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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Hartville, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Starting a new club

    I live in a rural area without a local beekeeping club. There is one in a large city about 50 miles away in which I am a member. I have thought about starting a local club, and was wondering if anyone here has done that or has any suggestions. I thought about posting on Craigslist, and putting up fliers in the local stores. The big questions would be where to meet, and would we have to have any kind of insurance? I am by no means an expert beekeeper--do you think a club should be started by someone at an advanced or master level? Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,443

    Default Re: Starting a new club

    I started a club for my county a bit less than a year ago. I've since learned that there was a previous club 25 years or so ago and that there are a bunch of people keeping bees in this area but flying under the radar. I have an advantage in that I am an at-large board member of my state bee organization (MSBA) and on a first name basis with our state apiarist. I started with a list of registered beekeepers in my county (maybe 5) and sent letters to them, to the newspapers and everyone who might have anything to do with honey bees at Cooperative Extension or the local University. (University of Maine at Machias)

    Based on what little feedback I had, I decided to offer a beginning bee school through cooperative extension and make everyone who took the class a charter member of the club. It has been very slow going and I feel like I'm pulling teeth to get things rolling. We will do another bee school this winter - but what we are finding is that our county is large enough that people are not willing to travel for a meeting. Our last meeting for example featured a very knowledgeable speaker on bee forage - we had six people attend including myself and a prospective club member. A bunch of effort went in to that meeting and the low turnout has taken the wind out of my sails and has me scratching my head wondering just how I'm supposed to make this club work.

    One disadvantage that I have is that my wife and I are new to this area and for an area where locals can trace generations of locally living ancestors that is a big deal. (If a cat has kittens in the oven, that doesn't make them biscuits!)

    My advice is to check with your state organization to see what help they can give you with getting started. You may find that as we do in Maine, the state organization carries liability insurance that extends to the Chapters in defined instances. They should also be able to help you with things like bylaws and speakers too.

    I am not a Master Beekeeper though I am working toward achieving that designation. More than book learning I think it important to try to see things somewhat objectively and not jump on the latest fad because it seems cool.

    What makes clubs sing and dance is an involved membership with a shared passion for bees. Give people a reason to join your club - access to a club extractor, a mentoring program, a club apiary. Maybe a lending library of videos. When you are just starting out the opportunity to talk with other people who tend stinging insects is huge! Most of all it should be fun.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA, USA
    Posts
    137

    Default Re: Starting a new club

    All good ideas. Our club started 3 years ago. We had some help from the cooperative extension agent and are using County meeting space. Several experienced beekeepers from our county and surrounding counties spoke the first year. A good bit of membership/attendance churn as folks are busy -- some try and quit the club, some just don't get to many meetings due to other activities. There is also a 4-H youth beekeeping group, which we have encouraged and supported.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    carney, maryland, USA
    Posts
    448

    Default Re: Starting a new club

    Good luck HOMESTEADER!

    Phil

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,447

    Default Re: Starting a new club

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    there are a bunch of people keeping bees in this area but flying under the radar.
    They probably want to stay clear of you because you will force your doctrine on them.

    Homesteader, any club is better than no club. Keep an open mind about beekeeping practices and everyone can learn from one another. Mistakes will be made but so what. A common goal of enjoying beekeeping is all you need.

    Good luck.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,997

    Default Re: Starting a new club

    > They probably want to stay clear of you because you will force your doctrine on them.

    Huh.

    I can't imagine who it was that said this, just yesterday:
    Try to support a thread more instead of tearing people up.



    Our local club (Davy Crockett Beekeepers Association) meets for free at the local Farm Bureau office. We have a couple of teaching hives that are located at a research/teaching farm operated by the University of Tennessee Extension. I am sure that the club itself does not purchase insurance of any kind.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

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