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Midland Spinner

Local Associations - what are they about?

Do you belong to your local Beekeeping group or any Beeking group?

If so, what do you get out of it?
(***Excuse me while I vent a bit****)
I joined the local association last year and renewed at New Year.

On the plus side I get public liability insurance, but I've never had a follow up call since doing the beginners course, I don't get replies to my emails and have never attended a meeting (they are held miles away, in the evening, in a pub, meaning a long drive on my own and expensive nasty soft drinks while I'm there, or take OH and have to leave him in the bar - and one of us still has to drink nasty soft drinks)

Just tried to find out from the membership secretary whether he'd had my extra subs to up the number of hives for BDI (I've been reading about BDI today, and now think that I wasted my money). I first emailed on St George's Day (23rd April), sent the cheque on the same day and again emailed again at the end of May. Not having had a reply I phoned this morning and got a rather tetchy Mrs Membership who immediately went on the defensive and made it quite clear that I shouldn't have called. Mr Membership phoned back this evening and took nearly half an hour to tell me that he's got no time to check his emails / reply to letters as he's so busy and that "the membership job is up for grabs" and "We do it as a public service - I don't get paid and I've spent over 40 on postage this year alone" (why doesn't he claim it back??). He insisted on winding up his computer while speaking to me to tell me exactly how many emails were waiting and how long it was since he last looked at them (56 unopened, since the 25th of May). If he's so short of time, why did he keep me on the phone for 30 minutes while I was dripping on the floor? (just come in from the rain as the phone was ringing).
While he was on the phone he made it quite clear that he thought I was wasting his time, that he feels my not attending meetings is somehow wrong (he'd rather I turned up, that way he could hand me information rather than have to write to me!). He basically patronised me from a great height and pretty much patted me on the head and called me a dear little lady Mad

I'm now thinking of joining Friends of the Bees to get the public liability insurance (and help bees!) - what does everyone else think?

Hubby bought me a complete set up for christmas 3 years ago the bees were due to arrive in May so i contacted our local bee keepers association, got the secetary who said she would send me some info, month later nothing, phoned again to be told I am so fed up of people calling me at all hours of the day dont they realise I have a life too it was 3 in the afternoon, so I sent an e-mail got no response. phoned another contact number and was told the secretary had resigned, found out details of courses and was told there was a 3 year waiting list, and it was irresponsble of me to think of having bees before even going on a course and it was people like me who were responsible for the decline in bees and colony collapse through bad hive husbandry, I was devestated, so I went it alone with books and the internet, never joined any groups or associations and dont think I will. we now have 5 hives and had successful honey harvests, our bees and hives have been checked for disese by a lovely lady from sorry cant remember the name of the organisation and gave us a clean bill of health.
Midland Spinner

DawnMK That sounds so familiar! I'm glad it's not just me.

I was lucky & got on a course straight away - but possibly because I read up before I went there were no surprises. I did learn things, and it was good revision with a few bits of practical (building frames and looking at queen rearing equipment in the flesh). But nothing I couldn't have learnt through reading, using the internet and applying my brain (although some of the other people on the course seemed completely flummoxed by the simplest ideas!). So I don't think that you've missed out or been irresponsible by going it alone.

So far as I can see, the only benefit I still derive from the association is the public & product liability insurance - but I'd be interested to know the last time anyone made a claim against a beek for damage caused by bees or honey.

The only meetings I've been to have been the auctions this year & last - and I very much got the impression that it's an old boy's club with everyone puffing their chests out and boasting about how good they are/bad everyone else is (rather like a Red Grouse Lekk!). As a result I'm now rather wary of meeting beeks in the flesh - although I love bees I'm beginning to think that many beekeepers probably aren't people I'd like to know (present company excepted)

I was speaking to bee keeper selling honey and wares a few weeks ago and I mentioned we now have two top bar hives that we are trialing alongside our nationals, he was appaled and said thats not proper bee keeping, he continued saying that townies are trying to take over bee keeping, they come and try to change things with there fandagled ideas and cause more problems by raising feral bees. Shocked
Midland Spinner

fandagled ideas and cause more problems by raising feral bees.
Shocked Mad Confused

Whereas the chap I sat next to at the classes who believed that an apidea was where the bees put the queen to bed with a drone. Was applauded as an all-round good learner-beek, despite the fact that although he'd had bees for over a year already, had no idea what the queen looked like, couldn't tell the difference between brood & stores and was still as confused at the end of the course as he had been at the beginning (partly because he always had to rush off before the end of classes to umpire cricket matches and his mind was obviously not on bees).

