by Predrag Cvetkovic
BEEKEEPING - Learning and
Interview with John Phipps, the editor of The Beekeepers Quarterly
(1 of 4)
Mr. Phipps, you are the editor of
famous British magazines “The Beekeepers Quarterly“and “Bee Biz“. Please,
introduce yourself to our visitors by saying something about you and your
J.P. I have been involved in
beekeeping for over thirty years and like many beekeepers I have a great thirst
for beekeeping knowledge. However, the good thing about knowledge is that it is
something that you like to share - the more interesting and exciting the
information you have found, the more desperate you are to pass it on to others.
Maybe this is why I was a teacher by profession and enjoyed nearly thirty years
of teaching agriculture - a subject in which the pupils were able to be involved
in a practical way. As well as having pigs, sheep, goats, poultry, rabbits and
cattle on our school farm we also had bees. When children first came across bees
there were always two reactions - 1. an inbred fear of them, and 2. they thought
they were wasps because they didn't look like bumblebees. The fear was usually
generated by parents during the children's formative years and their ignorance
of what honeybees look like is still perpetuated by the media in its wider sense
- and it always bugs me to see (even in beekeeping works) honeybees looking like
bumblebees. So, both my enthusiasm for passing on news and information and my
wish to educate are probably two key factors which lead me first to writing
articles on beekeeping and then on to creating and editing journals.
|My first articles were written for the
general public - usually those interested in nature - and they were
published in "The Countryman" magazine in the UK. Soon after that I had a
monthly column in "The Smallholder" magazine which covered practical
aspects of beekeeping for those who were interested in self-sufficiency. I
also wrote for the National Farmers Union countryside magazine, again on
topical beekeeping issues for the farming community.
My first shot at editing a beekeeping magazine was
for the British Isles Bee Breeders' Association. The founder, Beowulf
Cooper, when he was at our house one evening asked my wife if I would take
on the responsibility of editing "BIBBA News". I don't know why he didn't
ask me directly. I learned a lot from Beowulf, not only about writing, but
about beekeeping in particular and his ideas have influenced me greatly . He
was a true mentor and I was saddened when he died.
Putting together BIBBA News was good fun but, like all editors, I had the
great problem not only of getting enough copy, but also of getting it in
time for the deadlines. In those early years, all the text had to be typed
with a fresh carbon ribbon on the typewriter and then all the articles,
pictures and diagrams had to be pasted onto boards, the headlines and titles
having to be done with the notoriously difficult Letraset transfers.
However, when it was all done you could see exactly how the publication was
going to look.
The next step in my writing career came through meeting Jeremy Burbidge of
Northern Bee Books. We got on well together from the very start as we were both
interested in old beekeeping books - though he was the seller and I was a
purchaser! I can't remember exactly how it came about - it must have been
through buying some of Herbert Mace's old beekeeping annuals - we got to talking
about reviving such a publication. So, for 1983 we produced the first in the
series of The Beekeepers' Annual, and this publication continues to come out
annually. In part it is a complete directory of beekeeping organisations for the
UK with contact details of the various officers. Another part is a desk diary
with space for notes and records, and additionally there is a section with
beekeeping articles. In the mid-years I passed over the editorial
responsibility to others, but took up the editorship again a few years ago.
When we first published "The Beekeepers' Annual" we soon realised that the
information needed revising more than once a year. I suggested that we produce
a "Supplement" which could be produced maybe a couple of times a year to keep
beekeepers informed of these changes. We adopted an A4 format - which gave us
space for an interesting layout and for us to be able to use large photograhs.
This gave us an edge on the other national beekeeping magazines as they were
half the size.
"The Supplement", with 12 pages, ran
for only two issues, October 1984 and May 1985, then in Autumn1985 we produced
the first issue of "The Beekeepers Quarterly", with just 26 pages, and over the
years it has gradually evolved into the 56 page, full-colour journal that we
have today. The current journal incorporates "Bee Biz" which was started a few
years ago, edited initially by Matthew Allan and later by Anna Lucia Merlo.
"Bee Biz" , a journal for mainly the commercial sector, appeared only
infrequently and I volunteered to take on the role of editor with the aim of
producing three issues each year. Whilst I suceeded in doing that, I often found
that I had a conflict of interests - for many articles were suitable for both
journals and subscribers do not like to see the same articles in each of their
Spraying comb with Mellomex
to prevent wax moth damage
||Editor's apiary - as they
were when the editor bought the hives
2. We have found out that a fusion will be made
between the two magazines you edit. What will the new magazine be like? How
often will it be coming out?
We have now produced three combined issues of the magazine and it will continue
to come out as a 56 page, full-colour magazine four times a year ie, each
season. I expect it will take some time to get the balance just as I - or more
importantly - the subscribers would like it, so I am always pleased to receive
suggestions for improvement.
We are only a small team that work on the BKQ/BB: the publisher, Jeremy Burbidge;
the designer, Mike Barrett; the advertising secretary, Julie Dower, and myself
as editor and my wife as sub-editor. We all have known each other over a long
period of time and work well together. Each person has their own job and we have
no committees to work under and have complete independence from any beekeeping
3. “The Beekeepers Quarterly“has been famous for its wide access
to beekeeping, variety of columns, friendly and optimistic spirit and a large
number of correspondents from around the world. Will you keep these tendencies?
Thanks for painting such a good picture of the magazine. Our success has been
achieved through the contributions of many beekeepers from all over the world.
Originally, and still today, some UK readers are disappointed that many of the
articles originate from overseas. They must look at the content of the articles
- not where they come from - for most beekeeping issues are of global importance
now. No one can afford to be parochial; we have to learn from other people's
experiences from all over the world. What is a problem in one country might
affect another only too quickly.
I hope that our readers feel that they are part of one big global family
untouched by politics, race or religion. The writers give freely of their time
and I know for many an enormous effort is required as English is not their first
language. I remember in the early years, before the internet and email (almost
all the magazine is conducted this way now), I had correspondents who might have
been in trouble even for listening to English programmes on the World Service of
the BBC through which they learned the language. In some parts of eastern
Europe it was even impossible for some writers to be sure of having a supply of
envelopes or stamps to send their articles to me. During the wars in Yugoslavia
western government sanctions made it impossible for me to send the magazines to
the correspondent there. Writers have made a real effort to contribute and many
of them have been involved with the magazine for a great number of years.
So yes, this a trend I wish to continue and I will be very pleased to hear from
beekeepers who live in countries which are not yet represented.
4. Can you tell our visitors how to subscribe to the new magazine?
To subscribe contact:
email@example.com or log onto
www.beedata.com (where a pdf sample can be downloaded
free of charge), or
part 1 (editorial work, BKQ magazine)
(beekeeping in Greece)
(beekeeping in UK, working with children)
(contemporary courses in global
beekeeping, the future of beekeeping)
more pictures 1
more pictures 2
more pictures 3