It is the year 2020. It is a dark and cold February night. The crowds are pouring into the warm and cosy country bar in Beaufort. It is just like hundreds of foragers coming back from their quest of finding the best source of food. There is a pleasant and exciting atmosphere in the room as everybody is eager to see what will happen on this special night.
Sometime later only a few workers remain in the room of the over seventy beekeepers present that night. The buzz and laughter of the night are still in the air. What a night it was!
On the 6th of February 2020 the Beaufort Beekeepers’ Association hosted the 1st Kerry Beekeepers’ Gathering. The evening with the motto “Show and Tell” was open to all Kerry Beekeeper Associations.
There were also guests and speakers from our friends in Dunmanway, Co. Cork. The overall aim was to bring like-minded people together and talk about practical knowledge and beekeeping techniques. It was a meeting prepared by beekeepers for beekeepers. Nothing fancy just our very own association members sharing their enormous knowledge.
The night itself and the feedback was so tremendous that I thought it was worth while writing about that night. If you want to know more and see some pictures just visit our website.
Let me tell you that this article is not only about our favourite hobby. I am not writing about the complexity of the world of bees, a brood and a half or the best varroa treatment. I am writing about the social importance of beekeeper associations. I write about what you can achieve with a great committee and amazing members and I hope you are inspired to make a change in your association.
It will be worth your while to read on and get active. There will be plenty of creative suggestions and maybe you will share your ideas and experience in the newsletters of 2021.
The Beaufort Beekeepers’ Association was established in 2011 and in the past 9 years we have grown to a group of over 50 beekeepers.
I believe this is a great number considering we have 10 associations in Co. Kerry. The interest in our club is down to the social bond amongst our members. Beekeeping is our joint interest but not the only one. We all like to celebrate and have a laugh, eat good food and have a drink while chatting about bees. This is what you get in our club.
Annually, we have set events of which some have become a tradition. The end of every beekeeping season is celebrated with a decent Christmas Party in December. When I say decent, I mean decent.
We splash out on decoration, food, drink, prizes. There is music, quizzes, honey tasting and honey auctioning. Partners, family members and friends are welcome to join. The nights’ highlight is the honouring of our beekeeper of the year.
Speeches, press and radio coverage come alongside with the presentation of our “John Foley Perpetual Cup”. The cup is a memorial to a past member and is awarded for great support to the club, being the best rookie or any other worthy cause for the Beaufort Beekeepers.
Every member has a chance – in their own way – to be the owner of the cup for one year.
Each pre-season we offer a Beekeeping Beginner Course. There are typically 3 theory sessions and a visit to the apiary. Going forward the courses will be delivered virtually, while COVID-19 requires us to meet apart. We provide 1-2-1 meetings to give beginners a practical session and of course celebrate the completion of the course.
In the past we met in an apiary, organised a talk or demonstration while having a cuppa tea or an Elderflower Cordial. Every beginner gets a certificate and e.g. a voucher for bee supplies.
In the last 2 years we have held raffles and one member per month can win a beekeeping beginner book or a set of frames with wax of their choice. New in 2020 was the introduction of a seasonal photo competition.
Quarterly, the winning entry – judged by the members – is worth a voucher for a local hardware/garden centre and the winners’ photograph is guaranteed to be included in our Honeybee Calendar.
There is a lot more to tell but mentioning ‘Calendar’ brings me to the end of this article. We have created our first own Honey Bee Calendar.
If you are curious visit our website (www.beaufortbeekeepers.org) and see how amazing it turned out. If there are some left you may be in the position to get your hands on one, however we plan to give them free to local schools and raffle them off amongst our members and beginners.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and are keen to make 2021 a real good one. Remember all this is possible during Covid-19. We held all our meetings and beginner courses virtually and the participation was overwhelming. We have organised over 50 prizes for our Christmas Party 2020 and have an online raffle with a gift for each member.
Who knows maybe the 2nd Kerry Beekeepers’ Gathering will take place in some form or shape?
Merry Christmas and a Prosperous Beekeeping Year in 2021.