History 1958-1982

The next 25 years were very busy, with full programmes of lectures and apiary visits, annual outings and honey shows. The branch bought sugar and jars at discounted prices for members, and membership fluctuated between 60 and 100.

A branch newsletter was edited by Mr Allen and adverts from members accepted for a charge of 2/-. In 1959 a ‘gift’ class was introduced into the honey show schedule with jars being donated to the Sunshine Home for Blind Babies in Leamington. This class attracted 74 entries in the first year, despite a very poor honey year. Thanks to an increase in the Foster Bequest, prize money for the honey show increased to 10/-, 7/6, 5/- and 3/6. (Prizes were phased out in 1970 due to lack of money.)

Annual Field Days were held each summer, regularly attracting between 70 and 100 people, from other branches and the general public. Venues included Cherry Orchard Brickyard Kenilworth, Stoneleigh Park and Campion High School, Leamington where the school meals service was asked to provide refreshments thanks to Mrs Wilshire.

Meetings were held at an apiary in Mrs Margetts’ garden, The Butts in Warwick. In 1961 the branch investigated a new site to re-build the branch apiary, at Barford Hill, and there was support from the committee to invest branch funds in trying out different types of hive, and putting up a shed “for use by members and for refreshment”. Mr Quirke offered to supply new equipment at cost and Mr Forrest offered a 4-comb nuc. Five years later, the branch hive “had fallen to pieces” and the bees were donated to a new member at Hatton.

Foul Brood was being reported in the county, and in 1963 the Foul Brood Officer planned to visit all branch members. Three years later there was an outbreak at Old Milverton and all hives within a three-mile radius were inspected.

There was no support to join a ‘new combs for old’ scheme, a decision felt to be justified when Leicestershire Beekeepers reported difficulty over payments. However, the branch did support the Stoneleigh Bee Garden and sent a £10 donation.

In the early 70s, the branch went through one of its periodic financial difficulties, and considered asking members to donate honey to raise money instead of increasing the subscription. There was growing support to invest in a branch apiary as a future source of income from honey sales. There were 10-15 novices at the beginners meetings in 1972 which then continued for several years.

There was much discussion about knowing the location of all apiaries to control the spread of disease, and concern about agricultural sprays. The branch also joined the campaign for honey to be labelled with its country of origin.

An acacia, lime and Indian horse chestnut were chosen as good forage plants for ‘Plant a Tree in 73’, and a ceremony held in Jephson Gardens in memory of Harry Allen. The branch organised a display at Warwick Museum to mark the centenary of the British Beekeepers Association in 1974. Eight years later, the Museum decided to create a ‘bee corner’ and an observation hive was set up there.

In 1981 Miss Lillian Bunn offered £100 towards a memorial to her father, Harry Bunn, a beekeeper and supplier of beekeeping equipment based in Blackdown. It was suggested that a teaching apiary for beginners be established and eventually a site was found at Moreton Morrell College (or Mid-Warwickshire College of Further Education as it was known) to be managed by Mr J Adams. The college planted a row of hornbeam around the site. Despite initial problems with bad-tempered bees, a series of beginners evenings was a great success and 35lbs of honey were harvested in the first season.

The branch marked its Golden Jubilee with exhibitions at Leamington Spa Building Society and Warwick Museum and held a celebratory Duck Supper on the farm owned by the landlord of the Blacksmith’s Arms, Ryton on Dunsmore.