From the President May 2016
It’s easy to feel positive when things are going well. The past winter was a mild one throughout BC with better winter survival of colonies than in recent years. Spring is an encouraging time of renewal and growth for bee colonies, especially with record breaking warm weather in most areas of the province. Mostly a benefit so far, but the unusual warm temperatures may change the usual progression of blooming dates, or result in drought or extreme events. It’s a good opportunity to take some notes for comparison to future years.
First Vice President Jeff Lee did a first class job while I was away in Africa, reflected in the last issue of BeesCene. For those who didn’t see my presentation at the meeting in Kamloops, you will soon have an opportunity to view it along with all the educational talks, on our website. In short, the project to enable better beekeeping in small villages seemed to have success simply (?) in demonstrating that with planning and knowledge of bee biology, colonies (even those from Africa) can be gently inspected, managed and guided toward better production. Time will tell how effective that will be.
Our semi-annual meeting March 11/12 in Kamloops was well attended. The online survey of attendees (Thanks! to those of you who replied) confirmed that the quality of educational presentations was high and well appreciated.
One of the business topics introduced was Constitution and Bylaw renewal, and consideration of a change in name for our association. A change in legislation has made Constitution renewal necessary and we are taking the opportunity to consider adjustments that may serve us well into the future. At the time our association was formed, feral bee colonies were relatively common. The public’s vision of “bees” may have been “sting” and “honey”. At the time, it was good to focus on the positive, to identify ourselves as “honey producers”. Since Varroa, unmanaged honey bees are mostly gone. The importance of beekeeping/pollination as the spark that enables a good part of our food supply and contributes to the health of our environment has risen in society’s perception. We are often asked: who represents the “beekeepers” of BC, as opposed to the “honey producers”? Perhaps it’s time to be more inclusive in our name and go with the “Beekeepers” identification. Over 70 % of respondents from the semi-annual expressed such a preference. The question was asked of all members in another online “advisory” survey starting early May, and will be decided at the AGM. Over the years, our bylaws have served well enough, allowing various executive teams to carry on the business of our association between general meetings. Those bylaws were created in a different context: communication was technologically a challenge. It may have been expedient to assign a great deal of power to one person, to avoid delays on decisions from mail deliveries, in-person meetings or one-on-one phone calls. Today, communication technology can be much stronger, enabling a more consultative, collaborative and cooperative team, stronger in being less vulnerable to problems arising from any one of us acting in isolation. The opportunity to have our bylaws reflect this change is here. Please check in this issue, for the Notice of a vote at October’s AGM to renew the constitution and bylaws. In early May you received an email survey, the results of which will allow our Constitution Committee to refine the membership’s preferences for a proposal to be emailed to each member by mid-July, posted on our website and voted on at the AGM. Please reply. If we get the proposal right, acceptance by the required 75+ % of those voting may come easy.
SHB Small Hive Beetle has become a factor for beekeepers in the Fraser Valley, affecting the biosecurity of moving bees between districts, but we don’t know how much of a problem it may become. We’ve had a positive and productive dialogue with Paul van Westendorp, with details to be announced in his report elsewhere in this issue.
May 29 is Day of the Honey Bee. Try to find a way of promoting awareness of honey bees in your community, and ways that everyone can make the environment better for both bees and people.
With our membership in BC Agriculture Council, all of us now have access to the “We heart local” program: www.weheartlocalbc.ca/ Check it out, download the app, and look into registering your location or adding your profile to give your customers better access to your products. We have given beekeeping information and recipes to the program, but if anyone wants to carry it further, please be in touch!
Planning is well underway for our Annual meeting in Richmond: business Friday October 14, and Educational days: Saturday 15 and Sunday 16. For part of the program there will be a choice of presentations for Commercial vs. non-commercially-oriented beekeepers. I’m already looking forward to it. My Best wishes to you and your bees for the upcoming summer. Bees be with you.
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Dawson Creek, BC