History of Sutton Coldfield Branch
Sutton Coldfield and North Birmingham Branch, Warwickshire Bee Keepers Association (WBKA).
In 1879, an inaugural meeting of beekeepers at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham formed the Midland Counties Beekeepers Association.
In 1880, when the BBKA (founded 1874) wanted to charge 3 guineas as an affiliation fee (since the association represented 3 counties), the name was changed to Warwickshire Beekeepers Association so that the affiliation fee would only be 1 guinea. The association employed an expert to visit and advise members and the purpose of the WBKA was to encourage beekeepers to join and to promote the use of “movable comb hives” rather than skeps.
In 1893, it was suggested that the county be divided into districts, but it was not until 1929 that suitable rules were drawn up and in May 1931, the Sutton Coldfield Branch was established. Soon afterwards, a Councillor Mrs Lowe held a tea party in her garden at which 250 people sat down for tea. In 1934, Sutton Coldfield organised a joint meeting with the Apis Club to which over 250 people attended.
When the Birmingham and District branch joined WBKA in 1934 Sutton Coldfield changed its name to Sutton Coldfield and North Birmingham Branch.
After World War 2 the branch had an apiary behind a house on the Clifton Road. When the house was re-developed, the branch established a new apiary at its present location in Sutton Park. A special meeting was held in 1964 at the inauguration of a new bee-house.
On 26th April 2014 a 50th anniversary meeting was held and framed certificates signed by those who attended each meeting are displayed in the bee-house.
“The objects of the Association shall be to promote and further the craft of Beekeeping and also to advance the education of the public in the importance of Bees in the Environment”, (WBKA, Rule2). To this end, the Apiary is primarily a Teaching Resource for new beekeepers (as well as a source of income from the honey produced). The branch has also held several w/e meetings in the past. In 1995 a skep making weekend was held at the apiary for branch and county members and many older beekeepers are still using the skeps they started that weekend.
Also from 1997 to 2007 we held weekend ‘Biennial’ meetings which were attended by beekeepers from the branch, county and beyond, with national speakers organised by Ruby Smith and Bernard Diaper.
In common with the rest of the UK, membership declined steadily until about 2000 when national concern about the decline of pollinating insects revived an interest in bee keeping.