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Heather 

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As with many other Associations we had a demand for swarms from new bee keepers this year. Our policy was that swarms would go to members of our local Assoc, and then only after we has ensured the colony was healthy and queenright.All was fine and we had 40 new members. Come renewal of membership this September about 20 have disappeared.... not replying to any contact.


How do you ensure they stay and don't just use the swarm collection facility you offer. We do stress education is important and teach at every opportunity so it isn't that we don't offer follow up help.
We lose members but I am also worried that they don't have enough experience to be adrift in their first year.

Have other areas had this experience of losing track of new people once you have provided them with a swarm??

Are we missing a 'lock in' small print
 

Hivemaker. 

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I believe some associations let the new beekeepers have some bee's,but they remain in the association apairy for a year or so,tended there by the new beekeepers, under supervision, while they are learning,and they only get to take the bee's home at the end of this period.....if they have learnt enough to be able to look after them properly. You may never hear from them again after this of course....
 
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RoseCottage 

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From 5 to 2 and hopefully a better year
Well our experience is the other side of the coin I guess.

We did a course and then joined the local association. We spent the first year attending ( I even produced the monthly newsletter during that time).

We made some good contacts and went through our first year successfully. We renewed our membership but have stopped going to the local meetings. My work prevents this and our family life is hectic. I guess to the local association we have become all but invisible.

Does that mean we cannot cope without them? I don't think so. I found this forum and receive such wonderful advice that actually I am learning much more from all of you.

Thanks to comments made by Finman, Rab, Hivemaker, Polyhive, Muswell, yourself, and countless others our second year has also been successful and we have learnt Sooo much ( and have Sooo much to learn).

So we would qualify as one of the lost...but we're not, not at all.


BTW, There is only one type of lock-in I like...

all the best,
Sam
 

BBG 

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Polystyrene & lots more next year again hopefully
I think people's priorities change - for a few months it can be intensively learning their new wannadoo (keeping pigs, chickens, allotments - even bees!) so that they do it correctly.

As they feel confident, they just keep a hand on the tiller so to speak and ensure they're up to speed only asking for help if they need it.

It has been said on here that newbies at associations should "roll their sleeves up and pitch in". Hmmm:

A friend went along to meetings and on the third occasion was asked to go and dig the garden and tidy up.

There were nearly twenty old members there who allowed the newbie to spend an hour and a half at the toil even forgetting a call for coffee they all enjoyed together.

The reason: "We, haven't been able to get around to it this year".

Let's see, around three hundred members have been unable to keep the apiary garden up to scratch this current year and it's left to a third time newbie! - Goodbye!

Life is different for a great many people than it was for the generally older members of associations for one. That is, the idea of having to spend "Two Years before the mast" doesn't figure any more. People want it now, injected at high speed without let or hindrance.

Which brings me, and another poster, to the internet. Post on here and you have experts at your fingertips who will discuss and ratify your problem.

Take a photograph if that's relevant and within an hour of taking the pic, get an accurate result with relevant advice. On top of that, there will be follow up (I'm sure??!!) to discover the conclusion and satisfactory diagnosis.

The joys of video give the whole thing a 'live' element.

Anyway 50% take up isn't bad considering the busy lives people live. Those that have the time stay but for those that don't, there maybe other influences. As someone said on here recently, they were ignored by members of the club they had joined and they lost heart.

Unfortunately, cliques exist in these places as others and it can be impossible to break in; most don't even bother but walk. Fuel and time to get and spend there are in short supply too.

Well, I've had the phone call I was waiting for and am off to bed for a few hours, so I'll leave my thoughts on here for contemplation - or worse.

'Lock in' - people are punished enough through life without joining to get some more when they come to the font to receive knowledge that should give them peace.
 

Poly Hive 

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My thought Heather is to say yes we will help you get bees but not in your first year.

KISS

BBG? Name and shame. That is taking the proverbial.

PH
 

Heather 

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I meant 'lock in' in the nicest possible way- more a loyalty bond.

We helped them at every turn - try to include them at every meeting= (it has mostly been the Secretary and I doing the weeding at the nettled apiary (we leave loads for the butterflies before you shout). bee-smillie

There are a couple of committee members who just drink the tea- but that will be addressed.....

Must just put it down to natural loss.... shame.
 

Black Comb 

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I don't think there is much you can do about this other than hold interesting meetings and perhaps "improvers" courses for second and third year beeks.


The two clubs I belong to seem to get about 30 -40% turnout for each meeting.
 

