We meet @ 7.30pm on the first Wednesday of most months in Athy Church of Ireland Centre, Janeville, Athy, Co Kildare (EirCode R14HX26).
Lectures, presentations, demonstrations and workshops are given at these meetings by our own beekeepers and occasional guest speakers.
The Association apiary at Battlemount is of particular benefit to beginners, where they gain experience in handling bees under the watchful eyes of members.
South Kildare is a Conservation Area (CA) for the native Irish honey bee, Apis mellifera mellifera and we support The Native Irish Honey Bee Society (NIHBS).
Beekeeping has always been a rural based activity and in South Kildare a Beekeepers Association has been functioning for over 60 years. On the 19th of March 1930 the South Kildare Beekeepers Association was founded. Some of the founding members were Fr. M.J. Kinnane C.C.; Brother P. Dolan Superior C.B.S.; Pat Guilfoyle, Fortbarrington; Charles Chambers, Farmhill; F.B. Youell; Anthony Reeves, Reevesmount; and W.A. Tyndall, Horticultural Instructor in Naas. In May 1930 Fintan Brennan joined and became Secretary of the Association.
Fr. Kinnane was the Associations first Chairman and he organised demonstrations and lectures in beekeeping. South Kildare was the first Beekeepers Association in Ireland to establish standards for bottled honey. The Policy of producing a high grade bottled honey rather than sectioned honey was adopted by the Association. Honey from the local hives was bottled with a label bearing the name of the Association and a map of Ireland with an individual number allocated to each honey producer. Honey from South Kildare was despatched to all parts of Ireland and Jacobs, the biscuit manufacturers and the Monument Creameries, both of Dublin, were buyers of substantial quantities of the product.
In 1939 the Association won practically all the awards at the Ballsbridge Show against opposition from all over Ireland. That same year the Athy based group received the unique distinction of being chosen by the Irish Free State Commissioner in London to supply honey for shows in London, Manchester and Liverpool.
In 1936 Fintan Brennan and J.J. Bergin of Maybrook, Athy, gave a talk on Radio Eireann on the production of bottled honey as a cottage industry in Athy and South Kildare. The success of the early years was not maintained and in 1945, largely due to the low prices then prevalent for honey and the high cost of beekeeping equipment, the Kildare Beekeepers Association went into decline.
In 1974 Michael Moore was appointed a National Judge of Honey and in 1979 Librarian to the Federation of Irish Beekeepers of Ireland. A member of their Executive Council for many years he was joined on the Executive Council by Brother C. O’Farrell, C.B.S., Athy, in 1975. It was Brother O’Farrell who in 1971 achieved the highest honour for South Kildare honey when he won the World Cup at the National Honey Show in London.
Prior to 1930 there was no tradition of beekeeping or honey production in South Kildare. In the years since the Association was founded a number of dedicated men and women have made a major contribution to the raising of honey production standards and today bottled honey bearing the South Kildare Association label is guaranteed to contain honey of a high standard and appearance