At the Scottish Beekeepers’ Association dinner last night: Left to Right - Mr George Braithwaite, Barnhill; Mr William Smith, Innerleithen, Peebles; and Mr and Mrs Anderson, Newport. The photograph is from a newspaper clipping dated Saturday December 13, 1947 which shows Willies Smith, who produced the Smith hive, popular in Scotland. The young man George Braithwaite worked with Willie for some months to learn about beekeeping. The clipping was lent by June Braithwaite who is an ESBA Honorary Vice President. HISTORY OF THE ESBA Notes from “Beekeeping in August Last Century” a talk delivered at the Annual Meeting of the East of Scotland Beekeepers’ Association held at Dundee on 16 March 1940 by Rev. John Beveridge. For many centuries, indeed from time immemorial, bee hives were as general adjuncts to a cottage or country house as a potato patch was, and every peasant knew all about the production of honey with the straw skeps that were then almost universal. A change came about in 1829 when Miss Clementina Stirling Graham of Duntrune translated a study work by Swiss scientist Jonas de Gelier entitled "The Bee Preserver". She encouraged all the cottagers on the estate and in the district to stop killing the bees in the autumn in order to get their honey; for it was easy to secure the honey and yet preserve the bees. She was amiable, accomplished, witty and she was the last representative of the family Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee. Miss Graham was one of the originators of the ESBA in 1876.
In September 1874 a great honey show was organised to call attention to the beekeeping industry; this was held in the Crystal Palace, London. A. Ferguson from Stewarton and William Sword from Falkirk, had enlisted the assistance of other six bee men and undertook to take their exhibits to London for the show. These Scots entries swept the board, the success of the exhibits created a great sensation also in Scotland. The Scots bee men realised, for the first time, what a valuable article they possessed in almost unlimited quantity. Within a month of the triumphant return from London of these pioneer exhibitors a National Scottish Association was formed with the ponderous name of the "Caledonian Entomological and Apiarian Society."
This Caledonian E & A Society proposed to hold a show in Dundee in 1876 at the international Horticultural Association meeting. Miss Graham and other Angus beekeepers resolved to form ESBA on 16 January at the Lamb's Hotel, Dundee. They undertook to organising a Show of Honey and Appliances in the Dundee Artillery Hall and by the time the show was held in September the membership had passed 100 and later rose to 150 members.
The object of the association were to encourage the pursuit of bee culture according to the most humane and profitable methods, by diffusing practicable and by public exhibitions of bee products and appliance; to secure advantages for its members in the purchase of hives and other furniture; to assist in the disposal of surplus honey; and to encourage the formation of branch associations.
The beekeeping section of the exhibition in 1876 was such an attraction the the Dundee Horticultural Association offered £20 of prize money if the ESBA would hold a show annually in connection with their Flower and Fruit Exhibition. The ESBA continued to spread a knowledge of modern methods of beekeeping far and wide; and at long last the practice of killing the bees in order to get their honey disappeared. Some members of the Association offered to drive bees from the skep saved nearly seventy lots of bees from destruction one autumn. The cheapness of Robert Steele's cottage hive made it easy for a man to abandon skeps for wooden hives. The classes that appealed to skeppists were gradually dropped from the show schedules and year by year new classes were introduced.
In 1912 the three associations, Midlothian, East of Scotland and Perthshire led the way in the formation of the Scottish Beekeepers' Association. Angus representatives have had a foremost place to share in their efforts and success.