&   SEARCH
David A. Cushman logo
Dave Cushman

The Eulogy

At Dave Cushman's funeral I was priveleged to read the eulogy. It has been suggested that it be displayed on a page here on his website.

"I knew Dave Cushman through beekeeping, which was one of his many interests. Although he made a huge contribution to the craft I am only going to concentrate on the small part I am involved in.

I consider I knew Dave very well and my memories of him will always be positive. Due to the electronic age he was well known and well respected for his beekeeping website that was largely developed during a long period of illness, which is a remarkable achievement. The website has become a tremendous resource for beekeepers and researchers worldwide and is often the first source consulted by beekeepers of all abilities. It is seen as the leading resource by some distance and is probably the most linked. I once asked Dave why he had instructions for the use of a chemical treatment for bees that is not registered in the U.K. His response was that his website was accessed by many non U.K. beekeepers and he was trying to provide a service for everybody.

It is a credit to him that although he had strong views on some issues he was willing to include material that he didn't agree with, providing it was technically sound and it would help someone somewhere else.

It was typical of his generosity that virtually all his material was free of copyright and he encouraged others to use it, all he asked for in return was a credit.

I have no need to discuss the details here but several weeks before his passing he asked me to take over his website. He had done no work on it for some time because the physical effort involved in simply keeping going was as much as he could manage. He couldn't even get upstairs to let me have the information I needed in order to transfer it. I could tell he was frustrated, which is understandable considering some days he spent 15-16 hours at the computer, and he was no longer able to do so. In many ways Dave was a perfectionist and if he did something he wanted to do it well, probably as a result of his engineers mind. Everything in his websites was meticulously hand coded. The amount of work he got through was phenomenal and he was always doing something. How he managed to find the time to do what he did is amazing. Very often an email to him would be answered within an hour, and I know other people can tell similar stories.

I am dealing with the family regarding the website transfer which I hope will go fairly smoothly. I am unable to spend the time Dave did on it, but I will do my best. He was an exceptionally good friend of mine and from the messages I have seen he was a friend of many others too, most of whom never met him. I don't like the word "Memorial" because so often it is seen as just a piece of wood, metal or stone with a few words on. As far as I'm concerned it will always be Dave Cushman's website and permanently on display where future generations of beekeepers can enjoy the benefits the rest of us have taken for granted. He will not be quickly forgotten.

Dave maintained and hosted several other websites, some not beekeeping and to the best of my knowledge he didn't accept payment for any of them.

I never saw him handle bees, but considering his caring attitude towards them I guess he was good. He certainly had a huge amount of knowledge about them. I heard several of his lectures and they were never the same, always something different. The last one being at the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association (BIBBA) Conference in Cahir, Tipperary, in September, where despite his obvious declining health he still put up a good performance. Although his movements were slow his brain was incredibly sharp right to the end.

He was a regular contributor to many internet beekeeping discussion groups where his knowledge was well respected. There were no silly pointless posts with Dave, that was not his style.

On one such discussion forum the following was written by a beekeeper from California:-

"Definitely sad news. Like hearing of the passing of other bee giants like Brother Adam, Richard Taylor, Steve Taber, Harry Laidlaw in my beekeeping generation.

He was a pioneer in the beekeeping field as one of the first to use the power of the internet to share his love of beekeeping with others worldwide. Might be said he was the first to aggregate so much information and make it so readily available without charge to so many folks who were interested in bees.

Even after many years of beekeeping I would find myself gravitating back to his website whenever I had a question about anything "bee" related. If I was looking for something "new" or trying to recall something I had forgotten on a subject I would search his knowledge database.

He laid things out in a way that conveyed the information in a manner one could easily understand. Very helpful for those of us not fit for a PhD behind our name.

A truly gracious beekeeper who loved the bees and obviously loved sharing what he knew with others. Also, he lived as poignant example proving that no matter what your physical condition is in life, you can still make a grand contribution to the betterment of society if you are willing."

There are others with a similar content.

Dave was well thought of in Ireland and a regular attendee at the annual beekeeping summer school at Gormanston, where he lectured on several occasions and his wisdom was eagerly sought.

Dave was an authority on our native bees and did a lot to publicise them. He was a trustee of the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association and at their meeting on 13th February the committee voted to make Dave an Honorary Member. A certificate was to have been presented to him at the AGM in April. He was an Honorary Life Member of the Galtee Bee Breeding Group based in the Republic of Ireland and in a message I received from the Chairman, Micheál Mac Giolla Coda I quote "He was a great friend of GBBG and held a special place in his heart for this group."

Those who were lucky enough to spend time in conversation with Dave would quickly realize what an incredibly knowledgeable man he was about a lot of things you wouldn't expect. There seemed to be hardly a subject he knew nothing about. If he didn't know something he would be happy to say so, and if he was interested he would research it and let you know. Conversations were never one way and I never detected an air of superiority, he was just happy to chat, gaining and imparting knowledge.

Dave did not suffer fools and being of similar nature I can fully understand that. I would be fooling you if I didn't say there were some he didn't take to and some who didn't take to him. He was outspoken and although I don't consider that a fault some do, especially if they are told something they would rather not hear. He may on occasions have appeared abrupt, but considering his condition, those who knew him understood and forgave him. He was obviously in a lot of discomfort and considering how active he had previously been, it must have been very frustrating to be so handicapped. He was very open about his condition but I never once heard him complain. In fact he often poked fun at himself, often with a bit of help!

Overall I found Dave very fair minded and he certainly put the needs and understanding of honey bees above personal glory, something he objected to most strongly in others, who were trying to make a name for themselves when they had no right to do so.

At the 2009 National Honey Show we spent a lot of time together manning the stand of the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association. We were next to the stand of the largest beekeeping equipment supplier, who had a small polystyrene queen mating hive for sale for around £10. I showed it to Dave who had a good look at it, we had a bit of a discussion and I put it back. I then went off to introduce a lecturer at one of the seminars and when I got back an hour or so later I saw this item on our stand. I said to him "I thought I put it back, and picked it up to return it". "I've bought that" said Dave. My reply was "What for, you haven't got any bees?". "I've been thinking about it and I've got an idea to help the ordinary beekeeper make better use of it". Soon afterwards an article from Dave appeared in the Bee Improvement Magazine and subsequently on his own website. He had spent his own money he could probably ill afford on something he was never going to use himself just to help others.

Along with many others I'm going to miss Dave Cushman. He sought no personal glory, but he was well known and respected, simply because he did a lot of favours for a lot of people and he did them well. He earned and deserved their respect. Thanks for your contribution to my life Dave, and those of many others worldwide, most of whom weren't fortunate enough to have met you."

Roger Patterson.