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Author Topic: Joining your local beekeeper's association.  (Read 1773 times)
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« on: August 22, 2008, 01:09:06 PM »

I'm not really what you'd call a 'joiner' by nature. I mean... I'm not anti-social or anything, but I have a real tendency to do my own thing, take care of my own research, answer my own questions, and pursue my hobbies in a pretty solitary fashion. I think for the most part, the solitude is what I like about a hobby. I'm in the Occupational Safety & Health business, so at work sometimes it seems like all I do is talk to people. Generally when I'm not at work the last thing I want to do is more talking, you know?

So I was really reluctant about joining my local beekeeper's association. Between the internet, videos, and all the books out there I figured I could pretty much answer any question I had about my bees - but you know what? I was wrong about that. After all of the nagging in every single book I read, I finally broke down and started going to the local county meetings a few months ago, and now I'm really glad I did.

I have to admit, it feels a little awkward sometimes. There are almost 30 members. I'm 40 years old, and there's one other guy in his mid-40's, but everybody else at the meetings is in their 60's or 70's. These are genuine old-school beekeepers for the most part, and I've learned not to pay attention to everything they say just because some of them don't bother keeping up-to-date on a lot of the science.

You know what's priceless though? These old guys know everything about what grows locally, when it blooms, what the bees like and what they don't, what kind of predators bother the bees and what diseases they'll get, you name it. The meetings aren't really formal or well organized, which threw me off at first, but now I wouldn't change it for the world. I learn a ton just sitting there with my mouth shut listening to these guys tell stories and talk about their plans for their colonies in the coming month.

So let me encourage you... if you haven't looked into your local beekeeper's association, then take the time to check it out. It's been a very positive learning experience for me. I'm not saying forums like this and all the online resources and books aren't valuable, but local information from someone who is already doing what you're trying to do, where you're trying to do it is simply priceless.
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charmd2
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2008, 01:25:01 PM »

I really wish I had one closer than an hour away from me.  It is really hard for me to get child care lined up to attend meetings, then get home and still get the kids wound down, when everything is done on an evening basis.  I know no one will get enough sleep that night.  Maybe in a few years when the kids are a little bigger.   
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Charla Hinkle
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2008, 03:02:29 PM »

I have contemplated joining an association a few times.  My problem is exactly what you had mentioned...there's a lot of 60 and 70 year olds around who haven't kept up to date and aren't open to any other way of beekeeping except how they have been doing it for 50 years.  My wife's uncle keeps bees.  He's in his 60s.  When he found out I was keeping, he wanted to pass advice along, etc.  For a short time I was  happy about that.  It's always good to hear how the experienced do things.  The biggest problem I had with that was the fact that he was insistent that I shove chemicals down my bees throats every fall.  EVEN WITH SMALL CELL BEES!!!  That just isn't my thing and you couldn't tell him that.  "You won't have bees in the spring" he would say.  Well guess what...I have NEVER dropped chemicals of any kind into my hives and my only losses have been starvation losses (and one that had too much moisture in the winter), not mites, not foulbrood, nothing that a chemical is supposed to remedy.

I know I'm on a tangent now but it bugs the hell out of me and honestly, I don't want to be taught by anyone if they aren't open to other ideas.  That's one thing I like about this forum.  Mr. Bush, Mr. Bray, Robo giving me TBH ideas and the other veterans around, they are open to lots of methods if they make sense.  If I never found this site, it would have taken me a lot longer to find out about small cell and chemical free beekeeping.

Sorry for going on and on... rolleyes
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2008, 03:10:10 PM »

New Bee,

I'm a first-year beekeeper and learned primarily through reading books, surfing the net, and attending a few classes, but honestly, I get so much more satisfaction out of the 'human' interaction with other beekeepers.  I'm 34 and have some of the same feelings you do, but like other things, I look at it as a kind of tradition that the younger generations of beekeepers have as a responsbility to pick up where the older ones leave off.  I will say that there is a lot of conjecture and misinformation floating around, even in the beekeeping publications.

Having a few people that you can pick up the phone and call, ask to come over and look at your hives, or visit with on occasion is great.

