Bee Craft beginnings
The story begins in 1919, when Kent Beekeepers’ Association launched ‘Bee Craft’ as a county beekeeping journal. Surrey joined in 1921 and by 1928 thirteen Associations, including Yorkshire with the largest membership, had come in one by one. By 1948 the journal had achieved a considerable circulation in many parts of UK and beyond. It had in fact become a national rather than local journal and it was felt that control should pass to a more representative body. The time was ripe for this after the British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) had adopted ‘Bee Craft’ as its official journal in January 1947. Arrangements were made by creating a limited liability company, Bee Craft Ltd, to acquire the business of publishing the journal from Kent Beekeepers’ Association.
In January 1949 the share capital of the company was £6,000 divided into 6,000 shares of £1 each. These shares were subscribed for by Kent Beekeepers’ Association by payment of £6,000 to Bee Craft Ltd, but as soon as Bee Craft Ltd received the money it paid it back to Kent Beekeepers’ Association in return for the goodwill of the business. The position was then that Bee Craft Ltd owned a publishing business and Kent Beekeepers’ Association owned 6,000 fully paid shares in the company. Kent then gave away most of the shares to other county and district associations that were affiliated to BBKA. The basis of allocation was in proportion to the support the Associations gave to the journal. Kent also made a generous gift and loan to Bee Craft Ltd as working capital to put the enterprise on its feet. Government legislation during the early 1980′s has meant that the status of Bee Craft Ltd is now a private limited company.
At the present time, 49 county and district associations have shareholdings in Bee Craft Ltd. As is usually found to be the case with the constitution of most beekeeping associations, they are either a charitable trust or an unincorporated association of members and shares have to be held by nominee(s) in order to give it the necessary powers to hold shares itself. In many cases nominees are two or three trustees or senior members of the association. The day to day management of the company is vested in a board of directors who are elected at the annual general meeting.
The annual general meeting of the company is usually held in May and formal notice of the meeting is sent to the first named nominee on the share register who alone is entitled to vote on resolutions at the meeting. Nominees can however appoint proxies to vote in their place and there is normally no objection to other officers or members of associations attending as observers.
Although by its memorandum and articles of association, Bee Craft Ltd is an ordinary commercial company, it has in practice been run as a non-profit making organisation for the benefit of member associations, the BBKA and beekeeping generally. No dividend has ever been paid on shares as they are regarded as being of nominal value only and instead the cover price is kept to a minimum. Shareholders will be aware of the stable financial affairs of the company where reserves are only held for the development of beekeeping publications and its associated activities. No fees are paid to any director.
At present the circulation throughout the UK and abroad is in excess of 7,500 copies per month. The company is managed by a group of eight directors together with consultants making up a team of 23 in total.
The present A4 size of the magazine was introduced in January 2002 with 32 pages to reflect current trends in publishing and readers wish for improved standards of presentation and this was soon followed by 48 page editions. The board gives ongoing consideration to further initiatives that can be introduced to the benefit of readers and maintains its position as the premier magazine for British beekeepers, ensuring that the best information about beekeeping is broadcast to our readers and beyond. This ambition is part of the reason to become known as ‘The Informed Voice of British Beekeeping’. In November 2008, we were the first beekeeping magazine in the world to produce a fully digital (online) edition, we also have Facebook and Twitter discussion forums, and in January 2013 we continued to be at the forefront of beekeeping literature globally by producing a mobile edition accessible on Apple devices including the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
In November 2012 we made a radical decision to offer all paper subscribers free access to the online edition. This was the first part of our move to offer our subscribers an even better subscription package. The second part of the plan was to launch the mobile edition in January 2013 so that you can view the magazine on the move. By giving all subscribers access for free, we hope you will agree Bee Craft is moving into a new era.
From its origins in February 1919, the magazine has had seven editors: initially C P Jarman, then Percy Thornton from March 1928, Jim Wadey from May 1937, Arthur Dines from January 1972, Robert Young from January 1980, Dave Ribbans from January 1993 and Claire Waring from January 1997.
Besides the monthly magazine, Bee Craft Ltd publishes a wide range of other beekeeping items useful to beekeepers. Books (technical, historic, children’s, beginners), apiary guides and a series of inexpensive booklets, many based on articles previously published in Bee Craft, as well as a growing number of beekeeping gifts, are now available via the online shop.