I would say that not all are like this. The one here is very pro topbar etc, and has trialled all kinds of other hives including a completely round one with four doors to observe whether they used different ones at different times of day (they did).

It's a shame some are old fuddy duddies, (remeinds me of the way my Mother deals with correspondence for the society (not bee related) she is secretary for), but like any such group - there will be good and bad out there.

well this townie who has lived in the country all her life with her new fanndangled ideas of top bar hives that have been used for donkey years in other countries who is breeding feral bees from the swarms she has collected that have come from one of areas biggest apiarys run by the local beekeepers assoc will continue to go alone and provide her waiting list of customers with honey Very Happy

last year we sold out of honey and beeswax in two weeks although it helps I sell it in my shop, we dont rob our bees of all there comb we are not into maximum production as long as the bees are happy and they continue with a clean bill of health, I have spoken to other new beeks who have similar experiances to me so perhaps its no feral bees we are breeding but a new breed of feral beeks Very Happy
Midland Spinner

perhaps its no feral bees we are breeding but a new breed of feral beeks Very Happy

Very Happy

I've not had problems like that with our local association as they are very pro-active and forward looking although the majority do use nationals & WBC's there is a real interest in alternative hives

It seems that Lancashire & Cumbria are pretty forward thinking however my friends over in Skipton have had experience like yours, which they were very surprised at having experienced Lancaster Beekeepers and the friendly welcoming atmosphere there

I've got to admit, I've dropped a little out of touch with everyone simply down to lack of time and funds but it's certainly not the fault of the club

The problem with Beekeeping is that there are a lot of 'old boys' doing it who are very stuck in their ways and if you come across that sort of set-up you haven't got a chance!
Midland Spinner

The problem with Beekeeping is that there are a lot of 'old boys' doing it who are very stuck in their ways and if you come across that sort of set-up you haven't got a chance!

I think it's not just that they are stuck in their ways, but mainly that they are bored & fed up with running the club, but reluctant to hand it over to anyone else. Probably in case they accidentally handed it to a townie with fandangled ideas.

The problem with Beekeeping is that there are a lot of 'old boys' doing it who are very stuck in their ways and if you come across that sort of set-up you haven't got a chance!

I think it's not just that they are stuck in their ways, but mainly that they are bored & fed up with running the club, but reluctant to hand it over to anyone else. Probably in case they accidentally handed it to a townie with fandangled ideas.

I think it's more likely they are reluctant to loose their perceived power base

As Jamanda says there are good & bad.
It's so long since I had anything to do with my local association that I have no idea how they are now.
When I was a member it was similar to DMKs & MSs experiences.
Positively Victorian in their attitudes to bees & beekeepers.
I suppose these old historical associations attract a particular kind of person to the higher positions, who are possibly more interested in the history than anything else?
To Quote Phil Chandler on the subject of Friends of the Bees.
Friends of the Bees - this is a dynamic, ongoing discussion - which translates as 'I am still thinking it through even as I build the site'!

My vision is: a kind of dispersed, anarchic, non-pyramidal, loosely-structured, campaigning, non-organization, based on a wide network of inter-dependent, self-managing, local groups, which feed information and ideas to each other via the Natural Beekeeping Forum and whatever other means they choose or devise. Think of the BBKA and turn it on its head (if only...) so instead of the centralized, elite-led, top-down, do-as-we-say approach, we have a de-centralized, co-operative, ideas-led, progressive, dynamic, evolving force, inspired and energized towards 'improving the world for pollinators' - which means, of course, improving the world for everyone and everything - so a movement rather than an 'organization'.

