Big and Better
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When it comes to the Franklin Beekeepers Club there is plenty of big: a big membership base, big club rooms and a big geographical area to cover, but it’s another b they are focusing on – beside the honeybees that is – being better.
For recently appointed club president Prakash Naidoo, better means being more interactive and promoting relationship-building within the club, which covers a large semi-rural area south of Auckland.
The retired assistant high-school principal and hobby apiarist says the increasing popularity of hobby beekeeping means he gets at least one or two calls a week from prospective new members to their club, which already has over 200 in the ranks.
“It’s a very active club and we strive to do a lot of hands-on things in our meetings on the second Sunday of each month,” Naidoo says.
While they improve beekeeping knowledge through those monthly sessions, they also run separate introduction to beekeeping courses, plus things like an American foulbrood education session planned recently, which had to be postponed due to lockdowns.
The monthly meetings are held in a unique setting, a repurposed old cowshed on land owned by Wesley College.
“It is quite a big building, probably more than 50 meters long, by 15 to 20 meters wide. It is a nice place and we have our own hives and garden on the outside, with flowers that attract bees,” Naidoo explains.
“It is on the same site as where they are going to put in 5000 houses though. They have given us five years, but it may be more, depending on how long it takes the subdivision to burgeon out.”
It is a great area for the club to have at their disposal, so they hope to hold on to it for as long as possible. Also on site is an extraction plant, fully food grade compliant and held in an old shipping container. Members can extract honey for a nominal hire fee, plus one dollar per frame.
They have had the extraction facility for about two years and it only cost about $30,000 to install, Naidoo says.
The Franklin club regularly have more than 50 people attend their monthly meetings and so, in the name of being better, they have introduced a few practices to increase involvement from members, such as providing a stack of post-it notes for attendees to write suggestions on and stick to the wall for collection and consideration by the committee. Then there is the decision to use breakout groups to facilitate better discussion, especially among those who may not be as willing to speak up in front of the main assembly.
While the club is made up of mainly hobbyist beekeepers, there is a small group of commercial operators within the membership.
One thing on the to-do list for the club is to try and break up their large semi-rural catchment into more practical areas for nominated beekeeping mentors to assist budding beekeepers within.
“We are trying to create areas in the region demarcated to set up mentors, because the area is large and differs widely. You have Manukau, Manurewa, Papakura, Pukekohe, Bombay, Waiuku,” Naidoo explains.
All the ideas and new practices being introduced by their “strong and dedicated club committee” are with the purpose of creating a better club the president explains.
“We plan to be more interactive, rather than just a source of basic information. If we actually know each other better, by name, then they will be forming relationships with other people, other beekeepers.”
Information on the Franklin Beekeepers Club and how to join can be found at www.franklinbees.co.nz
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