President’s Message – August 2016

Greetings BC beekeepers! Since our spring meeting in Kamloops, actual beekeeping has become a priority for many of us, and we have had to make an effort to take care of the business of our Association. Most of the “to do” items from motions at last fall’s AGM have been completed or launched this spring. The new website has been launched with several new features, including presentations from past Education Days and back issues of BeesCene. We’ll continue to work to make it a good source of beekeeping knowledge and current topics. There are a number of new members, some from introductory beekeeping courses given this year by graduates of the BCHPA Certified Instructors course.

This spring, a major colony inspection for Small Hive Beetle in the Fraser Valley yielded only one new find. Hopefully this pest will not become a problem in our conditions. We arranged IPM sessions throughout the province to inform beekeepers on what we know about the Small Hive Beetle. About 400 people have attended so far, and other sessions will be held with field days. Continued vigilance and increased knowledge is certainly called for.

Several national beekeeping issues of concern to commercial beekeepers are unfolding. On the positive side, winter losses of colonies in Canada were the lowest in several years (while losses in USA continue to be high), and bee researchers in Canada continue to come up with significant findings to improve beekeeping. On a less positive side, world market forces (it’s complex) have resulted in significantly reduced bulk honey prices for commercial honey producers. Also, there are regulatory changes coming that could reduce beekeeper access to medications for bee disease management, but efforts are underway to reduce the negative effects that could result. Our new membership in the BC Agriculture Council is an opportunity for beekeepers to improve their market access through the “We Heart Local” food program. Check it out to see if it might work for you: Also see their website for an interview I gave in May.

A major effort by the Executive since this spring has been the renewal of our Constitution and Bylaws. This has been quite a task. All members received an email on July 15th, with an attached proposal (also posted on the website). I’ll outline a bit of the reason, process and results of this work, to engage us for this topic at the AGM in October.

Reason:  There has been a change in legislation in BC affecting Societies. The new Societies Act  requirements are not huge, but it meant we had to revisit our Constitution and Bylaws to make them fit with the new legislation. There have also been changes in the way we communicate (the internet, etc.) that were not in effect when the last bylaws were prepared.

Process:  Our bylaws specify that notice of a motion to change the Constitution and Bylaws must be sent to members 90 days in advance of a vote, and that the new version “with or without amendments” must be approved by 75% of those voting at an Annual General Meeting – a rather high threshold of acceptance. To try to get to the best new version, the BCHPA Executive appointed a Constitution Committee chaired by Mike Campbell. The Committee’s mandate was to take our old Constitution and Bylaws and amend them to reflect current realities, and to meet the requirements of the new legislation. To assist in this, an online survey to narrow our understanding of members’ preferences was prepared and made available to all members. This was a short, anonymous survey with no discussion of the pros and cons of each choice; not the ideal situation to make decisions, but a start. The results were advisory and were used to guide the choices made in preparing the proposals. The committee’s draft was considered and finalized by the association Executive, and the resulting proposal sent by the 90 day window. At the AGM, votes on the proposal “with or without amendments” to clarify, expand or restrict the motions proposed, will be held.

Results:  Over the years, the Association has encountered people who were looking for the Association “representing beekeepers in BC”, rather than “only honey producers”; an increased demand for pollination, and interest in beginning beekeeping, have continued to fuel this trend.

The first proposal is to consider the change in name of the Association, to “Beekeepers” rather than “Honey Producers”. The second proposal is the Constitution. Essentially, the name and purposes of the Association.

The third part is the Bylaws – how the BCHPA is structured, our branch structure, our relationship with other beekeeping groups in BC, and so on. It takes some reading and there are choices that had to be made in preparing a proposal. Amendments can be presented and it would be best if they were prepared before the meeting, so they can be in good clear form for consideration.

Finally, there is a section that specifies procedures or rules of order for our business meetings. The Executive felt that these could be considered separately from the Bylaws, so they will be voted on in a separate motion.

Such a re-consideration by the membership of our basic structure doesn’t happen very often. It takes considerable time that might be used in more immediate matters, but it is a necessary and important step. There’s a lot of other work underway to make the Richmond AGM in October a top notch event – see details elsewhere in this issue. I hope that I’ll see you in there, and that we’ll all enjoy the results.

Bees Be with You,

Kerry Clark

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