As far as other people have commented on moving beekeeping into the 21st century, one of my goals is to get our club website up and running as well as providing electronic resources for the next generation of beekeepers.

Just my thoughts.
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steve
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2008, 06:00:34 PM »

Good on you Ken for joining your county Beekeeping Association now take that extra step and join the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association. It's well worth the price of admission.
    As far as those "good'ol boys" are concerned just deal with........what they know is not all bad ,backward or out dated it is what it is and as you've already said they may not be on the front line of the most resent published paper but they do know stuff. So give'm (the club)a chance and if in a year it hasn't work out , well by golly start your own club that's what the Wilkes County boys did and it's really work out great..........
                                                                                                     Steve     
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tlynn
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2008, 07:16:01 PM »

Yep, my experience too.  The local knowledge it invaluable.  We have one fellow who sits in the back, is very quiet, yet occasionally speaks up when confusion starts to take over among the younger bucks like us.  Then it becomes really clear what 40 years of local beekeeping experience looks like.
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NWIN Beekeeper
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2008, 11:59:37 PM »

Your milage may vary....

A local club can only be as good as the participating members.
I'm not going to stir the pot about my locals (you know my feelings if you have been here any amount of time).

I think other people have a much better crowd of people that care and try to help.

I guess my point is that you have to keep a degree of independence and take other folks point of view with a reasonable grain of salt. If you are a good beekeeper, eventually you come about a management style that aligns with nature.  You can come about your absolute style sooner from reading books or other people's advice, or it can take twice as long because you are distracted by acting out everyone else's whimsical advice.

I think my discovery of a style is off by about 5 years into the future from all my own whimsical mayhem... why do I need anyone else to add any more confusion?  huh

I find that local and even state events often highlight or focus on the hot button topics found on the internet forums. I like the forums better than a one day meeting because you have an opportunity to reflect and ask question hours, days, or even weeks after discussing the topic. The diversity of answers on a forum often provide a more complete answer from a broader perspective of people. 

Urban sprawl is snuffing out a lot of farms and beekeepers from my area. When that is combined with yuppy types that join beekeeping to be 'green' and trendy instead of having a heart and soul to be a geniune beekeeper, I think it jundices the mind of old beekeepers.  I thought that would change with my experience and demonstration of beekeeping on a serious scale, but it hasn't. They are still a clan of grumpy old men that care about selling a little honey and monopolizing the local fair and farmers markets.

When they die and its the end of their era, it will be sad.  I'm just not sure just how missed they will be.
Its sad, because there's a lot of information that could have been useful if shared, but wasn't. Its not hopeless, the people didn't learn anything that isn't still observable in nature, it's just going to take longer.
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2008, 10:27:10 AM »

Well, I think part of the reason why I enjoy the meetings so much is simply that I'm not really there to learn 'facts' or to share 'facts'. I just like listening to people's opinions, and I'll add them to the pile of opinions I've read online or in the books, process all of it, and use all of that to develop opinions of my own.

See, the way I figure it, I'm wrong at least 50% of the time, and everyone else on the planet is probably wrong about 50% of the time as well. I also tend to think that the stronger I feel about something, the more likely I am to be wrong about it. And in my experience, people who not only feel strongly about something, but also feel a need to convince other people that they're right, are dead wrong 90% of the time.

There are a lot of people on the planet who grade everything they hear on a sliding internal scale of whether they agree with it (in which case it should be adopted) or they don't agree with it (in which case it should be dismissed). I think those people would tend to be pretty miserable at these meetings, because their self-identity gets wrapped up in their opinions, and disagreeing with them ends up being perceived as a personal attack.

