|2018 DFW Area Beekeeping Conference|
DFW Area Beekeeping Conference will be held in the Metroplex October 27.
Hagee Communications Center
499 East University Avenue
Waxahachie, Texas 75165
Hagee Communication Center is located 30 minutes from downtown Dallas & 50 Minutes from downtown Ft. Worth on the campus of SAG University
Trinity Valley Beekeepers Association of Dallas and Metro Beekeepers Association of Fort Worth are joining forces to conduct the First Annual Metroplex wide beekeeping conference.
Notable speakers from across the State of Texas and beyond will be sharing their expertise in areas ranging from beginner topics to intermediate and advanced subject matter.
Featured speakers Les Crowder, the author of Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health and Michael Bush, the author of The Practical Beekeper will be conducting multiple talks ranging from Top Bar Hive to pest control management options.
In an email update addressing the reorganization of TBA which was sent to members the morning of May 1st, Chris Moore, president of Texas Beekeepers Association, said “My desire is to be as open and transparent – both personally and for TBA as an organization – as I can.” He followed this with “discussions and deliberations are, by necessity, confidential to the TBA officers and board until informed decisions can be made.” This has been the message we’ve received from the TBA board for quite some time now; they say they’d like to give the membership access to information about what’s going on… but they won’t.
I went to TBA Summer Clinic in Conroe on June 30th. I gave my “Fights About Mites” presentation and a presentation on bee removal work. I spent the rest of my time there chatting with beekeepers from around the state and listening to Dr. Jamie Ellis speak on a series of topics over the span of the day. It was a great day, and a huge success, which just makes it all the more disappointing and worrisome that TBA won’t allow members to attend board meetings, won’t provide board meeting minutes to the membership, and generally operates in secret behind closed doors. It’s strange to keep information secret if it consists of details that would impress and reassure. It’s strange for triumph to be marked with what essentially amounts to a gag order on the content of board meetings. At $50 per person TBA just brought in around $34,000 on Summer Clinic registrations alone. That doesn’t take into account TBA merchandise, or the money generated by having Roger Farr uncomfortably begging for twenty dollar bills to fill honey supers that TBA had the Texas Honey Queen Program girls carrying around the room. It’s strange that the TBA board members don’t seem to think that the members deserve to know how this money will be spent.
I have personally been asking for access to more information for some time now. My concern regarding transparency started last year, when TBA was pushing hard for House Bill 1293 to update Chapter 131 of the Texas Ag Code: a bill that they eventually and reluctantly admitted (after the information had already been leaked) that even some of the board members were against.
This Spring, after the TBA delegates meeting in Conroe, I asked TBA Director Tanya Phillips if members were allowed to sit in on TBA board meetings. As president of my local/regional club, Trinity Valley Beekeepers Association, I knew it was standard for us to encourage members to attend meetings of the board. Tanya pointed out that her husband had sat in on board meetings before, and encouraged me to ask President Chris Moore. When asked, Chris Moore said he wasn’t sure if that would be ok or not, and went to ask Leesa Hyder, who is the appointed TBA Secretary. Before long Chris returned and told me members were not allowed in board meetings.
Since Summer Clinic traditionally marks the next required TBA board meeting, I called and asked TBA Director Ashley Ralph when and where the board meeting was, and made it clear I wanted to attend. She said I should email the board asking for that information. I did so. My email was ignored entirely by the TBA board… not one of them has responded to it to date. I showed up for Summer Clinic still asking to attend the board meeting, and was told that Chris Moore should have answered my email, and that the board meeting had been held the day before. Requests for minutes from the Spring board meeting have been ignored. Requests for minutes from Summer Clinic board meeting have been ignored. If any board meeting minutes at all have ever been made available to the membership I’m not aware of it. Even the minutes from the 2017 annual members meeting have not been made available, despite conflicting versions of the resolutions which were passed at that meeting having been published in the TBA Journal.
Most beekeeping clubs operate with extreme transparency. Lone Star Beekeepers Association board meetings are open to members. In a recent social media inquiry every local club leader who responded stated that their club communicates openly with the members and allows members to attend board meetings. Comments included “All of our club board meetings are open to everyone.” and “Excluding [the members] cries out that something is deeply wrong with the organization.” The TBA board has a history of being fearful of its members; there was a lot of attention given to the possibility that “troublemakers” would “disrupt” the annual business meeting last year… presumably by asking hard questions or expressing an opinion contrary to that of the board.
Is there a downside to open and transparent conduct? Essentially, from the perspective of a board that has forgotten that they are servants of the membership, I would say yes, it is conceivable that there is. There is the risk that the membership will demand a process, or a timeline, or a bylaw wording, that the members want but the board does not. There is a history of TBA board members clearly viewing member input and contribution as opposition; most infamously, opposition by the membership to board actions was compared to Cain and Abel, to slavery, and to WWII-era Europe in a presentation by TBA Director Roger Farr at the 2017 delegates meeting… a comparison which he has never seen fit to publicly retract or apologize for, and other board members have never seen fit to expect that he do so.
