Middx Federation Centenary 1983

The "Middlesex County Beekeepers' Association" was founded in 1883 and that organisation was the origin of the Middlesex Federation of Beekeepers Associations which dates from 1965 in the present form.


The Federation celebrated the centenary of foundation in 1983 and produced a booklet with some historical detail of the member organisations. A scanned copy of the booklet is available and also a smaller, searchable text version.

In the years after the BBKA was founded in 1874 there were many disputes about how to organise nationally. It was becoming apparent that a central organisation was too unwieldy and there was lobbying to establish "county" associations which would become members of the BBKA. With many of the previous centralists living around London, other counties were quicker to organise. It was not until 1883 that the Middx County Assoctiation was founded after a meeting at "The Feathers" pub (now the Metro Bank) in Ealing.

In the early years the Middx County Association was divided in "Provinces", later "Branches" or "Districts". Individual associations were founded and became "Affiliated Associations" alongside direct members. Various attempts at reorganisation were attempted over the years with consequent boundary disputes until the present structure as a federation was adopted in 1965 with the change of name and no direct members.

The general pattern of beekeeping in the county is a growing interest in the technical development of beekeeping and increasing amateur involvement from the later 1800s. Beekeeping organisation grew between the world wars with the expansion of suburbs and peaked during and just after the second world war until sugar rationing ended. There was a decline in beekeeper numbers from the 1950s to the end of the century, not helped by the arrival of varroa in the 1990s. From a low around 2001, interest in beekeeping has increased and membership numbers have risen.

Many of the long established Beekeeping Supply companies were still trading in the 1980s but did not survive to see the upturn in interest in the next century. The suppliers at the time are reflected in the advertising in the Centenary booklet. Our "Middlesex" based supplier for instance, Robert Lee in Uxbridge, could trace a history back to 1862 and had traded for most of the 20th Century on a site where Debenhams now stands. Before Middx centenary year they had moved to nearby Cowley after the redevelopment of Uxbridge town centre. By the mid 1980s many bee business names were struggling to survive and gave way to a series of amalgamations. The remaining Robert Lee business was transferred to Hampshire, then taken over by Steele and Brodie (another advertiser in 1983, founded in 1875) who were themselves folded into Thornes after closing their Scottish works in 1998. Likewise another advertiser - E H Taylor of Welwyn, founded 1880, were once the largest supplier in England but taken over by Thornes in 1984.

  • 1485 Earliest known written record of beekeeping in Middlesex; Sion College buys 12 hives at 3d each.
  • 1874 British beekeeping Association founded.
  • 1883 Middlesex County Beekeepers Association founded and noted in British Bee Journal.
  • 1886 Middx Members mount exhibition of 9 cwt of honey at Indian and Colonial Exhibition, South Kensington.
  • 1901 Grant of £100 from Middlesex County Council Education Department for apicultural training.
  • 1911 Barnet Beekeepers founded, initially independent, affiliated to Hertfordshire in 1997, joined Middx in 2011.
  • 1919 Harrow Beekeepers Association founded, some records suggest 1924.
  • 1928 Pinner BKA founded.
  • 1935 North West Association founded by members of Pinner Association.
  • 1941 Uxbridge Association also founded by members of Pinner.
  • 1942 The Foul Brood order requires destruction of hives with AFB or EFB.
  • 1942 An estimated 36% of Middx hives infested with acarine mites.
  • 1943 Ealing Association founded.
  • 1945 "Forager" journal founded, by 1980s circulated to all Middx members.
  • 1946 C B Dennis organises treatment of all county stocks for acarine, including Twickenham and Wood Green, a total of 3,500 colonies. Acarine campaign taken further afield, as far away as Kings Lynn.
  • 1946 Wembley Association founded with the transfer of 60 Harrow members and one third of their funds.
  • 1949 Peak Middx membership of 1,560 in nine associations Ealing, Enfield, Harrow, North West, Pinner, Ruislip, South West, Uxbridge and Wembley
  • 1950 First Middx "Beekeeping Weekend" at Northwood, held annually until 1975.
  • 1951 National Honey Show recognised as "our" County Honey Show.
  • 1954 Pinner and Ruislip Associations amalgamate, Ruislip had been founded during the war years but numbers declining.
  • 1965 Federation structure adopted as organ of local co-operation and communications channel to BBKA and National Honey Show.
  • 1969 South West Association folds, most remaining members join Twickenham and Thames Valley.
  • 1970 Current Harrow apiary established at Hatch End.
  • 1973 Current Ealing apiary established at Stockdove Way.
  • 1975 Enfield leave the Federation to be independent
  • c1983 Uxbridge association folds, some remaining members join P&R.
  • c1983 Wembley association amalgamates with Harrow
  • c1990 North West changes name to North London BKA.
  • c2000 Enfield rejoin Middx Federation.
  • 2001 Low point in national BBKA membership at under 9,000.
  • 2011 Barnet join Middx Federation from Hertfordshire.
  • 2013 Middlesex records 624 beekeeping members in six associations - Barnet, Ealing, Enfield, Harrow, North London, Pinner&Ruislip. The numbers per county are from the BBKA Education report. BBKA membership has grown to over 24 thousand nationally, there are additional beekeepers in the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Associations as well as some English associations not affiliated. There are also non member beekeepers and the Bee Farmers who have their own association.

The above time listing is based on various accounts in the Centenary booklet, some dates may be as recalled after the event.  Much of the later information is either based on BBKA and other association notes or individual recollection. If anyone has firm dates for these or other events, or dates when current Middx association apiaries or the club house was established please get in touch.