One Hundred Years of Beekeeping in Edinburgh

Varroa mites on a honey bee

This year beekeepers in Edinburgh are marking the Centenary of the Edinburgh Beekeepers Association. To celebrate, Edinburgh City Libraries are hosting an exhibition about Bees, Beekeeping and Edinburgh Beekeepers and will be running a series of talks and honey tasting sessions across the city from April until December. In addition, candle-making sessions will be available for children.

Although people in Edinburgh have kept bees for many years it was not until December 1918 that they came together to form the Edinburgh & District Beekeepers Association. Local Association meetings provided a time for discussion and learning, whether at the winter lectures or summer apiary outings.  In 1928, Edinburgh & District Beekeepers Association merged with the longer established Midlothian Beekeepers to form Edinburgh and Midlothian Beekeepers Association (EMBA) which continues to thrive today. EMBA has almost 200 members who have between 1 and 30 colonies of bees. Overall in Scotland, there are about 3,000 hobby beekeepers.

John Moir, a founder member of the Edinburgh Beekeepers Association, was not only an enthusiastic beekeeper, but also a prestigious collector of books on the topic and his collection is now housed in Fountainbridge Library with the rare items being held in the National Library of Scotland.

A century ago there were more than a million hives in the UK – today there are about 100,000 non-commercial hives. But we need more if we are to stop the honey bee’s decline. Our native bees are more endangered now than 100 years ago. They face threats from bees imported from abroad, from parasitic mites, and potentially from Asian Hornets. Increased use of pesticides in agriculture and loss of habitat also threaten our bees.

EMBA Apiary

If you want to find out more about bees and beekeeping, and what we can do to encourage bees, then why not visit our exhibition which is currently in the foyer of Central Library, George IV Bridge. In May it will move to Blackhall Library then to Stockbridge, Newington, Leith, Currie, Colinton, Corstorphine or Drumbrae, and Portobello before returning to the Central Library in December. At each Library there will be talks, honey tasting and candle making sessions organised. Details will be available via each library.

For more information about EMBA and beekeeping locally visit

EMBA is also affiliated to the Scottish Beekeepers Association (SBA) which is the national honeybee and beekeeping charity for Scotland. Details can be found at








Macmillan@Edinburgh Libraries – now at Drumbrae Library too!

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve expanded the Macmillan Cancer Support Service to Drumbrae Library Hub.

Macmillan Cancer Support Service Point at Drumbrae Library Hub

The free service provides information, support and signposting to people affected by cancer in Edinburgh. Trained volunteers are on hand to offer a listening ear and help people access Macmillan information material, resources and support services.

The service is now available at three libraries across Edinburgh:

Central Library                   Tuesday 3 – 5pm and Friday 1pm – 3pm

Craigmillar Library            Monday 1pm – 4pm and Thursday 11am – 1pm

Drumbrae Library             Thursday midday – 2.30pm and Saturday 11am – 1pm.

For further information please contact or telephone 0131 242 8125.

The story of Edinburgh Libraries. Part 3 of 3

From one public library in 1890 there are now 28 branches across the city each providing an important service to the community. As well as providing access to information, libraries soon became places to gather and attend events.

Edinburgh’s newest libraries at Drumbrae and Craigmillar have developed this idea with the library housed in a community hub where members of the community can also access other council services.


Drumbrae Library Hub

Craigmillar Library

East Neighbourhood Centre and Craigmillar Library

There’s always been more to the library than books on shelves. In Edinburgh, libraries have played host to some great events and celebrations over the years.  The recent development of Edinburgh Reads has seen numerous author events take place across the city.

Story hour at McDonald Road Library

Story hour at McDonald Road Library, 1962



Ian Rankin and Jeffery Deaver at an Edinburgh Reads event

On opening the library’s catalogue was listed in books. Technology has come a long way since then.  Computerisation came in 1974 when Central Fiction began lending through an offline system. Public internet access was introduced in 1998 and now all libraries have WiFi. Readers can also access services through a mobile app and a growing collection of electronic resources and e-books are accessible online and through mobile devices.

Public access internet launch in Central Library

Public access internet launch in Central Library

Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh

Brodie’s Close, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh. Reproduction of Bruce J. Home pencil drawing from ‘Old Houses in Edinburgh’. One of the many treasures you can find on Capital Collections.

Over the years, a number of donations have helped shape the special collections held by Edinburgh Libraries. Particular highlights of this collection include the Henry Dyer Collection of Japanese woodblock prints, woodblock printed volumes and painted scrolls; the personal items bequeathed by Charles Boog Watson. Robert Butchart and Thomas Ross as well as an extensive collection of early photography documenting Victorian Edinburgh.

Many of these items form the backbone of Capital Collections, our online image database.

Find out how much you know about Edinburgh Libraries with this quick, fun quiz

masthead quiz


Employment Fair at Drumbrae Library Hub

Drumbrae employabilityAre you looking for a new job or want to learn something new?  Are you thinking about volunteering but not sure where to start?  Think you are lacking in skills to get your foot in the door?

Drumbrae Library Hub will host an employment fair on Tuesday 3rd March aimed at those looking for work, wanting to improve their skill set or seeking advice on volunteering opportunities.

Attending will be representatives from a number of organisations who will be able to advise about benefits and offer support in job search, training and learning opportunities in South West Edinburgh.

