Historic: Old beekeeping connections

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In the late 1970s, only a few years or so after I came to NZ to work as a beekeeper, I had the chance to meet Allan Bates.

At the time, Allan was in his late 80s. He had started beekeeping in Taranaki before the first war, and he even attended the first NBA Conference ever, in 1912. He served on the NBA Executive on numerous occasions over the years, and as president for two years in the early 1920s. He was made a Life Member by the NZ in 1960. At some point, he moved to Matamata and was a well-respected queen breeder.

So I met Allan Bates at a Waikato Field Day - I can't quite place which year it was! Russell Poole was delivering an address to the crowd of beekeepers, loud enough that all could hear him well - he told of the Honey Marketing Authority, somewhat beleagured by that time by the honey industry.

So the whole crowd could hear Russell Poole just fine. All except for Allan Bates. He sat in a chair immediately in front of Russell, and he had a massive ear trumpet. I have never seen one before or since. But Allan sat there with this device sticking up into Russell's face as he spoke, with a continual "What? What was that you just said? What?" Russell held his composure and finished his remarks.

Allan died a few years later, in 1979.

So it amazes me that I met him. I probably shook his hand. But sure didn't know he'd been such an important part of the beekeeping industry for about 40 years before I was even born...

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