I used to be a regular attendee of my local area’s annual garden show. I enjoyed listening to the speakers they had scheduled each year, and I always kept a notepad and pen handy to jot down new plant varieties I had just learned about or some gardening tip I didn’t want to forget. After several years, I realized it was not that often that I actually used my notes or put the new ideas into practice, but I kept going back to the garden show anyway. I was not sure what kept drawing me back, but now I think I know.
As my enthusiasm for gardening started to decline, I just happened to get into beekeeping. Two years into my beekeeping journey, a beekeeping club formed in my area and I started attending meetings. Friends in the local bee club talked me into attending our annual state beekeepers convention, and it was like the garden show scenario all over again. But this time something was different; friends from the local beekeeping club were also going to the annual state beekeepers convention, and I was looking forward to spending time with them.
The convention also had a fundraiser luncheon and an evening banquet, where I was seated with other beekeepers I didn’t know yet and I ended up making new friends. I continued to take notes at the beekeeping talks that I attended, but I started to understand that while the new things I learned at every beekeeping convention were very important, so were the connections I made with other beekeepers.
I finally realized that what keeps me going back is the camaraderie. I know that sounds corny and I may lose some of you here, but think about what camaraderie really means!
Camaraderie, in this case, is a feeling of trust and friendship among a group of people who have gone through some kind of experience together. Unlike some people, other beekeepers at a beekeeping convention will not wonder about your judgment when you tell them you spent a thousand dollars to get into beekeeping so you could harvest your own honey. And most of your family and friends don’t know what it feels like to pull a full frame of freshly drawn, bright white honeycomb out of a hive and hold it up to the sun. But the other beekeepers at the convention do. And if they have been beekeepers for a while, they also know how it feels to finally get a chance to open a hive up in the spring only to find your bees did not survive the winter.
Occasionally, we all need to be among like-minded people who have shared some of the same experiences and can truly understand our perspectives. And let’s face it, beekeepers have a bit of a unique perspective.
In July of 2023 I had the privilege of attending the Tri-State MN, ND, SD Summer Beekeeping Convention. As a Bee Informed Partnership employee I worked at BIP’s booth in the vendor area. The convention was well attended, and there were many super informative talks and presentations. I learned quite a bit, met many new friends, and had the opportunity to get to know some of my existing friends and coworkers better. If your area or state has a beekeeping convention, I hope you will take my advice and attend.
I feel that as beekeepers there is always more we can learn to help us take care of our bees, and as human beings there is always more we can learn to help us take care of ourselves. A little camaraderie may be what you have been missing!