Beekeepers’ Group

Latvians often gathered in quite unusual small groups, which later expanded to several dozen participants.

The idea of ​​founding a group of beekeepers arose in 1978, during the Harvest Festival at Rowfant Manor, when Helmuts Rozentāls, later the long-term leader of the group, and Laimons Krieviņš, the musical leader of the group, met and discovered that they were both engaged in bee-keeping. They became a business-like and organised group whose motto was "Latvianism, friendship, business enterprise" and were taken under the wing of the London Latvian Lutheran congregation.

During the summer, the main attention was paid to working with bees and in trips to seminars at Latvian apiaries, including the Latvian community centre “Straumēni” (Catthorpe Manor, Leicestershire). The beekeepers often also took part in English beekeepers' fairs and gatherings. A popular place was the Plumpton College of Agriculture (East Sussex) Bee mMrket. At the end of the year, when the sweet harvest had been processed and the bees were wintering, a honey harvest festival and dinner were held. It was a solemn event with honey in the place of honour and gratitude expressed to God for this bounty of nature.

The harvest festival expanded over time, and in parallel with songs and poetry readings, exhibitions and lectures were organized. Among them was Dr. Peteris Mente's lecture about beekeeping in Malawi, Dr. Alexandrs Melder's report on poisonous and edible mushrooms, as well as on wild plants in folk medicine. Leons Bodnieks, on the other hand, told about the making and history of the Latvian traditional instrument “kokle”. The artist Imants Laugalis spoke about Latvian art.

The beekeepers took care not only of the bees, but also of the Rowfant Manor orchard. Much effort was made in the 1980s to remove the damage from a storm and renew the fruit trees. All the seedlings were donations from group members.

After 1991, the activities of the beekeepers' group changed significantly. Several members moved or planned to move to Latvia. Among these was Helmuts Rozentāls, the leader of the group, and his wife, who moved to Kurzeme and started a new life in their parents' house. At the end of 1991, members of the beekeepers' group met for dinner at Rowfant Manor. During the event, several serious issues had to be decided, the most important of which was the future of the group: its continuation or liquidation. This meeting was chaired by Laimonis Krieviņš on behalf of Helmuts Rozentāls. It was decided that the activities should continue. The money that the beekeepers had saved before their leader went to Latvia was donated to the Rowfant Branch of the Latvian Welfare Fund and the manor farm. Gunārs Riemeris was elected as the new leader of the group.

Anglijas latviešu biškopji. Biškopju rīkotā Labrenča diena Rofantā. 80. gadi. LNA LVKFFDA 79. fonds