So the question remains: what is the TBA board so afraid of sharing with the membership? Why meet behind closed doors and demand confidentiality? What secret could look worse than the secrecy itself?
In a surprising email from TBA, Chris Moore, President, informed members that on June 22 they received an unauthorized email from someone called The Texan Beekeeper. This grievous attack on TBA came out of nowhere apparently.
But wait. What terrible news was in the email? I received the email, so I looked through it again. It opened with a brief introduction and invitation/announcement that Lone Star Beekeepers is open for business. That’s not the best message for beekeepers if you’re TBA, but it seems harmless enough to invite someone to consider something. It was polite and factual. There was a brief write up about heat stress and remedies for it. Something about “watch out for snakes” too. There was a list of local/regional clubs that currently operate as recognized 501c3s. And the Texan Beekeeper was kind enough to point folks our way at SaveTexasBeekeepers.org as well as towards a couple of other online resources. Then there was an update on the TBA 131 Committee, Ashley Ralph, Chair. That was followed by a short explanation of mite counting with sticky boards.
What is so terrible about this email? You’ll have to ask Chris if you’re confused. Email him here.
But what is this nonsense in Chris’ email? “TBA did not authorize this email….” The email did not say otherwise. The Texan Beekeeper clearly did not pretend to speak for TBA or mislead readers to think that the email had much to do with TBA at all. “TBA recognizes this breach of member information and regrets any inconvenience caused to TBA members.” Breach? What breach? Most TBA members voluntarily list themselves in the TBA member directory, available for members only (password protected area only). I know I just clicked that box last week when I renewed my membership. I am always eager to hear from my fellow beekeepers! Perhaps TBA members who didn’t authorize their listing were breached? Chris isn’t clear about this question.
If you’re like most beekeepers, you get a few emails like The Texan Beekeeper each week. Some are great. Some are worthless. Some are trying to sell you something. They’re just emails. I couldn’t tell you where 10% come from. Who cares? In the arena of ideas, we at SaveTexasBeekeepers suggest that the more, the merrier!
Chris specifically accuses The Texan Beekeeper of breaching TBA data, but then only mentions member emails as compromised. Were other data compromised? Credit card numbers? Addresses? Members’ local club affiliations? Those would obviously be more serious problems.
Perhaps this breach is related to other breaches that TBA has quietly suffered in the past? The Coastal Bend Beekeepers Association (my group) initially took advantage of TBA’s web hosting in 2016 only to suffer multiple incidences of hacking of our site, the latest resulting in our page being turned into a Japanese mattress sales site. We have since moved the page to somewhere we hope will be safer. So TBA’s concern for online security is valid, though perhaps misplaced.
Here at SaveTexasBeekeepers we publish reliable beekeeping news that is attributed to specific writers (Principle Writers of the blog, or guest writers by invitation). The practice of writing “anonymously” though, has a long and famous history. Ben Franklin was famous for his pen names. Here are just a few of them:
- Richard Saunders (aka Poor Richard, a name so recognized and influential a Navy ship was so named).
- Mrs. Silence Doogood
- Caelia Shortface and Martha Careful
- Busy Body
- Polly Baker
There were many other names that Franklin invented and used as a force for extreme good during his time. Polly Baker, for example, was used to advocate against the poor treatment of women. Often, these pen names are open secrets. What does it matter? Certainly, anonymous writers may also disrupt too, but writing anonymously places the emphasis on the only thing that matters, the writing, the ideas. So the question becomes, what ideas are so fear-inspiring to TBA?
The Agriculture and Livestock Committee of the Texas House will hold hearings on pollinator health issues in July. The committee will meet jointly with the Committee on Culture, Recreation & Tourism.
The charge of the hearing is given below.
“Study the effects of declining migratory species, such as the monarch butterfly, as well as native and domesticated bee populations on agricultural production and its economic impact on the state. Identify possible causes of the population changes and monitor national trends. Make recommendations on how to improve and promote monarch butterfly and bee populations and habitats in the state.”
Beekeepers who wish to provide testimony or speak about the issues may contact their state representatives or the committee members’ office contacts.
When: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at 10AM
Where: State Capitol Room E2.010
Who: Committee Chair, Rep. Tracy King (512-463-0194)
If you believe that our young people hold the future in their hands, then you must also believe that we must empower them to take the reigns of industry and power and represent that future to the world around us. Our young people must demonstrate to the world that our industry is vibrant and productive. They must bring the message that beekeepers are open for business. They should be knowledgeable and competent. And they should have our full faith and support in carrying these messages for us.
