TRIBUTES have been paid to a grandfather who was a passionate and nationally renowned beekeeper from Clydebank.

Alexander Eric McArthur, known to everyone as Eric, died in a crash on the A9 between Blair Atholl and Pitlochry, near to Killiecrankie on July 2.

The 86-year-old had two sons, four daughters and eight grandchildren, and had been awarded an MBE earlier this year for his beekeeping work. Sadly he died before it could be presented to him.

Born in Perthshire, Eric had a career in both the merchant navy and the shipbuilding industry.

In a statement issued through Police Scotland, Eric’s family said: “Eric was a loving husband and had been married for 50 years. He was a father to six children and a grandfather to eight.

“He was a lifelong scholar and championed many environmental causes throughout his life and was a globally renowned beekeeper.

“Earlier this year, Eric received an MBE for his lifelong services to beekeeping.

“Eric was a much loved father and grandfather and will be sorely missed by his friends and family.

“We would appreciate our privacy at this difficult time.”

It was Eric’s passion for bees – learned, said his family, “at his father’s knee” – for which he’ll be remembered more widely.

Phil McAnespie, president of the Scottish Beekeepers Association, said Eric had been involved for many years with the association, including 10 years as editor of the Scottish Beekeepers Magazine.

When he needed to get information across to readers about a parasitic mite threatening Scottish bees, he used his skills with German to translate articles on how to combat the problem.

Mr McAnespie told the Post that Eric once attended an AGM of the association just days after he got out of hospital because of his dedication.

He said: “That speaks volumes about the man. I had a very high regard for him.

“Eric was a very articulate and intelligent man. He was very passionate about his beekeeping locally and nationally and was very well known around the country.

“He had a great heart for bees and wanted to see people keeping them properly.”

A spokesperson for the Glasgow and District Beekeepers’ Association said: “A truly inspirational man and wonderful beekeeping advocate, Eric gave his time and knowledge freely to many of us.

“Our deepest sympathies go to Eric’s beloved family, friends and all who had the pleasure and honour to know him.

“Rest easy dear friend, and know your legacy lives on.”

Eric was also a passionate campaigner for Scottish independence and was an active member of the Clydebank SNP branch.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said he was sad to hear of his death.

He said: “Eric was a tireless campaigner for independence, a veteran of Clydebank SNP, and a committed campaigner for Scotland’s natural environment - especially bees. Thank you Eric for all the laughs and fun along the way.”

Provost William Hendrie extended his condolences to Eric’s family and friends and added: “He was very well liked. He was a real gentleman.”

During a Save the Bees campaign by the Post almost a decade ago, Eric spoke of his efforts to ensure the insects thrived in Clydebank.

He said: “A beekeeper’s prime objective in keeping bees is to take honey and if he lets them swarm he loses his honey crop.

“The beekeepers are just basically working the bees for their own personal needs.

“I’m thinking longer term, and if every beekeeping association in Scotland did the same we would be re-populated in three to four years.

“The bees are in safe hands in Clydebank.”