heather in flower

About Us

The Association

Wharfedale Beekeepers' Association (WBKA) was formed in March 1921. It draws its 120+ members from a wide area, most of which falls within the valley of the River Wharfe in North and West Yorkshire, and the district of Craven (see map below). A large part of this area lies within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

We are a registered charity (No. 506891) which promotes beekeeping through education and training.

The Association is a member of the Yorkshire Beekeepers Association (YBKA) and British Beekeepers Association (BBKA), through which our full members have public liability insurance.

We welcome new members, including those who are also members of other associations who may join as associate members for a reduced fee.

We run beekeeping training courses, and provide support to our beekeepers through mentoring and practical help in our local groups. We have a calendar of social events and talks and provide a swarm collection service during the spring and summer. Members of the Association give talks, lectures and demonstrations to a wide range of groups including: children and young people, people with disabilities and special needs, special interest societies and other charities and voluntary bodies to promote awareness of the importance of bees.

WBKA has a number of apiary sites where members can keep their bees and also arranges access to a heather moor site for use when the heather is in flower.

We are managed by a committee of members which meets roughly six times a year. Summaries of the meeting minutes are available from the downloads page. Meeting dates will be posted on the events calendar and the names of committee members are listed on the contacts page.

Please contact us for more information.

Wharfedale BKA Membership in 2016

Approximately 85% of our members are based in postcodes BD20, BD23, LS29, LS21 and LS20, but we aslo draw-in people from BB18, BD16, DB22, BD24, HG1, HG3, LS16, LS18 and LS19 and we have a few members from even further afield.


Beekeeping in Wharfedale

up the dale

The upper part of the dale has a landscape of moorland and rough pasture, up to 550m above sea level with stunning limestone scenery, scattered farms and small villages. This contrasts with the gentler more open fields and woodland of the lower dale and its principal towns, Skipton, Ilkley and Otley. This mixture of landscapes provides a wide variety of habitats and food sources for our bees with relatively little arable agriculture and few problems with crop spraying or monocultures such as Oilseed Rape. The population of the dale is concentrated mostly in the southern (lower) part and consequently, this is where most of the beekeepers are.

The lie of the land and local weather patterns result in spring coming noticeably earlier to the lower part of the dale than the upper, where winter comes sooner and stays a little longer. However bees do well here, benefiting from the Himalayan Balsam along the river in the late summer, the Heather on the moors in August and September and from the huge variety of garden plants and trees in the parks and gardens of the towns which give us a long flowering and foraging season in the lower part of the dale.

The vast majority of our members follow traditional beekeeping practice, using standard National hives and some WBCs although others are experimenting with top-bar hives and what is now being termed "bee-centric" beekeeping.