The event begins at 10.30am and runs until 1.30pm.  Drumbrae Library Hub is served by Lothian Buses 1, 21 and 26.

Clermiston at 60

2014 marks the community of Clermiston’s 60th anniversary. Once grazing land and the farmlands of Buttercup Farm, the area became a thriving residential area in the 1950s.

At the celebrations to mark St Andrew’s Clermiston’s silver jubilee, Rev. Dr. Ross Mackenzie remembered the beginnings of the church and its community:

Rev. Dr. Ross Mackenzie on his rounds

Rev. Dr. Ross Mackenzie on his rounds

‘In the autumn of 1954 the first congregations walked through mud and dust by new or half-built houses to worship in the wooden hut of Clermiston Parish Church…’

He remarked on the enormous change that had occurred worldwide in the fifties, and how the five years between 1954 and 1959 were particularly remarkable and hectic for the early residents of Clermiston:

‘… a small community of dozens became scores and then hundreds, a wooden hut without water or electricity became in a true sense home to congregations, political parties, garden club, drama club, Saturday film club, health centre, whist centre, and anything else it needed to be to those who used it….

After World War II enormous new towns and communities spread rapidly over the countryside, when people, more than a million of them in the end were moved from the centre of the cities and large towns of Britain. But this was our town, our time, and our place.’

The residents of Clermiston and Drumbrae are marking their neighbourhood’s 60th anniversary with a celebratory event on 28th September at St Andrew’s Church which kicks off a series of local events throughout October. Pictures from our Capital Collections exhibition are on display in Drumbrae Library Hub and the Library are inviting community donations of photographs and memories to help their local history archive grow. Keep an eye on Drumbrae Library Hub’s facebook page for upcoming events.

Minecraft at Drumbrae Library

Minecraft at DrumbraeAnyone who has visited Drumbrae Library recently may have noticed that everyone seems to see the world in 8-bit.  The phenomenon that is Minecraft has taken the library by storm.

So what it is Minecraft? Basically it is a sandbox type of game. Imagine a world made out of small square blocks similar to Lego. It can be played like a survival game where the player must collect and mine resources in order to build things and survive.

There is also a creative mode: and this is where things really get interesting.  In this mode the world of Minecraft is completely open to you and you can build whatever you like using the blocks that are available in the game.  There are enthusiasts out there who have built everything from Lord of the Rings fantasy worlds to rollercoasters.  There are even a number of 8-bit libraries out there

Recognising that it was something that a lot of young people were already talking about Matt Ferguson, Team Leader at Drumbrae Library, has been using Minecraft in innovative ways to engage with young people.

“Im interested in how we can advocate games in libraries and use them as a tool of engagement.  As it is about creating things and they were already talking about it, we were keen to tap into that.

We took it further by incorporating it into activities we were doing with Comic Life and in video production.  They would make short videos explaining what mine craft is and why they enjoy it.  In doing this they had to plan how the films would be, they’d write up questions and create a structure. In doing all this they are developing their communication and literacy skills. Maybe they become more engaged now that it’s  based around something they enjoy.”

Matt points out that the success has led to a continuing demand and the group is expanding and as more and more kids sign up.  Reece Crosby, one of the participants, has been taking part for around a year.  He tells us: “It’s pretty sociable game and you can hang out and chat with your friends in a good environment as you play the game.  We’ve been making a little movie within the game about an adventurer who goes into a temple and is confronted by zombies.  The game is very creative, we all make our own skins, play separate parts and also perform the dialogue. We’ve been learning about Minecraft and computers but it’s also been good for learning to write scripts and working together.”

Six authors in six libraries: it’s Book Week Scotland

We’re celebrating Book Week Scotland with the help of some very special guests. Book now for the following events:

Alex Gray – Glasgow Queen of Crime!
DI Lorimer is up against the freezing weather and a double serial murder.
Mon 26 November, 6.30-7.45pm at Muirhouse Library. To book call 0131 529 5528 or email

Ken McClure – Medical Man.
Ken talks about his recent writing and bestselling medical thrillers including ‘Lost Causes’ (June 2011)
Mon 26 November, 6.30-7.45pm at Craigmillar Library. To book call 0131 529 5597 or email

Doug Johnstone – ‘Hit and Run’
Local writer, musician and journalist, Doug Johnstone talks about his latest book ‘Hit and Run’.
Mon 26 November, 6.30-745pm at Newington Library. To book call 0131 529 5536 or email

Denise Mina – the End of the Wasp Season
Author of the Garnethill trilogy, Glasgow crime writer and playwright Denise Mina talks about her new book ‘The End of the Wasp Season’ and her writing career.
Mon 26 November, 6.30-7.45pm at Drumbrae Library. To book call 0131 529 5244 or email

Margaret Bennett – Folklore and Scottish Song
A folksinger and scholar of great sensitivity and versatility, and a ‘major figure of the modern Scottish revival, Margaret embodies all that is best of the spirit of Scotland’. (Hamish Henderson)
Fri 30 November, 10-12am at Oxgangs Library. To book call 0131 529 5549 or email oxgangs.library

Anne Donovan
Prize-winning short story writer and novelist, Anne Donovan’s debut novel Buddha Da was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.
Thurs 29 November, 2.30-3.30pm at McDonald Road Library. To book call 0131 529 5636 or email mcdonaldroad.library@edinburgh.