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George Birks: Eighty Years of Beekeeping : 31 EIGHTY YEARS OF BEEKEEPING

George Birks

Chris Coulson (Chairman, Beverley Beekeepers’ Association)

Burgoyne Hotel, Reeth, Swaledale, when a group of beekeepers met for lunch to recognise the beekeeping life of George Birks.


George remembers helping look after two hives in the late 1920s and attending a talk by the famous William Herrod- Hempstall in Stockton-on- Tees in 1929. Joining the Boy Scouts in 1933, he obtained his Beemaster’s badge. Sadly now such beekeeping badges seem to have disappeared.

The Midland Bank and Bees

His first job as a junior clerk in 1938 with the, then, Midland Bank at Cottingham, Hull, started him off on both his banking and beekeeping career as in that year, he also joined

n 28 May, a happy occasion took place at the

The Beverley Beekeepers’ Association. The war then intervened but after ‘demob’ he became a Yorkshire Delegate and, around this time, was organising the movement of some 80 hives to the heather moors in North Yorkshire. This was not without occasional incidents! As Secretary to the Yorkshire Recruitment Committee (1949), a Beverley BKA Committee Member (1950) and organiser of the 1953 (Coronation) Hull Honey Show, George was making his presence felt in the beekeeping world. 1953 saw him as Treasurer of Beverley BKA and a member of Cottingham BKA. In 1962, he became both Treasure of Yorkshire BKA as well as an Honorary Member of Yorkshire, though his banking career had sent him temporarily to Alnwick, in Northumberland, in between.

Back in the Hull area, he

(left to right) Barbara Birks, Rev James Crossley, Chris Coulson, Brian Latham, George Birks (seated), Peter Schollick, Moreen Dale, Tony Dale

became Vice Chairman of Beverley BKA (1967–1969) and Chairman (1969–1971). During this time, he gained his Practical Beekeeping Certificate His move to the bank in

Boroughbridge started his association with Harrogate and Ripon BKA, of which he became Chairman. Unfortunately, around this time, his bees were visited twice by the dark force of American foul brood. The memory of his hives being burned still affects him. In 1977, he became an Honorary Member of Beverley BKA and, following his move to Arkengathdale, Chairman of Richmond and District BKA in the 1980s.

Retirement from Active Beekeeping

Eventually age, and no doubt ‘beekeeper’s knees and back’, forced him to give up active beekeeping on his own although he still retains a keen interest in the craft and is a repository of its history in the area.

August 2013 Vol 95 No 8

Beekeeping Friends and Colleagues

The lunch, kindly paid for by George, was attended by Chris Coulson, Chairman of Beverley BKA, who spoke of George’s long involvement with beekeeping and presented his British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) certificate to mark 80 years of beekeeping. Peter Schollick, President of Richmond and District BKA, spoke of Geroge’s beekeeping involvement in the North Yorkshire area and their own long personal friendship. Brian Latham, Secretary of

Yorkshire BKA, thanked George for his past work in the county and explained the background to the BBKA long-service certificates while Tony Dale reminisced about teenage beekeeping under George’s eagle eye. We wish him well and salute him for his long and valuable input into beekeeping in the north of England. ¤

Niall Kearney

Chris Coulson

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