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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

I am precariously close to starting a new Beekeepers Association. The first meeting is in a couple of weeks and hope to gather some knowledge on what has worked well for others on starting up an association. A few things I could use some guidance on, is how you initially got the ball rolling as far as leadership, and dues to make some initial decisions. I will be the first to admit this is a bit overwelming and I want to insure that it is successful. The goals I would like to see accomplished is for the more experienced beekeepers to help and guide and mentor the newest beekeepers, and a place to openly discuss any topic of beekeeping without being intimidation and afraid to ask questions of the more seasoned beekeepers.

Some of the things I would like to see is bringing in guest speakers on a variety of subjects, visits to side-liner or commercial apiaries, a smaller/portable extractor for the folks with a couple of hives to rent at a minimal fee, and mentorship of the beekeepers who would appreciate a little guidance. This is no different I'm sure than the way most other associations were started. Any suggestions as far as Mission Statements, Structure, Tax Status, and Association Bylaws would be greatly appreciated. I would welcome any and all information on what has worked for others.

Thanks, Ron
 

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I sent you a private message with a portion of a document that I had sent to another person starting an association. Maybe some of it will give you some ideas.
 

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I have been involved with setting up a couple. Here are some tips.

1. Have reliable meeting date, time and place and stick to it.
2. Don't start off with a lot of formalities like strict adherence to Roberts Rules of Order. Keep it informal and comfortable to get started. Eventually you may need rules, by laws, etc to get business done.
3. Keep dues to a bare minimum until you get up and going. Try raffling donated items to raise money. Folks who whine about $15 per year dues will gladly fork over $5 or $10 per month for a chance to win donated "stuff" or 50/50 drawings.
4. Contact your state association for support. Make an announcement at the next state meeting. They may even help with some "getting started money".
5. A well advertised beginners course will draw a crowd that can be a great source of new members. Keep the cost minimal or even free if you can get volunteers to teach the basics.
6. Publicly recognize folks attending for the first time. If they feel welcome, they are more likely to return.
 

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It would depend on how organized you want to bee....you can go the cheap cheap route, and try to organize on volunteers and a .....shoestring, or have a plan right from the start.

For much of this, you don't have to re-invent the wheel..take a look at other associations sites and see what they are doing...

http://nebraskabeekeepers.org/

Do you want to be a "club" or an "association"...generally if you take the folks money, develop programs, etc. as you seem to indicate, you have a fiduciary responsibility to members and that's where state registration as an Association and all the structure comes in: bylaws, mission statement, credentialing programs for beekeepers...its a lot of decision and a big time commitment, but can be rewarding if you have clear goals set and everyone is willing to commit the time. Check in with other associations and see what their struggles were/are and how they dealt with them...small steps, it will take time.
 

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You can always start (and maybe even stay) just an informal gathering. The only real gain by being an official organization is to have a treasury so you can plan and pay for events. When you are ready to do something like that, you might want to draw up some by-laws. As already mentioned, I think doing a long "Robert's Rules of Order" meeting is the death stroke for a bee club. You may want to do that once a year for elections etc. or when something that costs a lot of money is being decided, but otherwise no one wants to spend several hours listening to the reading of last weeks minutes, the treasury report etc. They want to talk about bees and beekeeping.

The dues at our club were really set up to pay for mailing out the newsletter. I think only three or four people actually get it mailed anymore, and the rest are email so I no longer see the point. Our club makes it's money at the State fair selling honey and honey ice cream, not on dues. I think the dues just get in the way of people coming, not to mention they are one more thing to keep track of.
 

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A consistent meeting place (even if someone's home) is good and share the leadership load - it will take more than one person to run things. People are eager to volunteer their time IF they see their time being used well.

As for informal club vs Association - much depends on if you want to get a bank account for the group - for that you'll need a Federal ID number and from there it is a short journey to official status with both your state and the feds.

Good luck!

I 2nd the idea of a bee school as recruits for a club!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
A good portion of the beekeepers interested came out of a beekeeping classes I taught and another beekeeper class she taught. There was great turnout for both my classes as well as hers, and one of the things they all wanted to see was a club / association started in our area as the closest one is the Nebraska Beekeepers Association and its 100 miles away, which I belong to. I don't want to detract from them, as they do a lot of good.

I am trying to get as many perspectives on this as possible. It will ultimately be up to the members as to decide what direction they want to go. My goal is to help provide the knowledge and support to have successful beekeepers, to promote bees and educate the public.

Ideally the meetings would be freer flowing and fun, the last thing I want to have happen is to have too many constraints minimizing what this should really be about. But at the same time I would like to see speakers brought in and purchases made to help out the smaller beekeeper. So there may need some basic structure to handle the money if we are going to bring in speakers and if nothing else pay for their fuel.
 

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Your idea for a extractor is a good one...it is a huge benefit for a new or even smaller op's hobbyist for the expense. Our club is set up on the local Ag school University extension campus. They often have excess or unused buildings and are happy to have a group in. If you can get anywhere near a set up like that, you can even consider a full on Honey House for the runs....those are the kinds of support things to do for the membership and a good use for the funds collected.
 

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one of the things they all wanted to see was a club / association started in our area as the closest one is the Nebraska Beekeepers Association and its 100 miles away, which I belong to. I don't want to detract from them, as they do a lot of good.
Maybe they would consider a satellite organization. You and your wife could be the representatives. That way the club members skip all the formalities. Trying to attract a well known speaker to a small community is not economically possible. But organizing a van or limo run to a large community is very easy. Everyone going to a bee class is bright eyed and enthusiastic about bees. That doesn't mean they will have the same enthusiasm about the commitment of a club or association.
 
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