“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.” ~ Andy, The Breakfast Club
The WA Apiarists Society is the only official organization I am a member of. I’m not anti-social, I’m selectively social. I tend to take the view of Groucho Marx….
“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”
The fastest way to make me really uncomfortable (to the point of fleeing for the exit) is to put me in an environment where I am pressured to fit in or pick-a-clique. I don’t really like the “find your tribe” movement that seems to be obsequious these days. I don’t want to be surrounded by people who think, look and act all the same way. (I think I can thank religious-all-girls-boarding-school for that knee-jerk reflex!)
And I have enough self-awareness to conclude I am too introverted to be a really good group leader. Plus I’m far too judgemental to be an unquestioning disciple.
But my “Bee Club” is different.
Because everyone is different, with one passion in common. Apis mellifera.
You don’t become hopelessly enamored with what is essentially a box a stinging bugs without being a little bit unusual, I suppose. While I wouldn’t suggest that all our members are rebels by nature, they are certainly a bit misfit-y. Most of us at club are more than comfortable in our own, slightly weird skin.
There is a huge spectrum of characters at Apiarist Society. Inevitably, on occasion, personalities clash and there are vigorous philosophical discussions about the right way to bee.
Indeed, there are many ways to get beekeeping right and some very certain ways to create an unmitigated disaster.
Some advice I got was just gold, and some of it was contradictory, or even utterly bonkers. Being a new beekeeper is a bit like being a new parent in that regard. It’s all very interesting, sometimes overwhelming. But any sensible beekeeper will tell you to take it slow, learn all you can, be willing to experiment and expect the unexpected.
I have my own way of taking care of my hive. I’m open to learning new ideas, but I have formed my own boundaries. My hives are chemical free. My bees don’t eat sugar. I will act to prevent my hive from swarming. I will not put up with an aggressive hive.
Beekeeping practices can be quite local, even within the same state. While it’s lovely to go online and discover all there is to know about the ravages of verroa, the perils of marauding skunks and bears, or how to keep a hive alive while buried in 10 feet of snow, I simply don’t have any of those issues, thank goodness.
Yet none of the bee books I read advised on how to help a hive in the throes of 45 degree celsius heatwave. Or why you shouldn’t immediately worry if there are no eggs or larvae during a summer inspection because sometimes the queen will have a break from laying if she knows a hot spell is approaching. Also, I learned to keep a bit of honey on the hive in summer in readiness for the summer dearth, when our hot easterly winds literally strip nectar from the blooms and make the bees cranky. I have never found a text that has been able to guide me through the unique problems a robustly healthy, thriving hive can deliver. I got all that information from chatting to people at the Apiarist Society.
Every month, I learn something new. I will always “bee learning”.
Since I became a member, our club has doubled in size in a few short years. You could argue that “save the bees” are to the twenty-tens as “save the whales” were to the nineties. Bees are becoming fashionable. (Which is a good thing, and a bad thing, but more about that in another post.)
The Flow Hive is still being discussed with equal parts enthusiasm and concertation. We have a few top-bar hiver’s, but mainly Langstroths are the go.
So I urge you, check out your local bee club or Apiarists society. And If you are in Perth, Western Australia, checkout our bee-club, WAAS. We meet the first Thursday of the month, at the South Perth Community Centre. Our first meeting of the year is tomorrow night, I hope to see you there!
Sure, we may seem to be a bit of an odd lot at first. Persist. I have met interesting people and made new friends.
Don’t be shy, ask questions and be assured every beekeeper LOVES to talk about their bees. We may even want to show you photos of our hives or invite you along to an inspection. WAAS even runs the occasional class and mentorship initiatives.
What about you? Do you go to a bee club? I would love to hear from you!