Club is the bee’s knees
SOUTH Gippsland Beekeepers was formed on July 21 in 2011 and is about to celebrate its first birthday.
President of the club, Robert Fisher is looking forward to the ‘B’ themed AGM.
“We are hoping that members will dress up in a ‘B’ related costume and come along for some fun,” Robert said.
The club is the result of Robert and his wife Sharon wanting to start their own bee-hive, but being unable to find anyone local to help them or ask questions of.
“Sharon and I did a beekeeping course around three years ago. When we looked into joining a local club for support we couldn’t find one,” Robert said.
“The closest clubs were in Melbourne, so we decided to start up our own.”
With the guidance of the Gippsland Apiarists Association, South Gippsland Beekeepers was formed.
“Our club is for hobbyists of any skill level, sideline beekeepers and commercial beekeepers and we have all three of those categories represented in our club,” Robert said.
“It is a club with a great blend of enthusiastic people, who are happy to turn up to our monthly meetings and share their experience and knowledge.”
The local Department of Primary Industry apiary inspector used to be a good place to start when needing some advice pertaining to keeping bees, however that person no longer exists.
“When you start keeping bees, there are questions galore. Our club has started a mentor program, which is a group of around 10 people who are able to give advice and assistance after hours,” Robert said.
Robert and Sharon’s initial interest in beekeeping stemmed from Sharon’s desire to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
“We grow a lot of our own food and bees are necessary for pollination of plants. Plus we love making our own honey,” Sharon said.
Sharon sells their honey, as well as jams and other condiments at the Foster markets.
As a one of a kind club, people travel from far and wide to attend meetings and field days with the South Gippsland Beekeepers.
“During our meetings, which are held once a month we have a question and answer session. This allows members to raise questions on any problems they may have or make general enquiries about looking after their bees,” Robert said.
“This is followed by a guest speaker or a practical demonstration session.
“Once the meeting closes, we have a supper where people can mingle and chat about beekeeping.”
The club currently has 83 members and on average, attracts two or three new members a month.
“At our very first meeting, 55 people attended and around 45 signed up for membership on the night,” Robert said.
“We like to promote our club as family friendly and fun. We are a proactive club; we go out and do things with our members.
“In return, our members are really involved. They are happy to tell stories and discuss their positive beekeeping experiences, help out with issues and will happily offer advice to those who need it.”
Robert and Sharon encourage all beginner beekeepers to attend a short course on the subject, which is run by one of their members through the Leongatha campus of Community College Gippsland.
“The course is run on demand and may run once or twice a year. It is well worth it.”
Robert said that new members are always welcome at the club and that there are some great activities organised for the coming year.
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