The Bee Craft Editors: Irene Claire Waring (1977-present)

From Bee Craft: October 2009

Andrew Gibb

Bee Craft’s seventh and latest editor is still in post. She was a Director of Bee Craft Ltd from 1997 to 1999


Claire Waring

Claire joined the Northamptonshire Beekeepers’ Association in 1981 and became a member of the executive committee in 1983, since when she has served almost continuously until recently and taken on various roles including editor of the newsletter and programme secretary.

She was one of the top six students that took the, then, British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) Intermediate examination in 1988.

After Claire and Adrian were married in 1983, Claire spent much of her spare time helping Adrian to ensure that his classes ran smoothly, doing many of the background administrative jobs. Adrian retired in 1999 at the time CBIs were being phased out.


In 1990, Claire, Adrian and their friend Bill Collins formed one of three teams that entered the ITV programme ‘Busman’s Holiday’, a general knowledge competition with the emphasis on geography. And they won! The prize was an international holiday connected with their jobs and they were given the opportunity to study other races of bees in Thailand. This started Claire’s interest in travel. She has since visited many countries in Asia, Africa and North and South America, using these opportunities to take lots of photographs, another of her interests.

She organised a trip to see, and make a video of, the honey hunting in Nepal and this resulted in the establishment of a beekeeping project in the area. Contact with like-minded beekeepers who were supporting a similar project in Cameroon led to the formation of Bees Abroad, a charity set up to help communities in developing countries to develop their own beekeeping activities. Today, she still leads fund-raising trips abroad on behalf of this organisation and groups have been to Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, the Yucatan and Chile (see page 23). Of course, she also took these opportunities to take photographs of races of bees other than Apis mellifera, particularly Apis cerana and Apis laboriosa.

In 2000, Claire was elected to the British Beekeepers’ Association’s executive committee and subsequently became Secretary and then Chairman of its Publicity and Promotions sub-committee. In particular, she was involved in the beekeeping displays at BBC Gardeners’ World Live at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham, and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) flower shows at Chelsea, in London, and Tatton Park, in Cheshire.

Her time on the BBKA executive committee ended when she became its General Secretary for a year in 2004/05.

Claire has also made a significant contribution to the work of the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association (BIBBA), particularly in the production of its newsletter and in the organisation of conferences. She has also worked with the Central Association of Beekeepers.


Perhaps one of the most important contributions Claire has made to beekeeping is as Editor of Bee Craft, which commenced with the January 1997 edition. She is the journal’s first female editor which would never have

! happened when the journal first started publication. To this | role she has brought her considerable experience as an abstractor for a Royal Society of Chemistry database and the technological advances in information technology of the ‘dot com’ era.

For those who know Claire, it was not surprising that she gave Bee Craft’s appearance a makeover straight away to emphasise the change of editor. Also noteworthy among the early changes was the bringing in-house of the journal  typesetting and choosing a printer that could accept an electronic version of the journal ready for printing.

After the financial difficulties the journal went through in 1996, spot colour was re-introduced to the cover in November 1997 and full colour from April 1998. Claire made, for her, an uncharacteristic plea in the editorial that month asking that she be allowed to get used to using colour before she received too many letters pointing out unusual shades of colours for various aspects of beekeeping. The typeface was updated in 2002 and guest editorials by eminent beekeepers were also introduced.

Do you remember the varroa calculator which was launched by Stephen Martin of the National Beekeeping Unit at the BBKA Spring convention of 1998? Claire organised that Bee Craft should give one to each subscriber with the June edition that year. This was followed in 1999 by a series of posters and an annual bee courses directory, introduced from 2001. So, with all these changes, it is hardly surprising that readers began to say the journal had a ‘zing’ about it and almost a life of its own.



A queen of the stingless bee, Nanotrigona perilampoides; one of the photographs that won Claire the gold medal for bee photography at Apimondia in Dublin, 2007

However, it could be said that Claire’s first six years as Editor were in preparation for the seismic shift when the journal changed from an A5 to an A4-sized publication in January 2002. It was also arranged for readers to receive the journal direct to their doorstep instead of via their local association.

Those who have been following this series will recall that delivery of the journal has been an ongoing issue ever since the days of Percy Thornton, our second editor. The directors of See Craft were unanimous that these were the right decisions and subsequent events have proved this to be correct. The company made a planned loss that year to convince any doubters amongst subscribers that it was worth paying an increased subscription for a higher standard of presentation. The subsequent success since this choice was made has shown that readers are willing to pay for an increase in cover price for a better publication.

It was as a result of this initiative that the journal went on to win international recognition with the bronze medal in Slovenia at Apimondia 2003 and, even more exciting, the gold medal in Melbourne at Apimondia 2007. Much of this success has been achieved through the drive that Claire gives to her work as editor of the journal.


Receiving the gold medal at Apimondia in Melbourne for ‘simply the best beekeeping journal in the world’

Ongoing development in information technology has meant that the journal is now offered to readers in an electronic format as well as the traditional printed version. Not content with circulation throughout the UK, American beekeepers encouraged the production of a US edition of the journal which has been launched recently as Bee Craft America.

This only became a cost effective option because it can be published as a digital-only publication, delivered directly to a subscriber’s computer. This expansion in Bee Craft’s activities has meant that there are now nine people working with Claire in the editorial team producing the journals. As an information scientist by training, Claire is a fastidious proof reader where nothing, even the smallest detail, misses her scrutiny.

Parallel with Claire’s editorial skills has been Malcolm High’s ability as finance director to improve the management of the company finances significantly. This has enabled many of these initiatives to be instigated.


Running alongside Claire’s interest in bees was her growing interest in photography, which Adrian encouraged and which has developed to an award-winning standard locally, nationally and internationally. Although she is passionate about macro photography of bees and other insects, she has combined her love of travel with photography of larger animals including penguins in the Falkland Islands, brown bears in Finland and bald eagles in Alaska.

Also, did you know that the fact that her mother was born in Moscow precluded Claire from getting a vacation job in the Ministry of Defence whilst she was studying at Manchester University?

As the abstracting work for the Royal Society of Chemistry has recently been moved overseas, she is currently involved with the work of the British Alpaca Society where she is their Society Secretary.


This article brings to a close the story about our seven editors during 90 years of publication. Looking back through the published copies of the journal, each editor has taken a different approach to the task: Their work has evolved in conjunction with advancements in technology and faster communications, greater understanding of environmental impacts on the world around us, changes in the management of bees and the current interest shown by the media in the craft.

The journal has grown from being the Kent Beekeepers’ Association’s newsletter to be the largest circulation subscription beekeeping journal in the UK. In the beginning, Cecil Jarman was the first editor and he worked on his own. Nowadays Bee Craft Ltd has a team of 30 people working on various aspects of the company and the directors realise that this success is due to a team effort and not just the work of the editor alone. It has been a fascinating journey which I hope you, the reader, have found interesting.


Andrew Gibb wishes to thank Adrian Waring and Brian Dennis for their helpful comments in the preparation of this article.

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