President’s message (February 2016)

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I keep thinking about the discovery of Planet 9, somewhere out there in orbit. While we rotate within the light of the sun, Planet 9 is hidden in the dark recesses of the solar system casually plodding through its orbit every 22,000 years. The reality is that it hasn’t actually been “found.” Its presence has been felt or calculated by our local astro-physicists but it hasn’t actually been seen with the naked or telescopic eye. I have more faith in those who say it is there than perhaps I do in those who have found Yeti’s footprints and have not actually seen the creature herself. As I walked my dog early one morning, my cellphone app let me confirm the presence of Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus and Mercury on the occasion of their alignment. I could see some of them but had to trust that the others were just beyond my eye. Planet 9 (perhaps to be named David Bowie, if fans have their way) remains elusive. I have faith that it is out there and I want to believe that Planet 9 is just patiently waiting to be found.

Sound familiar? I have a queen I could name Planet 9. Her presence can be felt in the universe of her hive but she will remain in the dark for a few more weeks until the temperature rises and it’s safe to take a peak. I have seen her bees making short forays out into the 10°C and 11°C weather and returning with pollen, I imagine, from the January heather that is blooming. But what is my Planet 9 queen up to? Is she thinking of accelerating her laying of eggs? Do I feed more fondant? Do I add pollen patties? Is she really in there? Theoretically, yes! Practically, well, hmmmm. I have to say that the theory of beekeeping may be simple but if you don’t know, then it’s all rocket science to the unread. Our Inspector, Wendi Gilson lead me to a delightful book called: At the Hive Entrance by H Storch allaying my fears about the dark and theoretical presence of my queen, Planet 9.

When you know what to do or when you know people who know what to do beekeeping is incredibly rewarding. That is why mentoring is so important to our social enterprise (small or large). With the advent of the flow-hive and the first 30,000 units being shipped and received across the globe, a lot of people are about to discover that beekeeping involves a lot of rocket science. They’ve got the box and all they need is a bag of bees and by fall, honey should be squirting out of their new hive directly into jars. If they are lucky, they will find their way to our club and meet one or more of our seasoned beekeepers who will also be testing the flow-hive frames to see if they truly will deliver honey in our “local terroire.”

I started last year talking about four values: education, collaboration, community and environment and I want to keep the focus on them in this coming year. We have our annual general meeting on Thursday February 11th, and I want to thank all of you who have helped our club be as successful as it has been. Our support of local and international community groups with cash and honey; our education of students in schools and the general public at fairs and festivals; our support of each other by collaborating in the out yards and in back yards and all of us keeping watchful eye on research related to neonicotinoids has made the club relevant to new-bees and seasoned bees. See you at the next meeting.

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