Joining a beekeeping club is one of the greatest ways to connect, network and grow as a beekeeper. I tend to be a bit more of an introvert when it comes to being new in a group. However, when I attended my first meeting at the Ann Arbor Backyard Beekeepers club (A2B2), I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to be there. Every month there were at least two topics covered. They often were on subjects that I either really wanted to learn about or, had no idea that I needed to learn, but found great applications upon hearing them. Surrounding yourself with beekeepers of all levels is a tremendous benefit. Of course, you can glean information from the experienced beekeepers but, there is a lot to learn just by discussing with a peer what you’re seeing in your hives or what goals you’re wanting to pursue. A bee club provides that face to face platform that you’re not going to easily find elsewhere. Networking is not only important but easy in the beekeeping community. It’s rare to find such a warm community who is eager to develop their young. And, people are always sharing resources. Beekeeping can be pretty lonely when you have a pressing question or you are in need of a queen or a frame of brood and you have no one to call.The A2B2 Club, along with many others, have a great mentorship program. New beekeepers are connected with more advanced beekeepers who can be just that person for them. The mentors are eager to lend a hand or give advice. And to a new beekeeper, that can mean the world!
So, wherever you’re at, take a look for a bee club near you. You will find that it is one of your most valuable assets. Most are free to attend but for a membership fee of $15.00 or so, there are a lot of benefits. The $15.00 helps the clubs serve their members. The value is not only in being a part of a great community.
Members get first preference for joining bee schools, get to participate in bulk discounts on equipment and bees and free educational opportunities. And that all makes for a sound investment! The Michigan Beekeeper’s Association website is a great resource for finding a club near you. If you’re not in a club, take a chance and get to a meeting sometime! It’s a great way to stay connected in the bee world.
By the way, the bees in the photos are "festooning". Scientists don't seem to have all agreed upon what the actual purpose of this behavior is. Some theorize that the bees are making a scaffolding upon which they secrete and pass wax for building comb.
Another theory is that they regulate temperature within the hive and are maintaining a consistent temperature as they form and draw out comb. Whatever they're doing, I find it quite fascinating! One thing most scientists do agree upon is that this behavior occurs while comb is being made. So, if you are in your hives and you see this behavior, you can be pretty certain that good things are happening and that your bees are probably building comb. Take a moment to admire yet another facet of these incredible creatures. And, remember the importance of staying connected!
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