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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
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Treat Your Speakers Well


Note:  This article first appeared in Bee Culture, February 2013       
       The mission of most bee clubs is education.  While short courses and discussions among club members serve this function well, the speaker who offers the program at a bee club meeting is a very valuable resource that a bee club offers its members.  Treating the speaker with care and nurture really makes a difference.

       In Georgia, once the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute is over and the list of new Master Beekeepers is posted on the UGA website, bee clubs all over the state start calling.  Every bee club wants new energy and ideas so the Master Beekeeper list offers possibilities for new and different speakers.  As soon as my name went up on the list, I began getting calls from bee clubs in Georgia and the surrounding states.  Now that I’ve given at least thirty talks in the last two years to bee clubs and other groups, I’ve become very aware of the importance of nurturing the speaker.

           
      Generally when a speaker comes to talk to your members, much energy has gone into the speaker getting to your club.  People like to see what you are talking about so I always put effort into packing “show and tell” equipment to demonstrate my topic. When I talk about harvesting honey without an extractor, I bring the simple objects involved in crush and strain so the club members can see how easy it is.  When I talk about making lip balm, I bring the items needed because each ingredient is interesting to know and see.  When I talk about using foundationless frames, I bring my quilting rotary cutter, a cutting board, pressed foundation wax, and wax tube fasteners.

        Your speaker has driven to your meeting site, usually at the end of a busy day.  This represents cost to the speaker in time, energy, as well as money.  For me that sometimes means a two - three hour drive to the speaking site, gas for the car both ways and leaving work early (which as a self-employed person means I lose pay for the hours I am not in my office working).  

       While many speakers (including me) have talks on PowerPoint that they have given more than once, I always revise the talk before each presentation and often write a completely new one to fit a new topic.  As those of you who have made PowerPoint presentations know, this is a lot of work: making the slides succinct; finding just the right photos to illustrate your points; creating a talk that is the right length.

       Recognizing all of the effort and time put in before a speaker gets to your meeting, bee clubs should and often do try to nurture the speaker.  

       Some clubs take the speaker out to dinner ahead of the meeting.   Every club doesn’t have the budget to do that, but I would gladly buy my own dinner and get to eat with other beekeepers before the meeting than eat alone, as I have in many a town on a night when I am speaking to a club.  Having dinner with members of the group allows the speaker to enjoy some personal connection to those particular people. The pre-meeting dinner usually includes mutual sharing about philosophies about beekeeping and the art of hive management.  For me, the added bonus is that I love having a familiar face or two to look at when I am speaking.

       Because your speaker is an important source of input for your club, treat your speaker well.  Make sure the budget for your club puts a high priority on funds to pay your speakers.  Even your own club members who are asked to do the program for a meeting have put a lot of effort into sharing their information.  Recognizing this, the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers pay their own member speakers as well as visiting speakers.  Because members don’t incur the gas and travel time expenses, local speakers are not given as large an honorarium as is given to visitors.  But MABA pays an honorarium to every speaker because the club is deeply committed to education for the members.  

       When the talk is over, have someone in your club walk the speaker to their car.  It’s a way to give the speaker some positive support (“I can tell that our members really enjoyed your talk.”)  And when all is said and done, write your speaker a thank you email or note to give him/her feedback.  It’s really special when you can say, “The members are still talking about your example of XXXXXXX.”

       Now that I’ve spoken at bee club meetings all over Georgia, as well as in North and South Carolina, I can say that every club takes a different approach.  My worst experience occurred at a club two hours away from Atlanta.  I arrived on my own, drove through a fast food restaurant’s pick up window, and carried in all my own equipment.  The person introducing me said, “Our speaker tonight is …. what is your name, Hon?”  When I was done, as I gathered up my things to go to my car to drive the two hours back home, a member handed me a tube of lip balm that one of their members had made as their sole gesture to thank me for my time and effort. 

       Driving home tired and worn out, I felt frustrated with myself for not asking for an honorarium when I agreed to speak there and promised myself that I would not go there again.

       My absolute best experience occurred when I was invited to speak to the Macon County Beekeepers Association in Franklin, North Carolina.  Tom Hill, the president, and his wife Janet invited me, along with Bob and Suzette Binnie, to his mountain home to enjoy his delectable mead before dinner.  This was lovely after my 2 ½ hour drive.  Afterward we went to a nearby Thai restaurant where any member of the bee club was welcome to join us for dinner.  About ten of us had dinner together and chatted about bees.  When the meal was over, I stood up to pay my check, but the club had treated me to dinner!  And at the end of my talk, they gave me a cash honorarium.  Later Tom wrote me an enthusiastic “thank you” email.  

       I felt very valued and knew that it was worth the effort to go there.

       We have so many ways to learn from each other as beekeepers.  The bee club provides a forum for discussion, a resource for beginners, and most importantly, speakers to bring direct knowledge and beekeeping experience to your members.  Treat your speakers well and your club will be a group where good speakers love to present their talks.

1 comment:

  1. Having also done beekeeping lectures for clubs, I resoundingly agree with Linda. Negotiate an honorarium in advance, up front and remove any question of expectations.

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