With these things in mind, let’s start a marketing program. In this program, we will only allow young adult women to act as our spokesperson. But not just any women. These women mustn’t be married. You know how busy married women can be. That’s why she must also not be pregnant. Imagine how impossible it would be to work with a woman with a child, so she mustn’t have ever been pregnant either. As long as we’re at it, we don’t want young women who have been divorced. That shows a lack of commitment in a person, right? Of course, we don’t want any shacking up either. And by young women, we only mean between the ages of 17 and 24. We obviously want pretty women, not some old woman. Beekeeping is complicated, so we should also exclude young women who dropped out of high school. Again, lack of commitment, you know?
We should have a knowledgeable spokesperson, so we’ll quiz applicants about bees and beekeeping. After all, we don’t want our marketing programming to look like a beauty pageant, do we? Still, we should dress up the candidates in fancy dresses. And she should wear a sash, but again, we don’t want this to look like a beauty pageant, so we’ll call the sash a “banner” instead. And there has to be a tiara, since we will call her the Queen. Of course.
Welcome to 1955
While you may find the proposal above old-fashioned, out-dated, and absurd, the sad news is that these rules are real. I didn’t make up a single one of them. These are the largely unpublished rules behind the Texas Honey Queen Program, operated by the Texas Beekeepers Association.
Let’s count the ways this program discriminates.
- Young men are denied the opportunity to participate.
- Women older than 24 are excluded
- Married women are excluded
- Divorced women are excluded
- Pregnant women are excluded
- Women with children are excluded
- Women who have lost children are excluded
- Women who have co-habitated with a man are excluded
- High school drop outs are excluded
The question that we face now, in 2018, is what justification can we mount to excuse these discriminatory practices? The Honey Queen look-and-feel accomplishes a marketing purpose – the visibility is high and distinctive. But is the imagery of a pageant what our industry association needs in promoting beekeeping?
We should take a close and careful look at the core values of Texas Beekeepers Association. We should question why, even today, we lack a serious statement of equality and non-discrimination for our group. We must question whether it is our place to make judgements of how a young adult is to live their private life with regard to marriage, raising a family, etc.
Beekeeping is challenging, but it is also one of the few occupations that requires no formal education whatsoever. No license. No degree. No certificate. Nothing, not even a high school diploma. So shouldn’t we embrace the high school drop out who comes willing to learn and work? Is beekeeping not an excellent solution for that young person who has perhaps made mistakes in schooling? At our regional beekeeping association (Coastal Bend Beekeepers Association (Corpus Christi, TX)), I say bring on the high school drop outs! We will teach them our trade and make them productive!
If the young people are to carry our banner and speak for us, should they not reflect the membership in every manner? Of course they should.
The Texas Honey Queen Program
“The Texas Honey Queen acts as the official spokesperson for the Texas Beekeepers Association to promote all aspects of the Beekeeping Industry. The Texas Honey Queen is available for interviews, personal appearances, and is prepared to give presentations to local community groups.”
This official description of the Texas Honey Queen summarizes the purpose of the program. It is not a youth program at all. It is a marketing program, though the Queens and Princesses are selected from youth Honey Queen programs across the state. How are they selected? And who selects them? That’s much more difficult to answer. We know that TBA and other Queen program administrators preach again and again that the programs are not pageants. It’s clear why they must preach this, because of all the pageantry that is clearly part of the programs: the fancy dresses, the sash/”banner”, the tiara, etc. But in fact, they’re selected by their performance on knowledge based presentations and their skill in delivering them. The criteria are quite important to the program. It’s the pageantry that isn’t important at all.
And who selects the Queens? The Queen Committee selects queens, and that’s the limit of what we know. There is no list of committee members anywhere on the TBA web page. There are no minutes of committee meetings found on the web site. The meetings are not announced anywhere. Only the Chair of the committee is named in any way whatsoever. Nowhere is there a list of Queen activities, either past or planned.
The Texas Honey Queen Program operates quietly in closed door meetings (like much of TBA business). Who funds the program? TBA does. At the 2017 fall business meeting, the financial reports state that $5056.71 was spent on Honey Queen expenses from a fund that held $23,132.47 at the end of the report. This is roughly twice what the program reportedly generated in donations to the fund. The 2016 year-end report did not itemize the Queen program budget at all, but provided the fund balance.
Like many aspects of TBA, the membership is blissfully unaware of how and where their money is spent on the Queen program. Certainly, some is used to pay for travel for the program. And of course, the Queens are not volunteers. We do know they’re compensated, but exactly how is a mystery. A “Queen Scholarship” is mentioned in a few corners of official statements, but how much money is spent on this compensation is never mentioned. Are the Queens paid employees? Independent contractors? Or simply scholarship awardees? These numbers are not available to mere TBA members.
