Alex Riley-Smith

Alexander Riley-Smith
Alexander Riley-Smith
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ALEX Riley-Smith, who has died aged 66, was a beekeeper for more than 30 years and well known to the public in North Yorkshire for his demonstrations of the art in Harrogate.

He learnt to keep bees when living on the Scottish island of Jura from Peter Cool, the gardener at Jura House. As a result he always kept bees on Smith hives, which are a Scottish economy version of the British National hives more commonly used south of the border.

Alexander Riley-Smith was born in Harrogate. The son of Tony and June Riley-Smith, his father was a director of John Smith’s brewery in Tadcaster, and was instrumental in reviving the Jura Whisky Distillery. His mother set up the Peace Centre in Tadcaster for the use of the local community.

He was educated at Heatherdown School, near Ascot, and Eton before embarking on a career as a chartered accountant. He worked for Learoyd and Longbottom, in Harrogate, before becoming company secretary for Allton Contractors in Ripon.

When he returned to Yorkshire from Jura, he brought his bees with him and joined the Harrogate and Ripon Beekeepers’ Association, serving in a number of roles over several years including as a member of the committee, auditor, treasurer, then in 1999 being elected chairman. He also helped as a volunteer in Claro Bees, the local beekeepers’ supply shop.

He has demonstrated the art of beekeeping to the public at Harlow Carr gardens in Harrogate, as well as at Rossett Nature Reserve and High Batts Nature Reserve.

Mr Riley-Smith, who was known for his friendliness and readiness to help other people, kept his bees on an apiary site in the grounds of Norton Conyers House, north of Ripon, as did his wife Penny whom he taught how to keep them.

He also had a heather apiary site above Coverdale where he held meetings which were regarded as one of the highlights of the beekeeping season.

As a keen walker he preferred desolate hills to crowded places and always keen to explore new terrain, but was a cheerful and considerate companion.

Mr Riley-Smith, who lived at Tadcaster, is survived by his wife, his brother John and sister Miranda, his children and stepchildren Esther, Heidi, Ewan, Eva, Rosemary and Katy, and his grandchildren Georgie, Finn, Isa and Tabitha.