IBRA: 60th Anniversary

publication date: Feb 18, 2009
Send a summary of this page to someone via email.


Providing information on bees and bee science for sixty five years


It was in 1945 that the British Beekeepers Association appointed a research committee, composed mainly of beekeepers who were also professional scientists and had experience of research and research methods. Dr Crane was the secretary of this committee. Their task was the organization and coordination of research in the UK on beekeeping and allied subjects. By 1948 it had become clear that the task was impossible without funding beyond the means of the BBKA. Plans were drawn up for an independent organization to take on the task.

1949, January 24th was the day that the Bee Research Association (BRA) legally came into existence. Dr Crane was its Director. Membership was £1.00, corporate membership £5.00. These facts explain why we have what are to some a rather strange title and a membership system.

I952 Bee World, became a BRA journal having bee "sailing under two flags" - The Apis Club and BRA - since 1950 when Dr Crane became editor. The most important single achievement of the year was the publication by The Association of Dorothy Hodges fine work The pollen loads of the honeybee, now a collectors item. This year also saw the
creaAppreciation from beekeeperstion of what has become one of the most famous logos
in the beekeeping world: F V Botley's projection of the world map in three hexagons.

 1953 was the year in which Mount Everest was climbed for the first time and climbed by a beekeeper - Sir Edmund Hillary. As there was no other body to do so BRA opened a fund for a commemorative presentation and a collection of bee books was duly given to the climber with a specially designed bookplate marking the achievement.

1955 saw the Cranes move house, and therefore BRA HQ, from 55 Newlands Road, Hull to Woodside House, Woodside Hill, Gerrards Cross. The still fledgling BRA had already managed to accumulate over 4 tonnes of publications and other material by this stage. At this point 53% of the members were from outside Britain so it was truly international.


1958 was the tenth anniversary and witnessed the decision to include members form other countries on the Governing Council reflecting the international character of the organization. The second volume of the, brilliantly conceived, Dictionary of Beekeeping Terms was published the jourWork at Woodside Housenal exchange scheme expanded.

1960 now BRA was literally reaching to the ends of the earth and it was not surprising that there was a desperate need for financial help and for a new headquarters as even the Cranes large house was getting to bursting point.


1962 saw the publication of H A Dade's masterly Anatomy and dissection of the honeybee still the text book to have and still available from our bookshop. The year also saw the birth of The Journal of Apicultural Research that aimed to fulfil the perceived need for a regular, reputable, English journal to publish new research ad original papers. There are many senior bee scientists today who owe their careers to this standard setting peer-reviewed journal.


1966 BRA moved into its very own offices at Hill House, Chalfont St Peters.

1967 with increased governmental and grant support IBRA's position strengthened, as did its status around the world undoubtedly helped by Dr Crane's tireless travels. In the year she visited the USA, Kenya, India, Australia, Hong Kong and Mauritius in a typically packed itinerary.

1969 saw the computerisation of Apicultural Abstracts brought about through the help, cooperation and support of Professor Gordon Townsend and Guelph University, Canada.

1972 saw a growth in the role of BRA as conference organizer with important meeting held in Scotland and Kenya.

1973 saw advances in the computerisation of data in cooperation with the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau (CAB)

1974 was the Silver Jubilee saw the globe-trotting Director visit: Argentina, Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Senegal. 

1975 Honey, a Comprehensive Survey first published and remains a basic text on the subject.

1976 BRA became IBRA the addition of the word "International" to the title was long overdue as it had, from its very beginnings, encompassed a global view and worldwide membership. The first of what was to become a very successful series of international conferences on tropical apiculture was held in London.

1979 British Bee Books: a bibliography 1500 -1976 is published.

1980 Second International Conference on tropical Apiculture was held in New Delhi.

One of the greatest names in entomology, Professor Charles D Michener of the University of Kansas, became a Vice President.

1982 two authoritative articles clearly foresaw the impact the Varroa mite would have on bees and beekeeping as it spread across Europe.

1983 at the end of this year Dr Crane retired after 35 years as Director. She remained Scientific Consultant to IBRA but was free to concentrate on her own writings and this led to some of the world's most informative books on bees and beekeeping beginning with the Archaeology of Beekeeping published in this year.

1984 Dr Margaret Adey takes over as Director. Directory of important world honey sources published and the Pollen Loads of the Honey Bee reprinted. Third International Tropical Conference held in Nairobi.IBRA Offices



1986 IBRA moves to North Road, Cardiff where it remains, after some occasional adjustments within the building, to this day (see Right).



1987 Dr Adey resigned and Vince Cook became Director. IBRA undertook a project to look at the viability of beekeeping in the rice fields of Bangladesh.

1988 Vince Cook died suddenly and David Francis took over as a temporary Director for a fixed period of two years. The Fourth International Conference on Tropical Beekeeping took place in Cairo.

1991 David Francis stepped down as agreed and Andrew Matheson became Director.

1992 A forum was organized in London on the theme of Living with Varroa this later became an important IBRA publication. The Fifth International Conference on Tropical Apiculture was held in Trinidad and Tobago.

1996 Richard Jones became Director in February. The Sixth International Conference on Tropical Apiculture was held in Costa Rica.

1998 A forum on Habitat Management for Wild Bees and Wasps was held and resulted in a publication with the same name. In order to maintain its main functions IBRA was forced, regretfully, to cut back on staff. The comparatively new web site www.ibra.org.uk began to develop.

1999 AGM
Picture from the IBRA AGM 1999.
Left to right: David Francis, Mrs & Mr Shimanuki, Richard Jones.

2000 The seventh International Conference on Tropical Apiculture was held in Chaing Mai. Thailand while in the UK conference was held on Honey and Healing again giving rise to a best selling publication and Apicultural Abstracts became available on CD ROM.

2002 a conference on European apicultural science, Bees Without Frontiers, was organized in Cardiff and was to become the forerunner of the biennial EurBee Conferences. 

2003 saw the publication of Dr Leslie Goodman's unique and most beautiful book Form and Function in the Honey Bee as well as Insect Bites and Stings - a guide to prevention and treatment by Harry Riches, and Making a Beeline by Eva Crane in which she told of her world travels in the pursuit of bee knowledge. The newsletter Buzz Extra was first published.

2004 The EighthJournal of ApiProduct and ApiMedical Science International Conference on Tropical Apiculture was held in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil.

2005, Apicultural Abstracts was suspended after over fifty years. During most of this time, up to the advent of the electronic super highway, it had provided the only and much needed source information on which careers were built and bee research maintained in many parts of the world. 

2008 the new look IBRA. In the last few years the Association has undergone a remodelling process so that it can be best placed to continue its vital role into the 21st Century. It is proud of its heritage and pedigree in the field of scientific publication and will endeavour to maintain and extend its work, and the standard of that work, by methods best suited to the age. The new Journal of ApiProduct and ApiMedical Science is just an example of that endeavour.