Geoff's lifelong interest in beekeeping started when he was 10 years old and his father introduced him to the hobby. When Geoff was a teenager his father bought a queen bee for 17 shillings and sixpence (87p!). In those days this was a huge sum of money and the family was horrified to discover that the queen bee had died the very next day.
After finishing his schooling, Geoff joined a young computer industry and wrote software for companies like Ferranti and Elliott Automation. After several years Geoff became frustrated with the lack of organisation on some of the projects on which he was employed and, after spotting a newspaper advertisement, took the courageous lifestyle decision to move to Devon to work with Brother Adam - but with a considerable reduction in salary!
Geoff spent almost a year working for Brother Adam at Buckfastleigh Abbey and at Brother Adam’s isolated queen rearing apiary on Dartmoor. This full time beekeeping role considerably extended Geoff’s beekeeping experiences but also enabled him to indulge his passion for cricket – playing at both weekend and evening matches.
Geoff returned to the north west and met his wife, Pam, in the early 1980s and decided that the outdoor lifestyle was for him. Geoff and Pam moved to the south east and soon after he had several hives which had to be moved from Reigate in Surrey to Bradfield College where they both had jobs. Geoff cleared and cultivated space in his garden, where eventually he had a total of 10 hives. He was devastated when the varroa mite first came to Berkshire and all his bees were wiped out.
Geoff has an enormous well of beekeeping knowledge founded on years and years of practical experience. Geoff volunteered to take over as Apiary Manager for Exeter Beekeepers' Association (EBKA) in 2011 and the EBKA colonies have flourished since then. Geoff has given an enormous amount of time to developing the EBKA Apiary into the good beekeeping model that it now is, as well as extracting and bottling EBKA honey with Pam. His wonderful honey has won prizes at the Honiton Show. It is no coincidence that the EBKA bees consistently show nil infections at Nosema testing days and that Geoff achieves good volumes of honey production even in years when other beekeepers are reporting poor results.
Many EBKA members refer to Geoff as the arbiter of good advice and Geoff frequently makes time to help new beekeepers inspect their colonies. This help frequently provides much appreciated reassurance for those who have nowhere near the depth of knowledge and understanding that Geoff has painstakingly developed over more than fifty years of beekeeping.
Pictured above is Geoff receiving his 50 Years Service to Beekeeping Certificate from Colin Sherwood, President of the Devon Beekeepers' Association.
Extract from Beekeeping, the Journal of Devon Beekeepers' Association.
Photograph by Chris Utting, All rights reserved. The Exeter Beekeepers Association has kindly been given permission to reproduce.