Brosville 

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I think there's a point that's being overlooked, which should be considered.
I fully understand and sympathise with Heather's point, and can fully understand her reasons for making it with a clear conscience (I'm sure that her local association is very "ethical" in it's dealings) - BUT, (and I think it's a fairly large "but"), how come a minority association "reduces wild creatures into their possession", and then holds them to ransom, and insists that in return for taking them on, a beekeeper has to sell their soul to a totally amoral association, and by joining, add their good name, funding and support to a bunch of scurrilous finaglers?
I would also point out that top bar hive users are much in favour of starting with swarms rather than a "nuke"- and they are the least likely to be members of the associations because of this ongoing chemical company sell-out............. so is this way of doing things entirely ethical? (especially as 2/3 of beekeepers are outside the association) - one could view it as another bit of "you can only get insurance from us" arm twisting (the ONLY reason many are members)
One could also reasonably argue that although the law allows this, 2/3 of the bees have come from those outside the association, and if we're going to be entirely fair, should stay within that section of beekeepers............
 

Frithgar 

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I was a member of my local association several years ago, after a break from bee keeping I cam back this spring ready to go again.

My local association has differant people running it now and these people seem to focus on less important issues, such as who makes the supper and what food should be available.

I don't want to attend beekeeping meetings where the focus is all on what you get to eat, the discussions focus on things rarely bee related and I was told when I went along to a meeting "We don't expect you to cook lots of food when it's your turn to hold the meeting, but some effort is required." When I explained that I couldn't hold meetings at my house as it's too small, I have two young children who take up valuable space and a wife who is ill (she's got something that will last her whole life, I'm not going into it). The response I got was "well you'll need to sort something out, maybe hire a small marquee to put up near your beehives and we can hold it there".

I didn't bother going back again. :leaving:

There is a good association about 25 miles away from me but it's a fair bit of traveling and I don't really have the time to attend. I've made sure that my parents small-holding insurance covers the bees (where I keep them) and all bee related items and I've found this wonderful forum for problems and advice.

If you're keeping a certain number of members each year then you're doing something right. As has already been said I would think that a lot of people want an intensive introduction and then want to try and go it alone, doing things that way may not be for everyone, but some people enjoy things more trying to do it themselves, figuring out the problems as they go.
 

rolande 

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All was fine and we had 40 new members. Come renewal of membership this September about 20 have disappeared.... not replying to any contact.
Hi Heather,

It does seem a very high drop out rate for such a seemingly well run association. Makes me think that perhaps they were people (barring the odd genuine reason for not responding) who under normal circumstances would choose not to be a member of an association, or, they simply found that beekeeping wasn't for them; either way you appear to have lost twenty nucs which perhaps could have been employed elsewhere.

The problem as I see it is that if you can't hold them for a second year after making so much effort on their behalf then you'll never hold them. It's pointless trying to lock them in (even in a nice way!) because you'll find yourself looking for greater incentives each year.

Cut your losses, let them go. The ones with genuine reasons will drift back at some stage, or at worst, lay their spelling open to critique on an internet forum!

Perhaps the 'easy' supply of starter nucs should be stopped, as Poly Hive wrote earlier -tell them that you can help to source good nucs; although I wouldn't discourage them from buying their own in the first year, just give them some guidance with regards to reputable suppliers.

Best Wishes,
Roland
 

steve1958 

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People believe what you tell them.
So maybe when they first join and "Sign up" to go on the Swarm "Waiting list" words should include something about
. Caring for the Bees in a responsible and humane manner
. Allowing the local association Bee Inspector access to advise in their care
. Attending an annual training day (update).
. Work with a mentor to aid in their learning experience.

The training day would be a good chalenge to the local association to organise.
The local Bee inspector can be any association 'Expert',

and then as members appear to disapear off the register
request the mentor call or visit or
send the 'Inspector' round to see how the member is and how they are getting on with their Bees,
and they can invite them to events.

bee-smillie
 

Frithgar 

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I would be very careful about trying to lock them in, maybe just introduce a reasonable charge for swarms to people in their first year? That way they get something that's not a ripoff and the ones that stay get some funding towards something that could really help them in later years.

Several years ago when I was a member of my local association (see previous post) they ran something similar and we had a number of excellant trips. One was to Buckfast Abbey where we had a full tour of all the extraction equipment, the old heather presses, we were shown into a number of hives and it's was a trip that has always stuck in my memory.

I'm sorry to say this but sending someone round when they've not shown up for a few months seems a little Big Brother to me, I'd find that intrusive and it would encourage me to sever all ties faster than anything else.
 

TBRNoTB 

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As with many other Associations we had a demand for swarms from new bee keepers this year. Our policy was that swarms would go to members of our local Assoc, and then only after we has ensured the colony was healthy and queenright.All was fine and we had 40 new members. Come renewal of membership this September about 20 have disappeared.... not replying to any contact.


