What Services Should An Association Offer Its Members? by Robin Dartington

Forming a new organisation to run the Hitchin Community Bee Garden is an opportunity to define the services that aspiring beekeepers need under modern conditions. Here is a first list. How does that compare with your local association? More suggestions, please!

The merely interested:
One-to-one introductory talk; a first experience with handling bees; all questions answered; advice on how to go further.

Training course; loan of trial hive; advice on buying equipment; matching buyers and sellers of used equipment; help with finding a site; supply of a nuc; mentoring; liability insurance.

Regular (weekly) demonstrations at a central apiary of the seasonal tasks; trouble shooting improvers’ problems; lease of extraction room; structured winter lecture meetings.

Reference library; matching tutors to candidates for BBKA modules; arrangements for taking exams.

Regular beekeepers:
Bulk collection of wax for conversion to foundation; supply of frames/foundation/jars/ varroa treatments; supply of BBKA/DEFRA leaflets; annual review of the association’s written policies and programmes at AGM; social opportunities to visit and meet other members; co-ordination of car-sharing to beekeeping events; emergency cover (inspection of hives when a member is ill or away); 2nd opinion on suspect disease; co-ordination of visits by Bee Inspector; bulk collection of surplus (jarred) honey for central sales; annual high-level bee lecture as a contribution to a co-ordinated programme of Spring Bee Days shared with neighbouring associations (say Middlesex/Herts/Beds/Bucks/Cambs).

Distressed public:
Nominated Swarm Collection Officers; advisory service on problems with bees in wrong places; advice on bee stings.

National infrastructure for beekeeping:
Co-ordinated representation of views to BBKA/DEFRA; support for nation-wide PR campaigns and recruitment strategies; support for national research programmes.

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