- The Council called me at 11am on 14 February and I passed on the offer to a meeting of NHBKA the same evening. Call me ‘Lighting’ but the project was not a ‘fait accompli’ after eight hours. The offer however was derided instantly by the Treasurer: ‘Ridiculous to put bees on allotments; you will not get any money from me’. The outright rejection was based seemingly only on prejudice (allotments are gardens for the common man) – the site had not been visited and there was no discussion. Normally, an association would jump at such an offer and set up a branch apiary run by an Apiary Manager who would be a member of the Committee.
- One week later, I sent the Committee a ‘Preliminary Outline Proposal’ to illustrate how the site could be developed through a working group – nothing had then been agreed with the Council. Frank was the only member to visit the site and provide useful comment. The Committee’s decision – ‘it would have to be a separate organization, financed apart’ was clearly reported in April Herts Bees. It is true that I went along with the decision – looking around the room it was obvious that the Committee lacked the will to make an effort. Rather than see the site turned down, I was left taking the tenancy myself and getting the first grant to reclaim the former rubbish dump.
The allegation that allotments are not safe for bees is not worth discussing. BBKA has no objection - nor has the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners. It is quite normal to find hives on allotments, with no trouble. However, beekeepers who do not keep bees quietly had probably better stick to using the large private gardens they are fortunate to enjoy.
The need to establish a new organization was unexpected as the Bee Centre aims to do nothing that other branch apiaries already do – only to do it all in the most up-to-date way. Dartington hives are an example – the long box is the result of butting two deep Nationals together and so is only a modern version of the National hive that is easier to manage. The honeyboxes are only half-length National supers whose reduced weight respects the softer backs of today’s beginner beekeepers. People have come from Cornwall and Wales to try the hive in my apiary – pity that shorter trips within Herts are less common.
Frank regrets there will be a new beekeeping organization offering choice to beginners. It was the Committee’s own decision.