Alnwick’s bee brigade

Rothbury beekeeper Ebba Cummings. Ref: JCNG 110713ebba1
Rothbury beekeeper Ebba Cummings. Ref: JCNG 110713ebba1

At 87 years old, you might expect to be taking it easy, but Ebba Cummings has other ideas.

The former fireman from Rothbury is a keen beekeeper and has now been given a long-service award for his 70 years of effort in what he calls a hobby.

The accolade has been given to Ebba by the Alnwick and District Beekeepers’ Association.

Ebba, a great-grandfather, of Woodlands, has kept bees since he was a teenager and has continued the hobby throughout his work and family life.

At one point he had eight hives to tend to, but three years ago they were all but wiped out by a deadly bee virus.

Now he has just one hive, but still enjoys his hobby.

Ebba said: “I really enjoy it. It is just a hobby, but I love it.

“I was very very pleased to receive the long-service award. It was supposed to be presented to me in February, but that was when the snow was really bad and we couldn’t make it out of Rothbury.”

In a letter to Ebba, the chairman of Alnwick and District Beekeepers’ Association, David Pearce, said: “It is with the greatest of pleasure that I am writing to you on behalf of all members of Alnwick and District Beekeepers Association to let you know your many years of commitment and passion towards bees and beekeeping have not gone by unnoticed.”

Ebba started beekeeping in 1940. He left school at 14 and was apprenticed to a local shoemaker who was a beekeeper and part of Ebba’s duties was to help in his apiary.

His enthusiasm was infectious, and within two years, Ebba’s father, Bolam, had established his own apiary which Ebba and Bolam worked together.

Because of the area in which he lives, Ebba’s beekeeping career has focused mainly on heather.

Ebba says that the only way to learn about bees is to work with them.

In 2010 his entire colony was wiped out by the varroa mite disease and despite him treating the bees, he was left with empty hives.