The Future is Within Our Sight
What does the future hold for the Texas Honey Queen Program? TBA seems set on continuing the program in its current form. TBA board member, and Publications Director, Chris Doggett explained at a local club meeting that the program is necessary in order to enable the young ladies to compete at the national level, called the National Honey Queen and operated by the American Beekeeping Federation. And certainly that is true, and an important component for the candidates. Without a state program, the young ladies would be ineligible to compete for the national titles. Is that good enough? That’s the question that TBA must answer.
At the same local meeting, Doggett acknowledged that the program does not offer equal opportunities for young men, but he pointed out that such programs do exist in the state (as youth programs only at this time). The East Texas Beekeepers Association (Tyler, TX) operates a Honey Queen/Ambassador program in which young men may compete for the title Honey Ambassador. Obviously, nobody advocates for the fellows to be called Honey Queen. The East Texas Beekeepers program nevertheless provides access to their program for young men to compete.
The Brazos Valley Beekeepers Association (Bryan, TX) considered the formation of a Honey Queen program and (at least as of this time) declined to begin a program. Instead, they propose to simply add “Honey Queen”-activities to their extremely successful and robust youth program. This has the benefit of pushing many young people into the community to carry our message. This increases the diversity of beekeepers that interact with the public, and sends the message that beekeeping is, indeed, for everyone.
Significantly, the Trinity Valley Beekeepers Association (Dallas, TX) has recently formed a Honey Ambassador Program, completely inclusive of all young people who wish to compete. Young men or young women will compete for a single title: Honey Bee Ambassador. Perfect equality.
There are other programs for young people to put beekeeping on display for all to see. In 2017, the Coastal Bend Beekeepers brought a 4H student to speak in Corpus Christi, TX. His story was about his very successful project in 4H that saw a couple of colonies turn into 40+ in just a couple of years. He came without any title whatsoever, but spoke with authority to a room of 140+ members of the community. 4H is a world-wide program with a clear and stated commitment to equality and equal opportunity for all young people. The program cultivates leaders. What better program could we possibly seek to mimic?
As the beekeeping industry moves into the future, the role of young people will determine the success of the industry in general. Historically, beekeeping enterprises are handed down inside a few families. But today, we’re seeing fantastic growth of new beekeepers. Many of those will wash out when they learn that beekeeping is WORK, but a few will stay. Some will build their own enterprise. And a few will carry our message to the world, that the beekeeping industry is strong and vibrant, that we’re open for business, and that beekeeping is for everyone.
Today, the Honey Bee Health Coalition (HBHC) released the newest edition of their important Tools for Varroa Management guide book for beekeepers. Since the first edition, the HBHC has diligently updated their guide for beekeepers. Indeed, no beekeeper should be without a copy of the guide.
Notable additions over the years include the addition of video demonstrations (page 11) to help beekeepers of all levels learn exactly how to properly manage varroa in bee colonies. This 7th edition includes guidance for the new product Formic Pro in the listings for treatments. This is particularly important because Formic Pro offers additional application options that are new to beekeepers.
We’ve provided the link to the guide below. Be sure to visit the HBHC’s web site for additional tools and learning opportunities. Don’t skip this important resource dedicated to keeping managed bees healthy.
Lone Star Beekeepers Association announced its formation last month and that it is accepting memberships. LSBA is a state wide incorporated non-profit beekeeping association whose mission is to support beekeeping activities of all sizes and give beekeepers a voice in local and statewide regulatory issues in Texas.
Among the membership types is an associate membership category for businesses, allied professionals and local beekeeping associations.
A great benefit of being an LSBA associate member is a free web hosting service is included. Clubs, associations & bee related businesses and individuals can maintain a professional looking website under their own custom registered domain name. In addition up to 10 e-mail addresses are also provided under that custom registered domain name. Associate members can use e-mail addresses such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to make it easier for members to conduct club activities or business.
Further information on membership and the web hosting service can be found on website http://www.lonestarbeekeepers.org/memberships/#AssociateMembership
Fipronil is nothing new. It’s been in fields and applied for along time, but it’s use has diminished in the last decade or so, partly because it is extremely toxic to bees. But today we want to alert you to an exposure you may not consider for your bees.
Fipronil is the active in pet flea meds, like Advantage. It works using a very small amount (a testament to how effective it really is). But that efficacy can harm your bees, and you may have hemolymph on your hands for it.
We don’t think about flea meds, except once a month. We apply it, and it “goes away.” But it does not go away. It’s there working, and you can transfer small amounts to your hands when you pet your dog or cat. That small amount is not enough to hurt your whole bee colony, not at all. But if you pet your dog, then go handle your queen, you can cause real damage.
If you use these products on your dog or cat, keep them away from your hives. Wash your hands before you work in your hives. Make sure your bee gloves remain free from these products.