IBRA History


A short history of the International Bee Research Association

1945 The British Beekeepers Association appoints a Research Committee, composed mainly of beekeepers who are also professional scientists with experience of research and research methods. Dr Eva Crane is the Secretary of this committee. Their task is the organization and coordination of research in the UK on beekeeping and allied subjects.

1948 It becomes clear that the task is impossible without funding beyond the means of the BBKA. Plans are drawn up for an independent organization to take on the task.

1949 The Bee Research Association (BRA) legally comes into existence on 24 January, with Dr Crane as its Director, and its headquarters in her house. Membership is £1, corporate membership £5.

1950 Apicultural Abstracts  is founded as a constituent part of Bee World

I952 Bee World, founded in 1919, becomes a BRA journal, having been “sailing under two flags”: The Apis Club and BRA, since 1950 when Dr Crane had become Editor. The most important single achievement of the year is the publication by BRA of Dorothy Hodges’s fine work The Pollen Loads of the Honey Bee. This year also sees the creation of what has become one of the most familiar logos in the beekeeping world: F V Botley’s projection of the world map in three hexagons.

1953 The year in which Mount Everest is climbed for the first time, and climbed by a beekeeper, Sir Edmund Hillary. As there is no other body to do so, BRA opens a fund for a commemorative presentation and a collection of bee books is duly given to the climber, with a specially designed bookplate marking the achievement.


1955 The Cranes move house, and therefore BRA HQ, from Hull to Woodside House, Woodside Hill, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire. The still fledgling BRA has already managed to accumulate over 4 tonnes of publications and other material by this stage. At this point 53% of the members are from outside Britain, so it is a truly international organisation.

1958 The tenth anniversary of BRA witnesses the decision to include members from other countries on the Governing Council, reflecting the international character of the organisation. The second volume of the brilliantly conceived Dictionary of Beekeeping Terms is published. The journal exchange scheme is expanded.

1960 By now, BRA is reaching the whole world and it is not surprising that there is a desperate need for financial help and for a new headquarters, as even the Cranes’ large house is reaching bursting point.


1962 This year sees the publication of H A Dade’s masterly Anatomy and dissection of the honey bee. The year also sees the birth of the Journal of Apicultural Research, which aims to fulfil the need for a regular, reputable, English language peer-reviewed journal to publish new research and original papers.

1964 The Behaviour and Social Life of Honey Bees by Ronald Ribbands is published.

1966 BRA moves into its very own offices at Hill House, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire.


1967 With increased governmental and grant support, IBRA’s position strengthens, as does its status around the world undoubtedly helped by Eva Crane’s tireless travels. In the year she visits the USA, Kenya, India, Australia, Hong Kong and Mauritius in a typically packed itinerary.

1969 The computerisation of Apicultural Abstracts is brought about through the help, cooperation and support of Prof. Gordon Townsend and Guelph University, Canada.

1972 There is growth in the role of BRA as conference organizer with important meetings held in Scotland and Kenya.

1973 There are advances in the computerisation of data in cooperation with the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau (CAB).

1974 The Silver Jubilee of BRA sees the globe-trotting Director visit: Argentina, Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Senegal. 

1975 Honey, A Comprehensive Survey  by Eva Crane is first published.

1976 BRA becomes IBRA with the addition of the word “International” to the title. This is long overdue as it had, from its very beginnings, encompassed a global view and worldwide membership. The first International Conference on Tropical Apiculture is held in London.

1979 British Bee Books: a Bibliography 1500-1976 is published.

1980 The Second International Conference on Tropical Apiculture is held in New Delhi, India. One of the greatest names in entomology, Professor Charles D Michener of the University of Kansas, USA, becomes an IBRA Vice President.

1982 Two authoritative articles published by IBRA foresee the impact the varroa mite will have on bees and beekeeping as it spreads across Europe.

1983 At the end of this year Dr Crane retires after 35 years as Director. She remains Scientific Consultant to IBRA but is free to concentrate on her own writings, including The Archaeology of Beekeeping published in this year. Reg Shuel becomes Editor of the Journal of Apicultural Research.


2000 The Seventh International Conference on Tropical Apiculture is held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and a conference on Honey and healing  is held in Cardiff, again giving rise to a bestselling publication. Apicultural Abstracts becomes available on CD ROM.

2001 IBRA has a stand at the Apimondia Congress in Durban, South Africa.

2002 An IBRA conference on European apicultural science Bees Without Frontiers is held in Cardiff and becomes the forerunner of the biennial EurBee Conferences. 

2003 Sees the publication of Dr Leslie Goodman’s unique and most beautiful book Form and Function in the Honey Bee, as well as Insect Bites and Stings – a Guide to Prevention and Treatment by Harry Riches, and Making a Beeline by Eva Crane, in which she tells of her world travels in the pursuit of bee knowledge. The newsletter Buzz Extra is first published. Keith Delaplane becomes Senior Editor of the Journal of Apicultural Research. IBRA has a stand at the Apimondia Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

2004 The Eighth International Conference on Tropical Apiculture is held in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil. IBRA has a stand at the EurBee Congress in Udine, Italy.

2005 Publication of Apicultural Abstracts is suspended after over fifty years. During most of this time, up to the advent of the internet, it has provided the only and much needed source of information on which careers were built and bee research maintained in many parts of the world. IBRA has a stand at the Apimondia Congress in Dublin, Ireland.

2006 Publication of Bee World is subsumed within the Journal of Apicultural Research. IBRA has a stand at the EurBee Congress in Prague, Czech Republic.

