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.
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 www.edinburghbeekeepers.org.uk
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 www.scottishbeekeepers.org.uk