My First Beekeepers Meeting

It was surprisingly fun. I was honestly expecting it to be just a few of the same half dozen people who were all on a first name basis and knew each other really well/ had all been working together for years, so having a random new person would’ve been awkward. It was nothing like that. There were close to 50 people at todays meeting, the majority of whom didn’t know each other I would say. My mom went with me today, since I thought she would enjoy it as much as I would, and I was right. There was plenty of laughs all around, a fair few of them being bee jokes, which I quite enjoyed.

There was a guest speaker who had a PhD in entomology who asked us “why do people keep bees?” One member responded, “because they’re out of their minds!” much to everyone’s amusement. We talked about the various diseases of bees, though not in depth and everything I hear I pretty much already knew. The guest speaker talked about his field work, which involved the ‘waggle dance’ and how bees communicated. He emphasized that bees have the most developed communicative abilities of any species, second only to humans. He also showed us part of the field work he did, which involved moving a feeder around and placing it on different colors, to see how the bees would react to the change, and what they would do if the change became constant, i.e, if the feeder was gradually brought out earlier and earlier in the day. He put the feeder out at 5 pm for a few days, then gradually put the feeder out ten minutes sooner each day (this experiment lasted several weeks), and the bees recognized this and the pattern, and began showing up  ten minutes before he had put the feeder out the previous day. So if he put the feeder out at 5 one day, then 4:50 then 4:40 then 4:30, the bees recognized this and would show up at 4:20 the next day, so that they would arrive at the exact time he was putting the feeder out. He explained it a lot better though, (he is a teacher after all).

I don’t know that I learned much of anything, but it was fun. It did drag on a bit at the end. Two and a half hours is a little long for a beekeeping meeting. I did get introduced to a beekeeper who keeps bees in only Warre hives, and talked to him about what to do with my hives, as there’s wax connected to everything. He said I’ll have to tear everything down and make the bees start from scratch, next year of course. I was a little annoyed by this answer, even though you have to destroy the wax to harvest anyway, because if the bees don’t draw the wax out correctly from the start, you’re just sort of stuck until next year. I talked to B, the president of the club, who was surprised to see us there (he works with my mom, which is how I was originally connected to him), and he said he put two ‘brace’ bars on his top bars, so that the bees cant connect the wax to the walls. This is was I was planning to do anyway, so talking with someone who’s had success with it was nice.

I was also exposed to the master’s program, which is a 6 year process involving Apprenticeship, Journeyman(hood[?]), and eventually Mastery. Apprenticeship only requires $15 for a booklet and a test, and you can opt to just take the test if you feel confident enough, but a series of ten lessons are available. To become a Journeyman you have to have at least 3 years experience (which I will only be just completing this year), a field test at your local associations apiary, 30 “public service points” that are accumulated through volunteer work for your association, various presentations/demonstrations at various locations/events, or publications in newspapers or magazines, all of which relate to beekeeping, of course. You must also keep a journal for at least a year of your beekeeping experiences (oh look! I’m done!), “acquire information from beekeeping books and journals” which I’ve been doing on my own all summer, and a series of 10 exams must be completed which cover each section of the course. To become a master you have to have “six years of accumulated experience” and have completed “four research papers and one presentation”, as well as have an unspecified amount of “public service points”.

I’m interested in taking the test to become an official apprentice, if only to see how much I really know about beekeeping. Being a Journeyman sounds like too much work, and becoming a Master sounds about as difficult as getting a masters degree, which I don’t plan on doing. I’ll definitely email in about the apprenticeship though. The test is open book even, so pretty much anyone can be an apprentice. I might consider taking the lessons, just for fun.

Until next time!


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6 responses to “My First Beekeepers Meeting”

  1. Emily Heath says :

    The meeting sounds fascinating, glad you had fun!

    Interesting to hear how the Apprentice/Journeyman/Mastery journey works, as you say it does sound like a lot of work! Quite similar to becoming a Master Beekeeper over here.

  2. The Honeypotters says :

    wow! sounds really fun! Glad you had a great time!

  3. Emma Sarah Tennant says :

    Really great post, have tweeted this and will circulate to our association to read too.

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