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A Somerset Beekeepers’ Association has been in existence almost continuously since 1876. It was in 1905, however, that L.E. Snelgrove, a young schoolmaster at Weston-super-Mare, became the Honorary Secretary of the former Bristol, Somersetshire and South Gloucestershire Beekeepers Association. He set about re-forming it into one that was viable, effective in fulfilling its function, and covering the whole of the county of Somerset.
Snelgrove established it on such a firm footing that in 2006 the Association celebrated its centenary, having promoted the craft and fulfilled the changing needs of beekeepers through two world wars and two major crises caused firstly by the dreaded “Isle of Wight” disease and more recently through the arrival in this country of the varroa mite.
At first, the Association comprised seven branches. By 1920 there were twenty branches, and Snelgrove moved to place the Association on a more representative and efficient footing. The rules were re-drawn and the branches were placed into five Divisions: Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western and Central. This worked well for a number of years. The membership continued to grow and other Divisions were formed, starting with the North-Eastern Division. We were fortunate in having the great Thomas W. Cowan as President between 1914 and 1926 and Snelgrove himself was President from then until his death in 1965.
During the late 1940s there were over 1,600 members in eleven Divisions, but since then, mostly in line with national trends, there has been a gradual decline . In the mid-1970s, resulting from the Maude report and the creation of the County of Avon, an amicable split occurred, the three Divisions within this new county forming their own Association. This reduced our membership considerably. Even so, by the 1990s there were just below 500 members in thirteen Divisions, the most thriving branches having secured divisional status. In the interests of efficiency Council took steps to reduce this number, but there was much resistance to this. The current number is twelve, varying greatly in size, degree of activity and with a considerable geographical overlap.
Fewer people keep bees these days, but Somerset Beekeepers’ Association has had a growing membership for several years and currently stands at over 800. This success is attributed to a strong team of officers with their own specialist areas of expertise, such as education, examinations, communication, fund-raising and gift aid. These officers constantly promote the craft, attending various events such as shows, organizing beekeeping demonstrations, classes at various levels to assist beekeepers in their management techniques. This constant drive not only encourages people to take up the craft, but brings in new members and encourages them to remain so, thus fulfilling the Association’s constitutional objectives “to advance the craft of apiculture and to promote and foster the education of its members, and of the public.”
Click on the officer position title to contact the officer
President - Mr. Ken Tredgett
Vice-Chairman - Post vacant
Secretary - Dr. Richard Bache
Treasurer - Christina Kennedy
BBKA Delegate - Dr. Richard Bache
Bee Diagnostic Officer - Simon Jones
Education Officer - Post vacant, but mail will be forwarded
Examinations Secretary - Bridget Knutson
Newsletter Editor - Elizabeth Friend
Special Funding Officer - Ken Edwards
Year Book Editor - Bridget Knutson
Webmaster - Jonathan Friend