Submitted by J. Morgan
When I came to my first SIBA meeting, I knew it was a place that I was going to fit in. As I endeavor to follow in my dads footsteps with Beekeeping, the club has been not only a great bee resource, but the friendships forged have made it so much more. It's now my primary resource for beekeeping knowledge.
When I was a kid in the late 70's, I helped my dad work the hives for a while. After he kept losing his hives to the mites, I recall vividly the day he threw his hands in the air and said, "I've had it! The mites have taken their last hive," and he moved on to other interests. I didn't think much about it at the time, but it's clear to me now that he, after 8-10 years of beekeeping, was doing it all by himself and had few others to draw help from. I never saw my dad as a quitter... since he was up and on to something else, blacksmithing, winemaking and woodworking... and doing all of them very well. My dad definitely wasn't a member of any bee club. In fact, we where in the middle of Cheviot on Cincinnati's West side and sandwiched with neighbors. My dad's little plot was Cheviot's un-named greenspace, a kid's paradise and a one-man bee club.
I know now that the challenges he faced, he was facing alone. Challenges take time to understand and then conquer. It's sure helpful to have some like-minded friends to bounce things off of. The club is just that. It's a group of enthusiastic beekeepers of all ages and gender, all in the pursuit of beekeeping for various reasons.
There's my story. Now, are you wondering the point of all this?
I tell you this because what I've gained through the experiences and relationships in our club is so valuable, I would have been willing to pay for it. In fact, I drop a buck or two in the donation can each meeting. I was once told it was to buy snacks for the next meeting. That was good reason enough, but now I know more. Our little SE Indiana group doesn't just happen. We do not have member dues, fees, or even an official board? Other clubs have asked... how do we do it? So... how does it all come together?
I asked around a little to try and find some of the original founders of SIBA. Jerry Brelage, Jon Wismann, Harry Hammond, then later Brian Lantgen, Bob Hughes, Jim Farmer... and then Jim Orem and Garry Reeves. What started as an idea was perpetuated by the love of beekeeping, and nature... and of course fellowship among friends. Like any growing group of people, there comes the need for coordination, meeting space, funding for basic needs... the list goes on.
I've noticed that our success has come by the generosity of people like Garry Reeves who offers his space to host meetings and Jim Orem who fervently recuits, gets the word out about beekeeping and provides mentor experiences. It also comes from many SIBA members like us who are willing to run a demonstration, be a mentor or bring snacks for the next meeting, and other organizers and volunteers who have helped. In a word, we have been fortunate.
While we are so happy to have a great group of volunteers, we never want their efforts to become a burden. I have taken it upon myself (after talking with a few others who agree) to simply point out our donation can. If you feel that your experience is as worthy as mine, please consider donating anything... anything at all to the can. It is true, we use the money in the can to buy refreshments for the meetings, and typically, there's only enough in the can to cover that at best. However, there's so much more that we could do with contributions. For example, Garry once took the money in the can and added some more of his own money to get the educational bee frames that have pictures and educational information for new beekeepers to view at the meeetings.
Because of Garry's friendship with Mel Disselkoen, he was able to get Mel to come and speak with us in November. Thankfully, everyone at that meeting donated to the can as we passed it around to cover Mel's expenses for traveling down to see us. Everyone stepped up when they were made aware of what was being done... in the name of bolstering our beekeeping knowledge.
We would like to provide other opportunites to you such as bee school, workshops and events like the honeybee fair. However, it becomes impossible when there is no formal organization that is established to fund such things. While we are NOT trying to establish an official board, nor collect dues, we DO want to work on ideas that could fund events that directly affect our members. So I ask you as a fellow beekeeper interested in more... would you consider dropping a dollar (or anything really) in to the can at each meeting if you knew exactly what it was intended for?
Garry is willing to be the shepard of the can, tallying its totals and saving it for the next thing that we as a club want to fund. In the coming months, we will be discussing ideas, but in the near term, our simplest solution is to frequent the donation can... when we can! It's become clear to me that no one else is going to ask you to, but I want to simply point out that by donating any amount when you visit, you can help save for the next benefit we seek to provide. As always, we welcome your suggestions and ideas too!
I'm looking forward to the next bee season with all of you.