You’ve seen the list of benefits of being a member of CSBA, but what does all of that mean to you as an individual beekeeper? Why do you want to belong to CSBA? Here are the reasons my club is affiliated, and through them, I am a member… Very high on my list of reasons is politics. I really don’t like politics, don’t trust politicians, and don’t want to be forced to try to monitor what is happening in the world of politics and bees. However, politics is important to our bees. This is where regulations are made that affect how poisons (otherwise known as pesticides) are used in our world and on our food. Governing bodies also make rules regarding whether we can even keep bees, where we can do so, how many we can keep, how we move them, how we sell honey and products from the hive, and so on. We need someone watching out for us, our bees, our food, and our livelihoods, and that is one thing CSBA does for us. Even when we have a board of directors who aren’t particularly politically involved, our legislators know where to find information and help on these questions because CSBA exists. Also, when we as individuals each put a little bit of money in the pot, then CSBA can financially support other organizations that are affecting politics in our region, like Pollinators and People Action Network, The Pollinator Stewardship Council, the American Beekeeping Federation, and the American Honey Producers Association.
Just as an example, the last time I tuned in to honey politics, both the ABF and the AHPA were working with the government to reduce the amount of fake honey coming in that reduces the price of our real honey. This is important! There was also a labeling question: the government was trying to make honey labels say, “added sugars” when there is not added sugar in honey. Just this reason is enough for me to always make sure that I support CSBA financially through my local bee club. Our legislators know these are important questions, because our membership numbers say that there are a lot of us beekeepers. Both regional clubs and the state beekeepers association need those numbers of registered members, they give us beekeepers a real voice in important decisions that affect us and our bees. Every person counts!
Likewise, because of the Colorado State Beekeepers Association, there is a great web page where really good information can be found by beekeepers, and by the general public. When someone is having an issue with “bees” (whether they are actual bees or wasps) they look online for a solution, and they find the answers they need, and contacts for the people who can take care of the bees quickly and easily. This is where the state supported swarm hotline comes in (and it isn’t cheap). CSBA doesn’t tell my club how to run their swarm hotline, but directs callers to our dispatcher. I know this works, because I get calls that should go to a club that isn’t on the hotline because they aren’t affiliated. I also get more calls from people in my area who found my contact information on the CSBA web site, although my regional bee club has a great web page and two Facebook pages.
When a beekeeper needs to find a source of nucs in their area, or a beekeeper to speak at a school or public event, they look online and CSBA comes right up. And, because you belong to CSBA, you help support this source of information, and you get to take advantage of the fact that there are people who volunteer for the state bee association to answer the phone, so you don’t have to. We also have volunteers who organize those speakers for schools and events. We have lists of speakers to help groups find the education they need, whether they are beekeepers or non-beekeepers. Without me or you, the CSBA would still be there, the website would still be there, but we would be taking advantage of it without contributing, and I hate to be called a free-loader! The promotion of bee and pollinator health is an important function of both the Colorado State Beekeepers Association, and your regional bee club.
Education is another thing that a bee club provides for its members. I enjoy and learn a lot from my local bee club, but there is even more that can be had from CSBA. At our summer meeting, we have great speakers on subjects your local club might not think about, and with speakers that the local club might never have heard of or might not be able to afford. We also do cool, fun, and important hands-on workshops available to everyone at the summer meeting. Where else can you see a bee hospital yard and learn about how to recognize bee diseases and what to do about them? Remember learning to mark queens a couple of years ago, practicing on someone else’s drones? These events are at very low cost to members, so there is a financial advantage as well.
Another way the state bee association supports your local bee club in education is with the Traveling Road Show. My local club does hands-on workshops in bee hives, but it is great that CSBA will send someone to further our education, or teach us to raise queens, which is the option my bee club has chosen for this summer. It is really good to hear a different point of view, from someone with different experiences than bee club leadership might have. There is so much to learn! Why would we limit ourselves to just our bee club president? (And why should that person have to do all the work?)
Through CSBA, we have the Colorado Master Beekeepers Program. This is a great educational opportunity available only to members of CSBA, and lots of fun besides. Through it, our state gains better beekeepers and healthier bees, and well-educated regional bee club members, a real benefit for all of the beekeepers in all of the clubs that have members participating. One valuable benefit of membership in CSBA is the scholarship program, whereby each affiliated club can nominate members from their club for a scholarship. Each club gets one-time scholarships for each of the four levels in the Master Beekeeper Program (not 4 scholarships each year for each club, just 4 scholarships one time per club). Many clubs have not taken advantage of this benefit, so there are a lot of scholarships left. If you are interested, apply for nomination with your bee club Board of Directors.
I could go on and on about how we help your regional bee club and why it is important for each beekeeper in the state of Colorado to belong to CSBA, but you can see that big, long list for yourself, and just the points I’ve made here are plenty of reasons to make sure your regional club is affiliated with CSBA, or to join as an individual if necessary. Regional bee clubs need to have their new 2022 member rosters sent in to our secretary by April 1st so we can take registrations for the upcoming summer meeting in Rifle. We are also being forced to cull our mailing list, so if you don’t want to miss the twice monthly newsletters and beekeeping tips, better get on the list!