest in mind and the epitome of a skillful mentor, Fred offers a master class example of how to communicate. Good mentors, like good teachers, are rare to find but he certainly fits the category well. His empirical knowledge of bees, inspires, encourages and motivates. Not one for gaining qualifications and post nominals, Fred made you think logically, rationally and reminded us that bees are doing what they want to do (usually for good reason) and that we need sometimes to just watch and listen and sometimes leave them to it. Fred, like some other rare individuals, has clearly mastered the art of communicating during his career as a teacher and is able to effectively impart his knowledge at a level commensurate to both the individual and the complexity of the question.
“Many of the Division's new members now realise the value of having Fred as their mentor and have appreciated the knowledge and passion that he has been able to transfer. Many inexperienced beekeepers have learned much, and more importantly, limited the potential damage that could have been done to their precious bees by seeking his counsil. By having this sound knowledge base available, either in person, or at the end of a telephone, their beekeeping has improved considerably.
“To quote a relatively new member: "It has been a privilege to know and seek the President's advice at times when apiculture was proving demanding and each and every time his wise and thoughtful words made sense and clarified the mire. The value and importance of a skilled mentor should never be underestimated".
“Fred stopped keeping his own bees a few years ago and has now stepped down as Divisional President. However, he has not really retired as he is still available to provide advice to the less knowledgeable and experienced members of the Division.”
The Annual Lecture Day on February 15 is FULLY BOOKED. It's great that so many of you are coming to this event and we're sorry to disappoint anyone who hasn't bought a ticket yet.
After Lecture Day we will review arrangements to see if we can accommodate more people in future years.
If you've bought a ticket but can't make it - let someone else come in your place
And remember to bring your ticket - either a prepaid paper ticket or an Eventbrite ticket - without it you won't be admitted!
SBKA has published a digital version of the Year Book for the first time.
Online publication makes the Year Book available to nearly all members, saves on the cost of print and is more environmentally friendly.
The Year Book is available for SBKA members to view and download in the members' only section of the website.
If you requested a printed copy through your Division's Secretary or Membership Secretary, it will be available after Lecture Day (Feb 15).
Thanks go to Year Book editor Bridget Knutson and officers from all Divisions who supplied information.