Fun day celebrates 100 years of Portsmouth and District Bee Keepers Association

BEE keepers united for a fun day to celebrate the centenary of a much-loved city educational group.

Sunday, 20th May 2018, 10:40 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:37 am
Members of the PDBKA celebrate their fun day and centenary. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Members of the Portsmouth and District Bee Keeping Association (PDBKA) gathered at the Portchester Parish Centre on Saturday.

They welcomed the public as they revelled in the successes of the group’s past 100 years – while sharing expertise and informing visitors of the ‘massive importance’ of pollinators in a changing natural environment.

The fixture – which also tied in with PDBKA recently recruiting its 100th member – was attended by bee keepers from across The News’ patch.

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Members of the PDBKA celebrate their fun day and centenary. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Avril Tillman, who serves on the PDBKA committee, organised the event.

She said: ‘Soon after I joined the association I realised our birthday was coming up and I knew we had to do something about it.

‘This is as much about celebrating what we have done over the past 100 years as it is about looking forward and tackling the issues that we currently face.

‘Particularly in terms of climate change, a lot has happened in the past 100 years and we’re finding there are no longer any wild colonies of bees.

‘That’s why it’s so important to do our job of highlighting the necessity of bees and other pollinators in the modern day.’

Throughout the fun day, which lasted from 10am-4pm, keepers were on-hand to sell honey-related goods produced by their own colonies and share their knowledge in a bid to encourage a new wave of members to be inspired.

One of them was Wendy Gilbert, who after becoming a keeper three years ago, finds herself as the PDBKA secretary.

Reflecting on her love for the association and bee keeping, she said: ‘It’s been on my bucket list – my brother tried it up in Yorkshire, so I thought if he can do it I can do it better than him.

‘The more I learned about bees, I discovered they are just incredible creatures.

‘I got hooked, I’m still learning and the people at PDBKA are just fantastic.’

With an small hive set up outside the parish hall, keeper Geoff Piper spent the afternoon attempting to dispell the common fear of bees – by giving visitors a chance to get up close to them.

He said: ‘Silly films about killer bees can tarnish the reputation of the bees in our country – but I can tend to mine without wearing gloves or a veil.

‘It’s all about learning their temperament.

‘Anyone who would like to learn more about bees or even get over a fear can come and visit our apiary at the East Meon Sustainability Centre, and they can handle them and see they’re quite friendly.’

To learn more about the Portsmouth and District Bee Keeping Association, visit portsmouthbeekeepers.co.uk