First of all I would like to thank all the committee members and their families who worked so hard during the past year to make it all happen here at Southerns. It was my privilege to have served as Chairman of this association for the past two years. We as a committee had our highlights, but also our challenges. The support we got from you as members of Southerns is heart warming and fill me with gratitude. There has been a steady growth of people attending our monthly meetings and the number of visitors attending our meetings is applausable. I would like to give a short overview of the activities and topics covered by the current committee.
We dealt with all the seasonal maintenance before every change in season to ensure that our bees are healthy and well cared for in the different activities of the beekeeper’s diary. We tried to stay in touch with international trends and challenges facing beekeepers elsewhere. Using bees to protect crops from elephants, the decrease of the world’s bee population and the importance of bees for pollination of crops were some of the topics we addressed. We even made some news by being on the leading environmental TV programme called 50/50 ‘s website and the number of visitors to our own website also increased due to greater visibility in the cyber arena. Some guidelines were shared on how to increase honey production, especially during times of drought as we have experienced last year.
We are so grateful for the rain that has been falling since the beginning of the year and some of the beekeepers have also reported on good honey harvests lately. We had an in-depth look on bee diseases and pests facing our bee colonies and practical solutions were given how to deal with them. We visited a bottling plant and saw how to extract honey with a mega extractor. For many of us it was an eye-opening experience and an interesting day on how things are done on a bigger scale.
The practical tips and tricks that were shared by some of the beekeepers during our monthly meeting was also a first and many ideas were exchanged on how to improve on what is already working. Things like the anti-badger cage, the different design of a hive tool, frame wiring jigs, the bee vacuum, how to stop ants, branding hives, cleaning frames and the honey warmer were some of the inventions that demonstrated our engineering and creative capacity as beekeepers when faced with a problem.
The field day in Midrand where numerous other practical beekeeping tips were demonstrated was a huge success. Many new inventions saw the light for the first time within the ranks of the members of this association and I want to congratulate you all for sharing so freely what you have worked on for many years to perfect.
Our honey tasting evening was again a great success with much more entries and a wider variety of honey as the previous year. Thank you to all the participants. It was a fun evening for all of us, but more importantly a learning experience for many. Theft and vandalism are the realities we as beekeepers must deal with regularly. Concrete hives and bunker hives were develop to overcome these challenges.
Congratulations to our own concrete hive designer, Louis van Zyl who entered the “Boereplan” competition of the Landbou Weekblad. Louis was crowned the runner-up in the competition!! Well done Louis!! Kai Hichert and Tom Cain had radio talks to promote beekeeping in our region and Mike Miles also emphasized the importance of bees during an interview on eNCA News. Charmaine Moolman also had an ongoing promotional programme to promote bees amongst our younger generation with her primary – and pre-school presentations.
A number of our beekeepers attended the Beecon in Oudtshoorn. An overview of the bee industry in South Africa and the needs identified emphasized the role we as beekeepers have to play in the wider economy in the future. Various opportunities were offered where we as beekeepers can tap into. The insight into the wider bee industry in South Africa and abroad opened up a new way of thinking about the future of beekeeping as a key role player in the agricultural sector to ensure food security in South Africa. I would like to thank this association for the financial contribution which enabled me as Chairman to represent this association on national level as the biggest beekeeping association in this country.
The various field days organised by our association were a great success and members found it to be valuable and a learning experience by all the newcomers and long-standing members alike. The practical demonstrations during those days brought greater understanding between theory and practical application.
Some of the other topics we covered through the year were the marketing of honey, best practices in New Zealand, various skin and beauty products made from beeswax and propolis, foraging, pollination, bee losses, queen breeding, the role of bees in nature, present and future environmental changes, how to do bee removals, changes in government regulations, protective clothing, new bee-related publications and the latest developments in technology.
All these topics made our meetings more interesting and ultimately more meaningful and the vast number of members attending proof this format to be something the next committee can build on.
We embrace technology and the upgrade done to our website, the creation of our facebook page, whatsapp groups, email distribution and communication network, increased number of interested people on our database and the overall improvement of communication using all the different platforms available was a quantum leap into the present information age.
The year-end function at the end of last year was an event to be remembered. The generosity of the committee and members alike in giving all those raffle prizes showed the heart of this association. A special word of thanks to Charmaine Moolman and Kai Hichert for their financial contribution to the year-end function as well as all the hard work they have done for that event. I was told that it was the best ever and that other associations elsewhere in the country can come and learn from us how to do it.
Our finances are in good standing and the new financial management system that was implemented made the administration of our finances much easier. I would like to thank those members of the committee who are going to stand down tonight. Your hard work and effort during difficult work schedules and commitments are appreciated. People like you give me hope for the future and encourage all to do our best when we can and with what we have.
A key objective we as the committee has set for this year was to give a variety of topics to members at our meetings, raise the standard of our beekeeping where it was needed and to give value for money to all attendees. As a team and an association we work well together and if there was not such a dedicated group of individuals we would not have achieved half of what we do during the course of the two years while I was Chairman.
I trust you have all enjoyed the meetings and events while I was Chairman of this association and will be able to take away with you some valuable insights into the current state of beekeeping in this country. To all of you who made it the success it has been, I thank you.