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Thread: Agm/egm 2014

  1. #1
    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Default Agm/egm 2014

    The SBA's AGM was held in Perth today. I'd have given you live updates only it seemed rude sitting down the front typing into a Blackberry while folk spoke to the assembled masses.

    At the EGM before the AGM the results of the ballot on the dissolution of the old SBA and the formation of a new SCIO-compliant SBA was revealed. Not even the President knew the outcome until he opened an envelope in front of us all. An impressive 61% of the membership responded and overwhelmingly voted yes. Now the Executive will submit their new constitution to the charity regulator, OSCR, and see whether or not they agree it meets the requirements.

    Yes: 781
    No: 32
    Spoiled and ineligible (late) papers: 17

    Main points from the AGM:

    - Phil McA came to the end of his three year term and handed over the Presidency to Bron.
    - Tony Harris takes over from Bron as secretary
    - Alan Riach is now Vice-President
    - I'm back as Bee Health guy
    - Phil Moss will take over editorship from Nigel in July
    - the Northen Area Rep position is now vacant.

    It was a professional and respectful meeting without any of the rancour of the 2013 AGM. Great to see everyone pulling in the same direction.

    Some other things that emerged during the day. Magnus is trying to organise the Scottish participation in a citizen science project related to the European project COLOSS via the University of Gratz. An estimate of the diversity of pollen bees are collecting across Europe. Ewan from Aberdeen University gave us an update on progress with a new approach to Varroa treatment using RNAi, knocking out essential genes very specifically in Varroa. We also discussed some recent activity from some bee entrepreneurs, sadly, so we heard, people who have got into beekeeping enterprise without knowing enough about beekeeping themselves yet who are placing hives in various sensitive locations and encouraging more people into beekeeping without being able to offer adequate support. No, I'm not saying who they are or what was said by whom, but it was pointed out that the SBA should be more proactive trying to protect people from inappropriate activity related to beekeeping. There was also discussion of the issues some local associations face with the tide of new beekeepers and the shortage of experienced beekeepers to help them raise their game.

  2. #2

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    Hi Gavin
    Thanks for the report, the slightly cryptic part about experience and New beekeepers is very pertinent (and has been touched on in a couple of threads here). I would be interested to hear if there were concrete plans for the proactiveness of the SBA on this matter? I know in my area of one such venture

    Sent from my C5303 using Tapatalk

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    No, there was an appeal from a member, one that I disagreed strongly with at the last AGM, that the SBA should not be so quiet on this. I heartily agree, and told him so and thanked him during the break. Most people on here would have been surprised to see that!

    One local association in the area of one of these entrepreneurs has had some interesting interactions with them that revealed very clearly that they don't know what they are doing (other than being very good at attracting funding) and were making claims of collaboration with local beekeepers that were just not true. A large amount of public funding has gone in that direction and folk are unsure what has come out of that.

    It is a difficult issue, this one of trying to reverse the tide of people jumping on bandwagons apparently to make money. Funders, politicians, media, the public have all bought into this business of the bees dying, so they are all susceptible to well-presented stuff about 'doing good' even when it is unlikely to achieve that.

    Letters to the magazine, approaches to SBA office bearers, these are the sorts of things that might prompt some action from the SBA. It is, of course, very difficult to make accusations of people running businesses, but the SBA and indeed local associations could be issuing general warnings about commercial activity that does not seem to involve established beekeepers or beekeeping organisations.

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    I should never post that early on a Sunday! Missed the point completely. Doh! Right, I've had some coffee, experienced and beginner beekeepers.

    Alan Riach did reply that the SBA is aware of this and has introduced an Intermediate part of the education schedule, but I think that the issue is the dearth - in some areas - of experienced beekeepers able and willing to pass on their skills to people who are now beekeepers but with a lot to learn.

    There was talk of developing teaching materials appropriate to Scotland rather than the Course in a Case which seems to have had a mixed reception. Maybe I just should have piped up and said: 'Send them to SBAi!!'

    The whole issue is plagued with problems. In some places little history of association visits to each other's apiaries, one of the best ways of spreading knowledge and allowing people to compare the good and the bad locally. Many experienced beekeepers can't be bothered wasting time teaching newbees (and why should they?!). Where there are experienced beekeepers sometimes they've been alienated by things done in the past. Association apiaries set up against their wishes (worried that their influence may wane?). Imports of non-native bees into association apiaries when that was totally unacceptable to them. That sort of thing.