Personally? I'll listen to everything, agree with everybody, and then take all this stuff, mix it in with everything else, and come to my own conclusions. Maybe in part because of that approach, I find myself getting a lot out of the opinions of other people.
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2008, 10:45:49 AM »

I'm pretty smack in the middle of 2 Beek Clubs, and both are a hour away in opposite directions. I did join one, using their website. I emailed and asked 2 or 3 times about info to join the other and all I get is "come to the meeting". The meeting is an hour away and held around 7pm. I don't drive after dark, and am usually in bed by then. So.. I haven't officially joined them.
I do think they are a good idea, as someone pointed out, the new generation needs to keep things going, even if it amounts to having a club just to fight newly implemented ordinances against beekeeping. If there is no organization,  the "you can't do that here" people will run over the beeks.
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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2008, 01:34:43 PM »

I am also a member of the NC beekeeper's association have been for a year now and never had time to make a meeting but after visiting with a friend last week who is also a member and him showing me some of the stuff he has learn form the other members I think I am going to start making time to go to the meetings.
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2008, 07:32:05 PM »

Just wondering if there is a list of local beekeeper's association's on the forums somewhere.  If not maybe we can add a sticky somewhere on forums, so people could add there local club to a master list. that way people can go there and find there local club easily at a glance or see whats near them.  I would like to know whats near me as a new person to the hobby.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2008, 07:55:27 PM »

I'm sure not all bee clubs are equal.  But there are always interesting ideas to share and usually they get shared in spite of the meeting.  Smiley  Sometimes more get shared because of it.  Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2008, 08:24:00 PM »

Hey Card, THATS FUNNY!!!
 Me and my buddy Paul were going to the local bee club meetings. He's also same age as you...WE always cracked up after the meetings on our way home because everybody else was so old!!..Paul is the youngest....I'm second youngest and I'm fifty!
 The meetings are ok....I learned a little  and met a couple people who I talk to every now and then about bee stuff... I dont go anymore but I dont really have a good excuse except for the fact that i dont like to go into town. It's kind of weird though,.....Paul doesnt go if i dont go...Shoot, for that matter, I cant do anything without Paul being involved!...His wife says that when I do things, like go to lowes or Home depot, he gets all melancholy because i dont call him to go with me!......I try to get my wife to go(to the bee club, not Lowes) but shes always painting.....She asked me why I want her to go with me so bad, and i try to explain that I want the people at the bee club to know that I'm not gay! grin
She says that anybody would be crazy to think me and Paul were gay just by the look of us!
 People over 80 arent as liberal as people are nowadays!..At the meetings they kind of stared at me...Every time I spoke of something they would act like I was from mars rolleyes Or stare at me with their mouths hanging open as if waiting for a fly to go in(...yeh,....."Flyeaters")...Well,...except for Violetta...She is about a hundred years old and I think she likes me...Not "Like" as in next door nabor.."Like" as in
she seems to want a date!!!
 One other thing I think I have learned from the bee club....People who have bees seem to live a long time!!
Ok,...I better go now....I need to go take a look at myself.....See if my mouth is starting to hand open....
 Smiley
your friend,
john
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Sean Kelly
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« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2008, 09:38:22 PM »

I joined our local club along with another forum member (Jody aka poka-bee) and got a pretty cold reception.  All old timers and seemed pretty click-ish.  Only one person introduced themselves and only because they already knew Jody from another function.  I haven't been back to another meeting since.  I'd like to get it another try cause I know there's gota bee a TON of knowledge there at my disposal.  It's just gunna be tricky warming up to those old stubborn beekeepers.

Sean Kelly
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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2008, 10:30:59 PM »

Quote from: John
People who have bees seem to live a long time!
LOL! You know, I hadn't looked at it that way, but I think you're right. A roomful of people that old, all of 'em still living on their own and everything... they must be doing something right. cool

Funny (and true) story from the August meeting:
My wife and I got to the beekeeper's meeting about 15 minutes early, so we went in to the meeting room and sat down. On the way in we passed one of the oldest members of the association sitting on a bench outside smoking a cigarette. I said "Howdy, Carl!", and he nodded and smiled and we went on in.

