History of the Ulster Beekeepers’ Association

The preliminary meeting was held at the Agriculture Buildings, Elmwood Avenue, Belfast on Saturday 31st October 1942 to form a beekeepers’ association known as the “Ulster Bee Keepers Association,

The Hon Presidents were the Rev. W. Martin, Newcastle and Lady Wickham, Comber. 

  • Chairman:  Rev. T McDermott, Glarryford.
  • Vice Chairman:  Mr David Devlin, Belfast.
  • Hon. Secretary: Mr. Joseph Nicholl, Ballymena.
  • Hon. Treasurer:  Mr E.R.B. McCluggage, Lisburn.

There had been the Northern Ireland Bee Keepers Association, NIBKA, formed in 1926. This struggled on with dwindling membership until it was affiliated with the UBKA in 1951.  Eventually, the NIBKA disappeared in the 1960s.

UBKA had 22 Founding Federated Associations in 1943 with a further 12 joining later. Membership in 1946 was 1217, however by 1968, only 7 associations were active, Belfast, Portadown, Lurgan, Limavady, Londonderry, Ballymoney and Newtownbutler. NIBKA had 16 members.

The second weekend conference was held in Bangor in 1947, with Dr Colin Butler, of queen substance fame, delivering two lectures. Annual conferences were held at various locations around Northern Ireland up to the 19th held in the Bayview Hotel, Portballintrae in 1964. The 20th conference was held in Greenmount College, Antrim in 1965 and has been held there ever since.

A Joint Committee meeting between UBKA and FIBKA took place at Gormanston College on 20th July 1965 to discuss mutual issues such as honey imports, labelling, standardisation of hives, queen rearing and the control of diseases. 

The 76th Annual Conference was held in Greenmount College on 14th and 15th February 2020 with the theme “Love Bees, Love Pollinators”. Prof. Tom Seeley, Cornell University US and Prof. Debbie Delaney, Delaware University US were the main speakers, along with Flemming Vejsnaes, Denmark, Chris Hodges, Mark Wallace, Megan Seymour, and Prof Dara Kilmartin.  There was a lecture stream from the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan featuring Prof, Jane Stout, Dr Una Fitzpatrick, Saorla Kavanagh and Juanita Browne. Attendance was a record at 570 delegates.

In 2022, UBKA had 15 Associations and 1100 members.