The model I have in my head is that of 'open source' software: think Linux, not Microsoft or Apple - think of thousands of geeks writing code in their bedrooms and sharing it freely with the world and somehow coming up with software that is as good as or better than that produced by highly paid programmers in profit-driven corporations. This is Open Source Beekeeping - and, of course, it is also about Open Source Growing and everything that implies: testing and teaching different ways to grow food and to reclaim the whole food production system - literally from the ground up. We need to regenerate and localize our growing methods alongside our bee husbandry.

Friends of the Bees is 'non-denominational' in that we do not promote a particular beehive or a particular method or philosophy and we have no Book of Rules and definitely no 'gurus' (aka prima donnas). Anyone can make a contribution.

Am I sounding idealistic? Good, because I think we need an ideal to work towards.

How do we create such a thing?

It's already happening. Local groups are being announced on the forum almost daily. They are all part of the network and may or may not need some guidance as to how to organize themselves and link together - that's something that will develop organically, I think.

I see campaigning as a central part of our activities and vitally important to make our presence felt as a body, rather than just a loose set of individuals. Effective campaigning and lobbying takes time, planning and a coherent message, which is where we need to harness the energy of those people who are moved to act in that way. This could result in a hierarchical 'committee' structure, which I dislike and I think is generally deprecated among progressive movements these days.

So how do we engage people who want to be 'in the thick of it' and enable them to contribute fully, without the danger of them leading FotB up a garden path of their own choosing? To put it bluntly, how do we keep that Chandler fellow in check and stop him sounding off about stuff that we haven't approved? And how to we rein in the Brighton Bee Liberation Front and stop them fighting with the Brighton Front for the Liberation of Bees?

In other words, how do we build in some form of representation - democracy, even - into the system, so everyone gets heard and nobody becomes a dictator?

That's where my ragged edge is right now: I don't know all the answers. Or any of them. Do we just let it evolve organically and anarchically, trusting that whatever happens will be for the best? Do we start with a scaffolding and try to get everyone to arrange themselves on it?

And to bring it back to 'what can I do - how can I get involved?' I think the guiding principle - and I forget who first said this - is 'Think Globally, Act Locally'. Get together some people and start a local group. Call it 'South Bumbledown Friends of the Bees' if you wish, or something of your own choosing. Using the 'Friends of the Bees' phrase in your name requires no affiliation fees and no obligations, beyond a willingness to participate and share in the spirit of Open Source Beekeeping, and identifies you with the movement as a whole while retaining your local identity.

Use the forum - - as a resource to share and advertise your presence. Make a web site for your group if you wish, or not if you don't. There are no rules, remember?

By becoming a focus for 'helping the bees', we can broaden people's world view and get them to see what needs to be done to bring the planet back to sustainability. This is about bees - and it is about a lot more than bees.

Compared to the BBKA which still seems set on being a mouthpiece for DEFRA & maintaining the status quo regarding modern food production regardless of the (now known) damage it's causing pollinating insects, I know which camp I'm in.
Midland Spinner

Just had a sort of apology frm the Membership Secretary - apparently he's finally read my emails and the bit about wanting confirmation
Rolling Eyes

He then went on to ask whether, as a relatively new beek, I'd got someone more experienced to turn to? (after more than a year of going it alone because none of them could be bothered to so much as phone me up!!!) *Facepalm*

I'm afraid that this experience, together with my few forays into internet beek forums has put me off Beekeeping meetings for life. I'll stick with books thanks.

Mine is great. Forward thinking, full of fascinating informed people who are keen to share their knowledge and disasters with me. Lots of support, friendships and cake. My mentor for this year is a weaver and sits knitting at every meeting (no ones perfect Wink ). I will suggest she comes and meets some of you one day. vegplot

What's a beek? Midland Spinner

Short for Beekeeper (a word that I can spell but my fingers can't)
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