It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Peter Tomkins on the 27th March.

  • 17
  • APR
  • 2020

It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Peter Tomkins on the 27th March. He was 87 years old.

Peter was Rothamsted's Apiarist for many years until his retirement in 1992. On leaving school at the age of 14, his father had shown him an advertisement for a job at Rothamsted Experimental Station. He applied for it, and after an interview with Colin Butler, was given the job, thinking he would be working in the "B department". On turning up for his first day at work he was horrified to find that he would be working with honey bees, but despite immediately being stung he became fascinated, and so began his lifelong love of bees.

After working as an assistant at Rothamsted for a few years he moved to Cornwall to work and after National Service he returned to work in the Bee Department at Rothamsted, and even after his official retirement, he came back to help manage the bees and work as a consultant for Inscentinel "sniffer bees".

In 2012 the Tomkins Field Laboratory at Rothamsted was named after him in recognition of his major contribution to bee research.

He wrote many articles for the bee press most notably in Beekeepers Quarterly and Bee Craft, and until very recently was travelling and giving talks at bee meetings all over the UK.

Peter was a Luton boy and keen Hatters fan, he was always cheerful and lived life to the full. His company and conversations were always interesting and fun, he was an inspiration and many people will miss him greatly.

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes

About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.