PEEBLESSHIRE BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION
Established 1919 .
Membership of the Peeblesshire Beekeepers Association costs £10.00 per year, and is open to all who are interested in bees and beekeeping.
A series of winter lectures and summer apiary visits are arranged for members.
The association also provides many other benefits for members including training courses, equipment hire, and discount bulk purchasing.
The Association is affiliated to the Scottish Beekeepers Association
Membership costs £10.00 per year.
We arrange a program of winter lectures and summer apiary visits.
Winter lectures are held at the Community Centre Peebles. Look out for notices about upcoming meetings on on this site.
We run beginners classes most years. Beginners can work with bees at our apiary under supervision of a mentor.
We also arrange a variety of specialist courses, often hosted at our own apiary.
We have our own apiary where we host visits, practical demonstrations and training courses.
Other services for members
We have honey extraction and other equipment available for hire, can organise bulk purchases at discount, and arrange training courses.
Beekeeping in Peeblesshire
The Peebles Beekeeping Association started up in August 1919. Beekeeping was already well-established in the area, and even recorded in literature, as Walter Scott’s “Black Dwarf” – based on David Ritchie of Manor – mentions “Elshie” in his cottage garden with his beehives. A photograph of around 1910 shows “Peebles Beekeepers and their Assistants” – a summer picnic with big hats and long dresses for the ladies, boaters and flannels for the gentlemen.
In 1904, “Isle of Wight Disease” was first seen in the south of England and it spread rapidly, destroying bee colonies throughout the UK, with some areas losing up to 95% of their colonies. Government action to help limit its effect included funding the East of Scotland College of Agriculture, which appointed lecturers (to teach and improve beekeeping standards) and created an apiary which produced replacement bees for members of local Associations.
Type of beekeeping
Local beekeeping is relatively small scale, which results in a very high quality product. The majority of members maintain less than 10 colonies; a few have up to 20 hives, but there are no commercial beekeepers (ie with 100 or more hives) in the area as far as we’re aware.
Migratory beekeeping is practised by only a few beekeepers – in our area it mainly consists of taking hives to the moors for the heather honey.
Most agriculture on the area is based on sheep and cattle: there are few fields of rape and no large-scale fruit-farming in the immediate area, so there is relatively little spraying of agricultural insecticides. This means that the bees will be collecting most of their nectar from wild flowers and trees, and that this area probably has very low levels of contamination by agricultural chemicals or pollution.
We know that many farms and cottages had a couple of skeps in the garden – centuries ago honey was virtually the only sweetener. However there are few surviving traces of this – one example is the bee boles (to hold straw skeps) in the churchyard wall at West Linton. There are probably more examples to be discovered.
The museum at St Ronan’s Wells, Innerleithen has a beekeeping display featuring Willie Smith of Innerleithen, one of many pioneering and well-known beekeepers from this area.
Famous local beekeepers
Willie Smith of Innerleithen
Jim Bogle of Peebles
John & Morna Stoakley of Stobo & Peebles