It’s a brave new world out there - foreign to every single one of us, but we have to carry on with life, and also looking after our bees, in the best way that we can, while being mindful of our safety, and that of those around us. For those new to the craft, it is going to be even harder, as learning first hand is not going to be easy, or perhaps, even possible.
The same applies to my new position as chairman of the Association. Anne Pike has done an admirable job over the last three years, and her contribution as chairman will be remembered and valued for years to come. She hasn’t run away screaming, as she claimed she was going to, but is still with us, acting in a promotional role, and will be looking after the website, among many other things.
I know quite a few of our members, but there are many that I have yet to meet, and who have no idea who I am. Well, here’s a little insight. I hail from Bath, and spent a lot of the 1960s enthralled by and involved with the music of the time.
After spending 17 years involved with sales of construction materials to the unsuspecting architects of the South West, I spread my wings and headed for Saudi Arabia, where I actually sold sand to the Arabs, admittedly in the form of lightweight concrete, but on my return, the UK had gone into recession, and construction was particularly badly hit. I did what any red-blooded male would do, and diversified. A friend was running a woodworking business that needed a little help, so I invested, and used my sales skills to put the business on the tracks. He bailed out about three years down the road, and so I carried it on with my slowly improving woodworking skills, and a small group of cabinet makers.
That worked well until 2008, when I realised that something was amiss, my energy levels had dropped severely, and small items were slipping out of my grasp without me knowing. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Again, I did what I thought best, shed the business, retired and took up beekeeping. It’s been a great distraction, and has helped by making me plough on through physical difficulties. At one point I had 12 colonies running, but have now reduced that to six.
I joined the committee of Somerton Division in 2010, and took over their newsletter the same year, before also taking on the county newsletter and yearbook. Gerald Fisher, who had run the Beginners’ course for many a year, wanted to hand over the reins, and being a total glutton for punishment, I took that on about eight years ago, and now run it in tandem with Joe King. I shed the Somerset newsletter and yearbook when elected chairman of Somerton Division. During my three year tenure we managed to acquire ¾ acre land in Long Sutton, as the result of a generous gift, and with help from the county and a few small grants, converted that piece of ‘filled quarry wasteland’ into an apiary with wildflower meadow and an apiary building, with car parking for 30 cars.
I had been a Somerton deputy county delegate for several years before being elected vice chairman three years ago, and at this year’s virtual AGM, became chairman.
It’s not going to be easy, but I aim to draw the divisions closer, so that we can function more as a single entity, and get together (albeit virtually at present) with more combined events. The ones that we have work so well. The Lecture Day and Special Lectures are praised highly. The Special Lecture, being an evening event has been slightly hampered by the distance that a lot of members would have to travel, for a two hour session, only to drive back again the same evening. The lock down has caused lateral thinking, and Lynne Ingram of Taunton Division has gained us Educational Status with Zoom, which for those who have no experience of it, is a free to use, online conferencing facility, so that we can have mass audiences for virtual lectures. The virtual Special Lecture on April 23rd attracted applications from over 200 members, kick-starting a repeat, which Ken Basterfield was only too delighted to accommodate. There are live Q & A sessions afterwards too. Further talks are coming up, with excellent guest speakers, and topics relevant to the moment. What’s more, they can be enjoyed from the comfort of your armchair. There is, however, nothing quite like being in the presence of the speaker in real time. You wouldn’t consider watching a music concert on your computer to be the same as actually going to the concert, would you? But in a slightly bizarre way, we can turn this situation to advantage, and gain some knowledge at the same time.
See you at the next Zoom session.