The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) was founded in 1874....
...bringing together some 26 county beekeeping associations, not to replicate their work, but to be in a stronger position to represent their interests at government level and to facilitate a nationwide educational structure supported by a common examination process.
The identification and treatment of diseases, parasites and infections has also been central to the BBKA’s initiatives to foster best practice in bee husbandry. This caused some friction between those advocating more effective government control over foulbrood diseases and those opposed to government "interference".
During the two World Wars, the BBKA was successful in persuading government to grant extra sugar rations to beekeepers, as honey was recognised to be an important foodstuff. This in turn stimulated public interest in beekeeping and, in 1970, there were 32,000 beekeepers in England and Wales. This success to some extent masked some serious divisions between the BBKA's senior officers and its member Associations, which were not resolved until a new Constitution (not unlike our present one) was adopted in 1960.
The year 1990 marked the arrival of the parasitic varroa mite in England. It took several years to develop treatments to control these infestations and, in the meantime, many beekeepers gave up in despair and the number of beekeepers dropped to around 10,000.
In 1992, the National Beekeeping Centre was built at Stoneleigh, which gave more focus to the BBKA's activities and, in 2008, the BBKA launched a political campaign to persuade the government not to cut its inspection and research facilities and to assemble a £10 million fund for research projects identified as crucial by an advisory group assembled by the BBKA.
This caught the interest of the media, which then started publishing general interest articles and broadcasting programmes about bees and honey bees in particular. Public interest in beekeeping was awakened and, supported by BBKA-led initiatives, beekeeping membership of the BBKA doubled to 20,000 by 2010.
Educating and training all these new beekeepers is a challenge and the BBKA has initiated a wide range of programmes to support its member associations in this endeavour.
For more information, see BBKA - The History