Flow’s guide to navigating bee clubs
Are you a newbee or thinking of becoming a beekeeper? We have a ton of resources available and a new online beekeeping course to help you get started. We also recommend joining your local beekeeping club or group, as the experienced members should have a wealth of beekeeping knowledge specific to your local area, and it will be the best place to go for advice on how to keep your colony happy and healthy. They are also a great place to connect with local bee supplies and the best local suppliers for your new hive.
Beekeepers tend to be passionate, opinionated folk, and, like joining any sort of community, it can take time to really get to know how to get the best out of your club experience.
Over the years beekeeping clubs have given us a few tips on how to navigate a new bee club – so hopefully you’ll be beekeeping with confidence in no time!
Clubs are often run on a volunteer basis. Most people also have busy lives in addition to their roles within the club, so be aware that they’re giving their time generously! This can sometimes result in things moving a bit slowly within the club. If you are in a hurry to get started you might reach out to a local beekeeping mentor or beekeeping course to fast track your learning.
If you have a bit of time, then there’s no better way to get completely immersed in a club than to start volunteering yourself – just like a beehive (or the bumblebees in the photo below), many hands make light work.
Approach meetings with an open mind
Every club will have a different way of sharing beekeeping knowledge.
Long term beekeepers often have a lot of valuable information to share, but some can take time to warm up :)... Some may not communicate in a way that you’re familiar with – they may share their knowledge sparingly, sometimes only after building trust with you. This may mean working physically alongside them and helping out at the beeclub hives.
Other beekeepers are more than happy to share their knowledge and may even offer to come and help out with your hives in a one-on-one bee-mentorship.
Most beekeepers have lots of incredible knowledge to share – be on the lookout for those whose teaching style suits you and your learning style best. And be willing to adjust your approach to suit.
Enthusiasm is great! Sometimes…
Having a million and one questions when you’re first learning about bees is 100% normal and definitely encouraged.
Though, you may need to gauge how receptive members are to questions.
For some members, the beekeeping club has been a place to be social, where they’ve developed relationships over many years and where they feel connected with people who understand them. Sometimes the presence of newbees may dilute the sense of connection the long term members had valued. Keep in mind that your eagerness may be quite overwhelming for them.
This doesn’t mean you need to mute your enthusiasm! Try searching out for those who are forthcoming with their support, and maybe treading lightly and kindly around those who are not.
Don’t let anyone squash your excitement about bees. These fascinating creatures are literally the bee's knees, and your enthusiasm can be the kindling to reignite others’ passions.
Established clubs often have long-standing club politics – our best recommendation is to avoid being involved if possible.
You’re there to learn about bees :) Feel free to join in on club discussions, volunteer your time, or participate in extracurricular activities; this is where the best learning is to be had.
New ideas can sometimes go against the flow ;)
It’s pretty understandable that after doing things a certain way for a long time, people are probably going to form strong opinions that are hard to change.
When Flow Hives burst onto the scene in 2015, there were many long-term beekeepers who were sceptical that they would work and somewhat threatened by this ‘new way’ of harvesting. It is still common to find some long term beekeepers who are confronted by the new technology.
This is something to bear in mind when suggesting new ideas – if they are initially dismissed, it’s fine to question why they think your ideas won’t work.
The old adage says, “Ask two beekeepers and receive three different opinions!”
Remember that at the end of the day you are there to begin your exciting journey of learning about bees, and the methods of keeping bees (whether in a Flow Hive or not). All that differs is the way in which you harvest honey. Everyone has their preferences – we can only marvel at the huge variety of ways that people choose to keep bees!
Of course, it can be frustrating when opinions are not based on a strong understanding of the incredible and successful beekeepers in the Flow community.
Some difficult comments you may come across:
- “Flow promotes easy or lazy beekeeping”
- It’s easy to confuse Flow’s simple harvesting method with easy beekeeping. To combat this fallacy, Flow has created loads of free educational resources, well in excess of most beekeeping stores.
- Flow offers post-purchase emails and physically provides information with all purchases reminding customers of the care and responsibility required.
- Flow Hive’s co-inventor Cedar, takes time out every week to demonstrate beekeeping methods on Facebook live, to teach and answer questions about caring for your bees.
- “The products won’t work..”
- The Flow Hive is now used by over 70,000 people worldwide, with success in every climatic region.
- “Inexperienced Flow beekeepers are going to neglect colonies and spread diseases”
- New beekeepers are just that, new :) This is a possibility for all new beekeepers and highlights why it is so important for beekeeping communities to help support and nurture new beekeepers into responsible beeks. Flow provides a lot of educational resources, however, bee clubs are really essential for making sure new beekeepers get the practical training they need to be successful.
We hope you really enjoy your beekeeping club experience (we love working with our partner clubs!) But remember, if you find individual attitudes particularly challenging, it’s okay to leave, or look for another group – you might also like to consider starting your own community. We also have a Flow Forum and FB group which can be a handy place to find supportive mentors.
Not a total newbee? Let us know whether you have any tips to add for newly-emerged bee-fans!