2007 The IBRA International Conference Bees under the Midnight Sun is held in Mikkeli, Finland. Norman Carreck becomes Senior Editor of the Journal of Apicultural Research. Death of Dr Eva Crane.

2008  The first special issue of the Journal of Apicultural Research, devoted to the small hive beetle, is published. The festschrift Eva Crane Bee Scientist is published. The IBRA AGM is held at the EurBee Conference in Belfast.

2009 IBRA’s new refereed scientific journal the Journal of ApiProduct and ApiMedical Science is launched with Rose Cooper as Senior Editor. Richard Jones retires as IBRA Director. A revised edition of Dade’s Anatomy and Dissection of the Honey Bee is published. IBRA has a stand at the Apimondia Congress in Montpellier, France.

2010 A relaunched Bee World replaces Buzz Extra as the IBRA members’ journal with Richard Jones as Editor. A special issue of the Journal of Apicultural Research on colony losses is published. IBRA has a stand at the EurBee Congress in Ankara, Turkey.

2011 An international conference Varroa – Still a Problem in the 21st Century is organised at Worcester, UK, and becomes a publication. The Journal of ApiProduct and ApiMedical Science ceases publication.


2012 The important book Plants for Bees by William Kirk based on Plants and Beekeeping by F N Howes is published and becomes IBRA’s bestselling publication. IBRA has a stand at the EurBee Congress in Halle, Germany.

2013 The IBRA office moves to Treforest in Wales. IBRA publishes COLOSS BEEBOOK I and II as two special Issues of the Journal of Apicultural Research and as two hard copy books. IBRA has a stand at the Apimondia Congress in Kiev, Ukraine.


 2014 The special issue of the Journal of Apicultural Research on honey bee genotypes and the environment is published. The IBRA BeeWorld Project and Education Pack are launched.

2015 Kirsten Traynor becomes Editor of Bee World. Publication of both Bee World and the Journal of Apicultural Research are taken over by the Taylor & Francis Group on behalf of IBRA. IBRA is represented at the Apimondia Congress in Daejeon, South Korea.

The IBRA Bookshop moves to Quince Honey Farm, Devon which fulfills sales orders on IBRA’s behalf.

The outsourcing of publications and partnership with Quince Honey Farm allow IBRA to close its headquarters at Treforest, Wales.

The IBRA library of historical books, the photographic archive, core reference collection of IBRA publications, and remaining historical artefacts are also transported to Quince Honey Farm. The IBRA / Eva Crane historical collection is transferred to the Bijenteeltmuseum at Kalmthout, Belgium and key items are put on display there.

The registered address of IBRA changes to Hendal House, Hendal Hill, Groombridge, East Sussex, TN3 9NT, UK.

Tony Gruba retires from doing the accounts and general administration for IBRA on a service-supplier basis. Julian Rees resigns as Operations Director.

The IBRA BeeWorld Project and Education Pack are closed down.

IBRA is represented at the Apimondia Congress in Daejeon, South Korea.

Facebook and Twitter are used to promote significant IBRA events as they happen.

2016 Following the previous upheaval, this is a year of consolidation for IBRA. The transfer of publication of Bee World and the Journal of Apicultural Research to the Taylor & Francis group, the closure of our HQ in Treforest, and the establishment of the IBRA Bookshop at Quince Honey Farm, Devon, had left IBRA severely stretched during 2015. The consequent publication backlog was recovered during 2016.

The Registered Office of IBRA moves to 91 Brinsea Road, Congresbury, Bristol, BS49 5JJ, UK.

2017 Having successfully managed the reorganisation of 2015 to 2016, IBRA turns again to addressing the chronic problem of under-funding. Until 2014, IBRA had regularly benefited from significant donations from the Eva Crane Trust but since then that has stopped. IBRA decides that it now needs to trim further its cost-base to protect and prioritise the publication of its journals and books. Lower priority categories of work are stopped.

IBRA agrees a book publishing partnership with Northern Bee Books to access publishing expertise, lower cost publishing and much better global distribution of books.

Robert Brodschneider is appointed Editor of Bee World after Kirsten Traynor resigns.

2018 IBRA, for the first time in many years, eliminates its operating financial losses as a result of implementing the major restructuring programme during the previous four years.

The publishing contract with Taylor & Francis is operating successfully to provide increased global availability of our journals and the three new editors (of both Bee World and Journal of Apicultural Research) have settled in well.

The book publishing partnership with Northern Bee Books is providing IBRA with a more efficient process for producing and distributing globally both new and reprinted books.

The IBRA library of historical books, IBRA’s records and reference collection of IBRA publications, and a few historical artefacts remain in store at Quince Honey Farm. Some of the IBRA / Eva Crane collection of historical beekeeping artefacts are on display whilst the rest remain in store at the Bijenteeltmuseum, Kalmthout, Belgium.

Norman Carreck resigns as Science Director and Editor of Journal of Apicultural Research. Maria Bouga and Melanie Parejo take over as Editors of Journal of Apicultural Research.

Facebook and Twitter postings are now operated by Jess Williams.

2019 IBRA continues to operate with a small financial surplus.

2020 Honey, a Comprehensive Survey by Eva Crane is reprinted.

The Registered Address of IBRA changes to 1 Agincourt Street, Monmouth NP25 3DZ, UK.

2021 IBRA publishes COLOSS BEEBOOK Volume III in hard copy and a book on Malaysian Meliponiculture (stingless bees). IBRA increases its annual financial surplus, mainly because it is now predominantly run by volunteers.