Beekeeping Associations: Why You Should Join
Do you need to join a beekeeping association? Well, if you are a beekeeper, there are some compelling reasons to consider joining. Local beekeeping associations can be found in every state of the US. They provide a network of support for thousands of American beekeepers. A valuable resource that provides help with all areas of managing honey bees.
What is a Beekeeping Association?
The size of a beekeeping group can vary greatly. Some are large groups that boast thousands of members. These groups may hold meetings twice a month.
Some of them hold several classes for new beekeepers each year (especially state’s beekeeper association). Others provide special education days in the apiary or a local bee yard for hands on opportunities.
In rural areas, bee clubs tend to be much smaller. A local beekeeping association may consist of a smaller group of 5-10 friends.
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Perhaps they meet once a month to discuss their hives. They are no less passionate about bees and offer some valuable information.
The structure of a beekeeping group varies depending on the location. Most states of the United States have one state association that serves as a hub.
Then, smaller clubs serve the local communities and are often (but not always) are an outreach of the state group.
They follow similar guidelines and through cooperation share resources providing educational opportunities for new beekeepers. State and local beekeeping associations are also involved in public outreach.
This may be holding various “bee day” events or sponsoring a booth at the local Fair. Members often “man” these events and are often given the opportunity to sell honey from their hives.
Advantages of Joining a Bee Club
So why join your local beekeeping club? Well, why not. Yes, it is common for association to charge a small year member fee. But, the advantages of having a circle of local bee friends is well worth the cost. Most groups also allow non-members to attend before they join.
- free training
- local information about forage
- local climate issues that affect bees
- friends to share resources
In general, at each meeting a small program is presented on a variety of topics important to beekeepers. There is also a time to ask questions about any problems you may be having with your hives.
We learn early on that beekeepers need to know about bee plants in their local area. No one knows this better than those already keeping honey bees where you live. They are able to tell you when the honey flow arrives in your location.
In some regions, special climate conditions play a role in beekeeping. Do you live in an area with bitter cold Winters?
If so, your bees have a better chance of surviving Winter when you leave enough honey on the hive. Your local friends will know what you need to do.
One of the major advantages of joining beekeeping associations is the friends you make. Some provide mentors to new beekeepers – their experience is beyond valuable.
There may come a time when you need to requeen a hive. If no, queens are available for purchase – what can you do?
Perhaps another member of your local association has a frame of brood (with fresh eggs) that you can buy. Now, your hive has the resources to make a queen for themselves.
How to Find a Beekeeping Association Near You
One of the easiest ways to find local beekeepers is to ask. Of course, today may folks ask Google. That’s okay – but if it doesn’t yield the results you want – ask at the local garden center or farm supply.
Another good way to find beekeepers near you is to start with the regional beekeeping associations. They can then direct you to each state association. State groups keep the contact information for local clubs.
Because the local groups are ran by volunteers – the contact information changes more frequently. Hopefully, your state association can give you the most up to date contact information.
Regional Beekeeping Associations
These bee groups are wonderful resources of training in all areas of hive management. They can serve as a starting point when looking for local beekeepers.
Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS)
Heartland Apicultural Society (HAS)
Western Apicultural Society (WAS)
Industry Leaders in Beekeeping
Another great resource for beekeepers are the groups that focus on beekeeping and/or honey across the United States.
These organizations offer many educational opportunities for members and the public at large. Honey producers are often members of both as healthy bees produce more honey.
American Beekeeping Federation
National Honey Board
While it is not a necessity, being a member of a beekeeping club has it’s benefits. It is the best way to stay up to date on beekeeping practices. As new bee pests, diseases and challenges affect our hives – we need to stay up to date on how to deal with them.
The art of beekeeping is that not everything works every time. It is a learning journey and you must be able to flex as the needs of your hives changes.