Kirkcowan – What's Going On?


The earliest references to a Kirkcowan beekeeper are reports in the Free Press of a Mr. W.H. McDowall winning prizes at the Annual Show of the Wigtownshire Apiarists Society in 1885 and 1889.

The Western Galloway Beekeepers Association was formed in 1935 with Mr. Douglas Rae, the Kirkcowan Schoolmaster, as its first chairman.

Mr. Rae seems to have been quite a force in the revival of bee—keeping in a small way. He stood down as chairman in 1937 but served as an office holder in the society for many years. Many villagers kept a hive or two of bees, notably, in the 1920’s Mr. Andrew Muir the shoemaker and Mr. Robert Brown the ironmonger.

After Mr. Muir’s death his bees and equipment came into the possession of Mr. W. Paterson who, with his brother Mr. J. Paterson, became prominent in the activities of the Association.

In the 1950’s a visitor to Kirkcowan tasted some of the Patersons’ honey and was very impressed. He turned out to be a wholesaler in the grocery trade and placed an order for as much as they could produce. The demand eventually got so large that the number of hives had to be doubled.

According to one local estimate, there were about forty villagers involved in bee—keeping during the Second World War.

In the immediate post—war period the activities of the Association continued to thrive with various demonstrations and summer schools being held at different venues in the area. Kirkcowan seems to have been a favourite site for these occasions, possibly due to the strong bee—keeping tradition in the village and surrounding area.

In more recent years, bee—keeping as a part—time activity seems to have declined, with only a few continuing to participate in the fascinating and potentially profit—making hobby.

In 1975 a full—time commercial honey farm was established at Carsebuie and is still in operation to the present day.