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The world’s longest established apicultural research publishers

 [Immediate, 28/09/15] 

St Ambrose is going home  

For the last 40 years, a three foot six inch, 17th Century figure of the patron saint of beekeepers has watched over staff at The International Bee Research Association. The statute of German or Flemish origin is carved from pear wood. Now it is going home to Winchester. 

Little is known about the carved figure except it was added to Winchester Museum’s collection prior to 1853. Before then, it resided in an old house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London. It was lent to IBRA for display in 1975.

Much more is, however, known about St Ambrose himself, who has been venerated as the patron saint of beekeepers for many centuries. He is often depicted with a skep and bees as in this carving. Possibly these symbols represent the Church or Christendom, and the bees the souls of the faithful. Alternatively it may be a reference to the story recounted by St Paulinus that a swarm of bees settled on the mouth of the infant Ambrose, and then departed leaving the child unharmed. This event led to the reputation that Ambrose is given, of rhetoric and being “honey-tongued”. St Ambrose or Aurelius Ambrosius was born around 340 AD and died on 4 April 397. Gibbon in his “Decline and fall of the Roman Empire” says he was a man of vigour and ability, and was loved and revered as a father. By the age of 34 he was governor of Liguria, the province where Milan is situated. When the archbishop of Milan died, Ambrose was elected as his successor, and is said to have given freely to the poor and given wise counsel to successive emperors. In 382 AD he built a great basilica, which was rebuilt as the current San Ambrogio church in the tenth century. Although badly damaged in the Second World War, it has now been restored and its walls are adorned with some great works of art. Today the remains of St Ambrose lie in the crypt. 

IBRA is delighted that the carving is returning home. Ross Turle, Curator of Social and Industrial History at Hampshire Cultural Trust was pleased to welcome him back and says: “We know little about him before 1853 when he was deposited with us but we would be very happy to find out if anyone knows more about him,”. 

Press Release


Norman Carreck, Science Director, IBRA +44 (0)791 8670169 Email: 


1. Hampshire arts and museums and Winchester museums are now operated and funded by Hampshire Cultural Trust. This independent charity champions world-class culture and exists to showcase, connect and empower Hampshire’s creative economy. To find out more and get involved visit: 

2. The International Bee Research Association (“IBRA”) founded in 1949 is the world’s longest established apicultural research publishers and promotes the value of bees by providing information on bee science and beekeeping worldwide. 

3. In association with the Taylor & Francis Group, IBRA publishes Bee World, founded by the Apis Club in 1919. This is now an accessible and topical journal containing the latest bee research, news, reviews and other relevant information for the bee scientist, beekeeper, and anyone with an interest in bees. It is published four times a year: 

4. In association with the Taylor & Francis Group, IBRA publishes the peer-reviewed scientific journal the Journal of Apicultural Research, founded by IBRA in 1962. It includes original research articles, theoretical papers; scientific notes and comments; together with authoritative reviews on scientific aspects of the biology, ecology, natural history, conservation and culture of all types of bee. It is published five times a year. The ISI Impact Factor (2014) is 1.895 and the ISI 5-year Impact Factor is 1.942:- 

5. IBRA publishes and sells books on bee science, bee conservation and beekeeping and also provides bee information services. IBRA is a Registered Charity, and its Council of Trustees boasts some of the world’s leading bee scientists. 

6. IBRA membership and subscription rates 2015:- 

IBRA Membership including Bee World (£36 €50 $US57) IBRA Membership including online Journal of Apicultural Research (£90 €125 $US141) IBRA Membership including online and print Journal of Apicultural Research (£150 €208 $US235) 

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