by Frank Marro
I was recently asked what members of DBA get for their $20 annual dues. It is an interesting question. My response was that they are afforded a forum each month, in each county, to meet with other beekeepers to ask questions, share knowledge and learn from the experience of others and sometimes from individuals renowned in the field of apiculture.
It wasn’t until some months later, as the executive committee struggled to get volunteers for the Delaware State Fair exhibit and other local fairs and festivals around the state, that I realized there is also a responsibility to belonging to the DBA. We are considered by most to be the “experts” in managing bees (not always honeybees either) and as such, are asked to render an opinion about the bees flying low in the neighbor’s yard, or what to do about the “swarm” on the shed a few miles away.
For the past few years some of us have been asked to give presentations to students, ranging from preschool to elementary school. I am always amazed at not only how the students respond, but also the teachers. There is a fascination with the workings of a honey bee colony that is unleashed by sharing even the smallest piece of information with an audience.
The publicity that now surrounds colony collapse disorder, the endemic nature of the mite problem and the overwhelming interest in organic food production has fostered an opportunity for us as an association, to interact with the public on the critical role honey bees play in our society. This winter, I gave a presentation to a Rotary club, my first adult audience. They were as fascinated as the kids in school. I still get feedback about how interesting the information was. This January, I have been asked to speak to a garden club in Lewes (those have to be scheduled well ahead of time I have learned).
Much of the funding for the public outreach programs we present or participate in, comes from a matching grant from the State of Delaware. With these funds, we purchase various brochures, honey sticks, observation hives, etc. that we use for our larger presentations. We also use these funds to pay EAS dues and speaker stipends for our annual meeting. This year, we received a grant of $1,300, half of the $2,600 we budgeted to spend. As you are aware, next year’s funding will be seriously curtailed.
The executive committee feels it is critical that we take every opportunity to interact with the public and to document such interaction. With this in mind, please send an email to Debbie Goerger, our secretary, of any speaking you do, including an estimate of the number of people in the audience so that we can keep a tally of the extent of our public outreach .
We feel this will be instrumental in justifying and maximizing our request for state funding in next year’s budget.
I would like to see 100-percent participation in this project. You will find the experience of speaking to a class of students or a group of neighbors very rewarding, and who knows, you might get the first call for a swarm next year!