So 20 or 25 minutes later people are thinking about actually getting the meeting started, and someone said "Where's Carl?" I said "He was sitting on that bench outside when we came in, but that was a good 20 minutes ago." Everybody chewed that around for a few minutes and finally one of the older gentlemen got up and headed for the door. Someone asked if he was going to check on Carl, and he said "Yeah. If he sat out there and died I want to be the first to get to his wallet." grin


Quote from: John
All old timers and seemed pretty click-ish.
The group at my association seemed the same way at first, but now that I've gotten to know them a little better I think it was due to 2 things:
1. Nobody new, at least nobody who doesn't already know everybody, ever joins these things. I think they just didn't know what to make of having a complete stranger sitting there. They sure didn't have a 'new member' protocol. Once they'd got used to having my face in the room, they got a lot friendlier, but that took a little while.
2. Nothing personal against anyone reading this, but I think we'd all have to agree that beekeeping tends to attract people who are a little... (trying to be diplomatic here) ...people who may not always be socially gregarious and outgoing. So you take people who were probably a little bit flaky to begin with, add 6 and half or 7 decades, mix in a dose of good old-fashioned cantankerousness, and put a bunch of them together in a room. We may be asking too much to expect them to be warm and welcoming at first, you know? cool
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« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2008, 02:17:29 AM »

    Sean and Card, great points.  When I went into one club I was basically ignored, except by one younger beek that had just started showing up a few months before.  Haven't made many meeting due to gas prices, but I did go to the training they sponsored and then I was gone for awhile.  Went a couple months ago with my wife and was welcomed, not officially, by most of the club.

     The other club is closer and I make most of the meetings.  As soon as I walked in I was asked about myself and greeted wamly by the officers.  What surprised me was when I was asked immediately if my bee yard was registered with the state.  All new members/visitor beeks are asked this and if answer is no they are remineded it is state law and encouraged to do it as soon as possible.  Both clubs have been full of information and love it when kids show up.  Especially if they show some knowledge.  All my kids have picked apart videos quietly (and correctly...I'm sooo proud) and every stinking time they were overheard and this always gets a positive response from the members nearest us.  I like both clubs and they are both so different and have so much information that I shut up and listen and learn.  Now If asked my opinion I give it. 
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Everyone said it couldn't be done. But he with a chuckle replied, "I won't be one to say it is so, until I give it a try."  So he buckled right in with a trace of a grin.  If he had a worry he hid it and he started to sing as he tackled that thing that couldn't be done, and he did it.  (unknown)
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« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2008, 08:40:33 PM »

Ken,
I have just been entertaining the thought of going to the Sept. meeting of the Guilford Cty Beekeepers here in central NC.  They are a nice group of older guys, and they know Soooo much about the area and what the bees like/do/etc.  I think you are right, they are mostly a group of old timers, but their local knowledge is very valuable.  I met them while taking the beekeeping course this year, to refresh myself of diseases and treatments.  The philosophy they taught was don't treat until you see a problem, which I like, personally.

They meet monthly, and every other month it's a pot luck dinner.  Should be fun to see what these guys bring to the table.  They also usually have a program, and in Sept they are having a guy in who specialized in making mead.  Live demonstration and all.  Should be really fun and entertaining, although I'm not interested in mead.  I do want to speak to them about my crazy bees, posted under "hive mystery" in this forum.  I called the president of the GCBA and he has recommended me calling an inspector. 

Anyway, I think you have hit on a great subject, and people should take the time to investigate their local groups and see if they think it's worth their while.  I think I'll be going to the meetings from now on. 

Nelly
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tillie
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« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2008, 09:48:10 PM »

I love going to our meetings and I'm one of the strange ones in the group because I'm going for natural cell size and because I do crush and strain to harvest my honey, but I love the thing we all have in common - bees - and it's been fun to hear how other people do it even if I don't agree with them.  I am lucky to live in Atlanta where we have lots of opportunities for great speakers at our meetings - Keith Delaplane, Jennifer Berry - each of them comes at least once a year - Keith often comes twice.  We actually have a number of kids at our meetings.

We have our share of old-timers (meaning in experience - not necessarily age-wise since I'm almost 60), but I think that it makes a difference when people of all ages are there, because that's how hobbies like this are carried on.  I learned about what it takes for a solar wax melter actually to melt wax from Durant - a beekeeper at our club in his 80's!

Linda T in Atlanta
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« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2008, 10:25:36 PM »

I just recently joined the Sacramento Beekeeping Association which is about 1 hour away from my house. I have not yet made it to any meeting because they meet in the evening in Sacramento and I hate driving at night in the city. I have had an offer from another beekeeper here on this forum to take me and I think I will take him up on it next month.

I will let you all know how it goes for me at the meetings.

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