The Sussex Bee Keepers association was originally formed in April 1882 with Thomas Cowan as Chairman and the Earl of Chichester as President.
The County of Sussex was split into two administrative counties in 1889 with the establishment of County Councils for East and West Sussex. Within East Sussex there were three self-administered County Boroughs [Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings].
The Association lasted about 15 years before becoming defunct but it was resurrected in 1908 and continued to flourish until the 1970’s meeting the needs of beekeepers from Rye in the East to Chichester in the west. In due course in became apparent that geography was not in its favour as members found it difficult to attend meetings even though transport links had improved immeasurably. By way of example the main route along the coast, now the A259 was still unsurfaced until shortly before the 1939-45 war when much of the A 27 were not yet constructed.
In the 1974 local government reorganisation the three County Boroughs became districts within East Sussex. At the same time the western boundary was altered so that the Mid- Sussex region became part of West Sussex. The situation changed again in 1997 when Brighton & Hove became a unitary authority.
The association operated effectively as two divisions, East and West but in time rivalries culminated in a dispute over some missing tea towels after a meeting and the two divisions fell out. The eastern division clung to the original name Sussex BKA and the western division was renamed West Sussex BKA. This still causes confusion and wonderment among those wanting to find an association to join.
Its original founding father, Thomas Cowan who lived near Horsham for some years went on to be a very influential member of the British Bee Keepers Association, BBKA and the editor and proprietor of the British Bee Journal.