    I should also repeat that having experience doesn't necessarily mean that the experience is worth passing on. You quite often get bad advice from people with a lot of experience. How do you filter that?

    So what's to be done? That was an appeal from the South of Scotland Beekeepers Association, so if you've got good ideas or have seen some in action, please let's hear them. There are representatives of SSBA reading here, and our Education Convener stops by too from time to time (and can be pointed here if there is useful discussion).

    G.

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gavin View Post
    ...... but the SBA and indeed local associations could be issuing general warnings about commercial activity that does not seem to involve established beekeepers or beekeeping organisations.
    I'm talking to myself now. That approach would have hit these people:

    http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/loc...-award-1.40284

    .. which would have been completely wrong! There were inexperienced yet they approached and were given help by both a prominent poster on here and myself, they became very good beekeepers very quickly, and they eked out a small grant or two on very low wages. There were no clear links to beekeeping organisations and no beekeeping qualifications. This is a really tricky issue.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Gav. I am in NI rather than Scotland but we have similar issues to contend with here.
    My opinion is that our bee exam system is not fit for purpose as it is all about lists and bee facts with a negligible component on beekeeping skills.
    Ruary will likely read this and shoot me down but I have been really surprised at the lack of practical skills in people who have passed the exams. That's not the fault of the new beekeepers. They do what is asked of them but they are just not taught or asked to demonstrate a lot of practical stuff. (Microscopy excepted!)
    Beekeeping is a practical hobby so surely the teaching and development of skills should be top priority.
    It is not unusual here to find that the senior beekeepers in their 70s have never mastered the basics such as swarm control, finding, marking and clipping queens, or queen rearing and some of them are really poor handlers as well.
    Some of them are the apiary managers presumably due to seniority rather than skills.
    A couple of weeks ago one of the other allotment holders came over to me and said he was thinking of keeping a bee hive on his plot.
    He is a guy in his late 50s who has never kept bees and he planned to get the bees from a beekeeper friend in his 80s who said he could learn on the job.
    The location of his plot is completely unsuitable. The combination of a total beginner starting up beekeeping with bees of unknown aggression levels while surrounded by people fills me with dread. I tried to steer him away from this course of action but people are filled with this 'save the bees' nonsense and can't see the downside.
    I have seen quite a few novice beekeepers who have bought or been gifted really aggressive bees from the senior beekeepers.
    I think that in an ideal world bees should be supplied through an association and this should be linked to mentoring. There should be a system in place to ensure quality of the bees supplied.

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    Administrator gavin's Avatar
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    I think you'd be a great choice Kate.

    This issue of training, experience, quality of beekeeping and beekeeping advice is not easy to get right. I reacted yesterday in private when there was loose talk of restricting benefits to those - like me - without any formal beekeeping training. And Jon is right, passing exams does not guarantee beekeeping competence, but I do believe that it helps, on average. Definitely support the idea of an emphasis on the practical side. Definitely support an enhanced effort in education to try to lift the quality of beekeeping in Scotland. I've no idea how you can weed out poor advice when there are people out there (old and young, with or without qualifications) who you would think ought to know their craft well but confidently give out bad advice.

    And on the question of beginners getting truly awful bees from senior beekeepers - I've been there, done that myself. Despite breeding from a calm, nice queen I sold one colony the year before last that was one of the nastiest I've seen when up to full size. It isn't easy raising reliable stocks when you can't control the skies. OK, it is worse when the recipient gets no support, and when the bees were already known to be foul, but you can't always get it right.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    I am pro exams but I think the emphasis should be on practical skills rather than theory.

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    A lot of 'aggression' can be down to the way the bees are handled, too. We learnt the craft in an association that had quite a few feisty colonies so learnt very quickly how to read the bees. Amazing how bees that would 'follow' one day would be perfectly docile on another day. Of course, not everyone has the leisure to come back another day if a gentle knock on the hive produces a discouraging tone from their ladyships but it saves a lot of hassle!

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    Senior Member Bridget's Avatar
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    Our new little association Speybeekeepers suffers from very few experienced beekeepers. We have, one year from starting have 28 members and only Drumgerry has more than A couple of hives. Most of us seem to have been at it about 2-3 years. We know of a few experienced beekeepers in the area who have lost their colonies recently and have now given up. It's tough on Gerry as the burden of answering all our questions falls on him. We are trying to get folk enrolled in the basic beekeeping course and we now have funds to bring in speakers but of course beekeepers are busy in summer and don't want to flog up the A9 to speak to us. We certainly don't have mentors for our beginners but we try to support each other if there are problems.


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