How do you ensure they stay and don't just use the swarm collection facility you offer. We do stress education is important and teach at every opportunity so it isn't that we don't offer follow up help.
We lose members but I am also worried that they don't have enough experience to be adrift in their first year.

Have other areas had this experience of losing track of new people once you have provided them with a swarm??

Are we missing a 'lock in' small print
Our association now run a rent a hive scheme for new members. A dozen or so 'nuc's' are set up in an out apiary, are tended by the 'renter's' under supervision for a season. Later if they wish they can purchase 'their' bee's and transfer them to a full size hive away from the out apiary. This seems to have worked well for us. (and no we don't give out pots of honey!;))
Regards
TBRNoTB
 

drstitson 

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"absconding" newbies

couple of solutions:

1. newbies keep newly hived swarms at association apiary for first year.
or
2. newbies "foster" a swarm and can only formally "adopt" once it has got through to next spring
or
3. all swarms initially hived into association nucs with association branded frames/foundation. If the newbie can successfully maintain the colony and Bailey change them onto new frames then good on them. most newbs will only be in a position to return frames next season.
or
4. association charges a suitable sum (say £25 or £50) for each swarm provided. This could be refundable for any returning members (minus a weald farm type handling fee????).

Seriously in all cases a small charge for any petrol/frames/foundation/varroa treatment would be reasonable anyway.

Perhaps another "carrot" would be to run local publicity campaigns re merits of local honey etc etc in local press/radio etc. A local branding exercise accompanied by the "guarantee" offered by honey labelled with official local label available only to members would probably tempt some back.
 

harveyzone 

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Can I ask (and I am not sure if this is relevant as an incentive for retaining new starters or not), do you charge your new starters for nucs and/or swarms? I have been to several local associations recently and they all seem to have a different policy ranging from expensive beginners courses with negligible cost for a nuc (essentially just covering costs), to very inexpensive beginners courses with more expensive nucs, and other combinations. Swarms seem to be more likely to be free of charge if the person attends a swarm collection themselves to assist.

I wonder if a new starter would be more or less likely to return if they pay more for the services or not.
 
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Black Comb 

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Well the banks always argue that if you've got a financial interest in a project you are more likely to work to make it succeed. Mind you, I'm not suggesting new beeks put their house down as collateral.

But if you've paid (say) £100 for a nuc you make darn'd sure you look after it.
 

rae 

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8 and 3 nucs...it's swarm time...
The time thing is important. We're members of the local association, but we've been to one meeting. No chance of being regular - the kids need to be put to bed, and getting a baby sitter in is getting silly.

Ditto the w/e - got lots to do, can't face 3/4 hour in the car there and back to go to a meeting that may be brilliant, but may also be rubbish.

As others have said, places like this are perfect for answering questions - a virtual association if you like.

On nucs - people tend not to value what is free. A checked and viable swarm is worth £100. Charge it by default, and use judgement if someone is genuine and skint.
 

Monsieur Abeille 

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Do most associations assume control of swarms found in their area? In our area whoever collects the swarm keeps (or sells) it - but we don't have a central apiary so perhaps thats the way it has to go.
 

MuswellMetro 

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Well, it is the same in London

we use to train about 5 beeks a year but three years ago that went up to 30 and by this year we are full and only have only a few places left on our 2012 course

how many of that 30 are still with us.....10

reasons :too far to come so joined a more local BKA, did not take to beekeeping, Bees died first year winter, but mainly just never renewed


so what are we trying:

facebook group for BKA { only 40% joined at first so we put the syllabus on there, now 90% joined]
Round Robin Email each month saying "Apiguard time, oxalic, Feed etc {10% now come back undeliverable after 1 year]
County news letter by email
mobile telephone contact list [text message your subs are due,meeting on thursday etc home numbers no good]
on line payment of subs by paypal
£10 discount for cash paymnet of subs at AGM ( paypal costs us 5%)
group bulk orders of frames and fondant etc orders by email

and finally course open first to our people in our area only, county area then other parts of london

problems: some old beeks resent the emails on apiquard etc and think the text on subs is a waste of money but it works,

it thinking outside the box ,we had the largest honey show since the 50's just because we now have a non BBKA rules blind tasting [ ie not ruled out because the label was wonky etc]and puting in honey jar in last year made people more likley to enter a bbka class the this year
 
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Frithgar 

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It's always the case that whoever finds and collects the swarm then owns the swarm. it doesn't matter if it's just flown over a garden fence from someone's hive, if you pick it up, then it's yours by law.

You might start arguments with the original owner nabbing a swarm like that and I think there is something about the original owner can claim it's his so long as he stays with the swarm and it doesn't leave his sight.

The reason that associations get so many swarms is simply because more people will ring one of their members to remove an unwanted swarm, it's simply a pooling of resources.

Frith
 

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