By Colin Bowsher, March 2022
On Friday 11th March, Louise, Terry Lacey (former Meridian Treasurer) and I attended the funeral of Scott Peters, aged 95 years.
My association with him had begun on a Meridian course in 2005. ‘Scottie’, eight years my senior, was a character and my ‘bee buddy’ who I shared many happy, some good, some bad, hours, days and years learning about and keeping bees.
Both of us, being full of keen enthusiasm, found a common interest in making our own equipment, attending auctions, meetings and conventions.
After learning the correct way to keep bees on Alan’s introductory course, we were all told that we had passed and that I was lucky to have a mentor who lived just down the road (Louise) if I had any problems.
Sound advice I’m sure, but knowing that mentors are busy people, and call it pride but there is an embarrassment in thinking you’ve done something stupid!
Scottie and I were both retired so could visit each other to discuss daft mistakes we had made with the bonus that a morning’s discussions could be followed by a meal and a pint!
The sitting room chairs at Scottie’s house were sited next to a bay window where one could observe the entrances of a couple of hives, with tea and biscuits provided by Una, Scottie’s long suffering wife.
These observations would result in new ideas and plans to ‘improve’ our bees’ environment. Constructing new mesh floors, adapting entrances, larger brood boxes etc. The plans would be carried out in my workshop.
On one memorable occasion Scottie asked for my assistance in spinning his honey. I’d already done mine with my wife in our conservatory using a four frame manual hand spinner. Scottie had a superior model with an electric drive. He kept it in the corner of a 6’ x 8’ washroom, which also contained a sink and stack of supers with just enough room for two operators.
The outside wall had a 2’6’’ opening window. I was aware of a few insects sharing our space. As the frames were put into the extractor and spinning begun, the room got quickly darker as bees covered the window. The room was filling with bees wanting their honey back!
The little room was evacuated and the door firmly shut as we called for beesuits! It was decided to open the window to assist the bees exit. The vacuum cleaner was used. Time to retire for a cup of tea provided by Una, God bless her!
We were involved together in many other projects. Hive stands for Lainston House to site bees along the lime avenue for delicious green honey, construction of a dartington long hive, and latterly a change over to the Rose hive system.
One of Scottie’s last projects was to move his hives into a Beehouse made from a good quality shed sited in his daughter Sharon’s garden. This project ended when he got badly stung one evening and spent nine days in hospital.
Beekeeping with Scottie was always adventurous and never dull: we learnt a lot together and enjoyed every minute of it. He could be outspoken, even blunt on occasion. To me, as a close friend, he will be very badly missed and never forgotten.
Colin Bowsher, March 2022
Some more from Scott’s daughter, Sharon
Scott Peters 1927 – 2022.
Although born in Portsmouth, Dad was a country boy at heart and often talked with great fondness about living with the thatcher in Thrutxon as an evacuee.
One of the many things he remembered from his days with the thatcher was the importance of telling the bees.
I also remember Alan Jonhson demolishing this myth, telling us bees were deaf, although l do wonder if they pick up some pheromones from us standing by the hive?
upon retirement, Dad rebuilt a wooden folk boat and had some great adventures including sailing single handed to the Azores and back. This hobby came to a spectacular end, when after losing the rudder off Lulworth Cove he and I limped back to Portsmouth through the 2005 Trafalgar celebrations. We were promptly arrested by armed marines for entering the exclusion zone and then towed home.
After that, he was open to new ideas, where he could keep his feet firmly on the ground.
I had just started the Meridian introductory course, and after a couple of weeks he joined me and never looked back. He was deeply interested in the life and habits of bees, verbally sparring with Alan and enjoyed the intelligent, good humoured company of the association.
He learnt quickly and read widely. He was furious when he failed the BBKA basic exam, not through lack of knowledge, but because he had tried to cram all his answers into the spaces on the exam paper instead of in the answer booklet!
We worked out it was more than sixty years since he had last sat an exam so this was understandable but it still rankled!
Scott also hugely enjoyed the woodwork associated with bee keeping and quickly filled his shed, then mine, with hives, supers and frames, much to mum’s disgust. He was aways keen to try new ideas and for a while having three hives inside a shed, with individual plastic ducting entrances was very successful. Just watching the bees come and go, and identifying the pollen they were bring home gave him much pleasure.
As did visiting his hives at Monument Farm on Portsdown hill when the rape crop was in full bloom.
Another source of pleasure was his friendship with Colin, and their queen breeding enterprises. Many happy hours were spent planning, building and adapting equipment. Some interesting structures emerged, but as far as l know, no queens!
Scott was a very sociable, and relished the meetings, stewarding at the Royal Bath & West show and the guest lectures arranged by Meridian. Always happy to chat to everyone and share a joke.
Enjoyed too, were the trips to the New Forest for the heather season, the picnics and apiary meetings at Twyford.
When he retired from beekeeping at the age of 92, it was Meridian who helped me with the sale of his equipment. His bees and hives went next door to my generous neighbours and were put to good use. Sadly, they suffered colony collapse in 2020, and my neighbour complains the new bees do not have the gentle temperament of Scott’s bees. Coincidental? Who knows.