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R.O.B. Manley (1888-1978)

A large scale commercial beekeeper

Robert Orlando Beater (R.O.B.) Manley is credited with being the first person in Britain to manage 1,000 colonies. His operation was centred in Oxfordshire.

Manley wrote prolifically, especially for beekeeping magazines. In my early years he seemed to have something in BeeCraft on a regular basis, often in letters to the editor in disagreement with others. He wrote three books that have become beekeeping classics:-

I like this Manley quote from "Beekeeping in Britain" that I use in the Wisborough Green BKA Beginners Day presentation - "When I began......I constantly ran up against difficulties that no book that I could find did much to explain. The authors often contradicted one another, and which of them was a poor novice to believe?". I think this will always be true.

Manley was one of three large scale beekeepers of his time, the other two being A.W. Gale and E.W.D. Madoc. He seemed to get on well with them because he refers to them both as "my friend" in "Honey Farming" and says he sought their advice. I have seen references that hinted that the Manley frame (Type SN/7) and Manley queen cage were developed from the ideas of E.W.D. Madoc.

Manley became frustrated with British amateur methods and turned to American ones, using prolific Italian queens and large Modified Dadant hives. He used the Manley frame and thymol in syrup to prevent fermentation.

He operated in times when wages were lower in relative terms than they are today and he didn't have the restrictions of the employment or health and safety regulations that employers have to deal with. He was obviously successful, but may have struggled in modern times, although he seemed to be a determined and adaptable man.

Roger Patterson.