Happy New Year one and all!
2018 ….. now but a distant memory was my first year as Chairman of the High Weald Beekeepers’ Association and I’m relieved to report that I have not presided over too many calamities…so far. Despite my initial reservations about accepting such a role amongst such an august body as our committee, I must say that it has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. How could it be otherwise with such an agreeable, committed and knowledgeable collection of individuals who selflessly give of their time and energy in support of bees, bee-keeping, and your association.
It was a case of ‘in at the deep end’, as shortly after our own AGM last year we were charged with hosting the SBKA (Sussex Beekeepers’ Association – of which we are a division) AGM at the end of March, providing talks and nourishment. You may recall that the weather was particularly foul last March and I was obliged to stand in for our speaker from Arnia who literally could not get here from Cumbria. I have had Arnia hive monitoring equipment for some years now, so the task was not too onerous. It was very much the 21st century theme we intended as another member of our association Edward Hutt gave a very good talk about Flow Hives as the folks from Australia couldn’t come either (….because of the weather?... maybe not), and Rosie and team despite the weather provided the most excellent catering. The HWBKA did very well and we were highly commended.
The Association goes from strength to strength with membership just shy of 200 now.
Finances are very strong with our current balance >£15k under Steve’s stewardship. This has been bolstered this year by a grant from Wealden DC ably negotiated by Debby Park. Consequently, dues will remain unchanged for 2019/20…. one of the lowest in the area. It is probably worth pointing out that very little of our income actually comes from membership dues, approximately £500 in fact. The dues go almost entirely to the BBKA and BDI. Most of our income is generated by our own activities, such as the training courses, honey and plant sales at various events, wax workshops etc. none of which would be possible without the dedication of the committee and other helpers. We are now trying to build a fighting fund to support future plans for a new permanent apiary.
The training programmes have been very successful again - courtesy of Malcolm providing 17 new beekeepers as fresh blood. We have for the first time added to the website the glowing references we received from the participants which may be read here - http://hwbka.org.uk/2018-beginners-course-testimonials/. We also held a Taster Day again which was a great success.
Popularity of apiary visits has been waning for many years now, but other social events such as BeeBanter still serve our community well, and there has been a full year of other activities too, organised by Rosie Riley.
The association apiary at Slab Castle is in rather splendid fettle courtesy of Keith and a new member Steve Davies who has put in a tremendous amount of work. However, we have shut down the Great Danegate site at Eridge due to the retirement of Norman Beresford the apiary manager
Various shows were attended such as the Honey Market at Heathfield School, the Crowborough Fair, Langton Green Fair, and Weald in the Field generating revenue for beekeepers and the Association, and more importantly generating interest in bees and beekeeping
The website continues to support our activities and membership well and is now maintained more conscientiously by our very conscientious secretary Peter Halford.
At the AGM last year, we acquired 3 new members on the committee, Sam Bowles who has served many times before on the committee and will be taking over the Apiarist magazine, Steve Davies who as mentioned above has been assisting Keith at the association apiary, and Helen Searle who will be assisting Rosie with events.
The challenge going forward will be to secure a more permanent apiary site where it is worth investing in permanent facilities such as a club house etc. – challenging. A plea for land was sent out far and wide earlier last year with limited success. 4 sites were visited – mostly deemed unsuitable on grounds of access, safety or lack of permanence. One private site is in abeyance
Our hopes are now pinned on the either the Uckfield or Crowborough SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space) courtesy of WDC again – and despite initial slow progress things are now looking more encouraging.
This may seem rather familiar to those who attended the AGM … apologies! but it is really for those who couldn’t.