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.