This article was published in the October 2018 Beekeeper journal

This article is about the Canterbury Hub and what has happened in our Hub since the inception Apiculture NZ in 2016.

Our Hub encompasses the West Coast, Canterbury, Southern Marlborough, Northern Otago and Chatham Island.  Within ApiNZ, we are the largest Hub geographically and membership wise.  Many of our members live in relatively isolated areas, and this combined with the geographic size of our Hub poses logistical challenges in trying to accommodate the interests of all our members who of course encompass the three sectors in ApiNZ (commercial, market and non-commercial sectors). The Canterbury Hub has amazing diversity, skills and experience in all three of these sectors.

Our market sector is the smallest sector, but a number of these members have been in business for over 60 years, and in more than one instance a hundred plus years. 

The commercial and non-commercial sectors are our biggest sectors. Once again, many of our commercial members are from longstanding reputable beekeeping operations.

Canterbury is perhaps quite unusual in that our non-commercial sector is approximately 50% hobbyist and 50% occupations aligned to the beekeeping industry e.g. the scientific community, farmers, retired commercial beekeepers, administrators to mention a few. 

The Hub has one ApiNZ Life Member.

The Canterbury Hub currently boasts two Board members, both from the Market Sector.

Within the ApiNZ Focus Groups, our Hub is well represented in these.  We have:

A Hub member on the Science & Research Focus Group

Two on the Standards & Regulation Focus Group

The GIA/Biosecurity Focus Group three members

On the Conference Steering Committee, one member.

 

The Chair of the American Foulbrood Pest Management Plan is a Canterbury Hub member.

Last year Hubs were requested to each put forward several names for the ApiNZ/NZ Police Hive Theft List.  Our Hub supplied 14 names.  The response was very rapid, with our beekeepers stating the importance of this list.  The Canterbury list is not reliant on continuous Hub Executive officers, and we believe this list reflects the hive holdings within our Hub, the geographic area, travel routes, extensive roading and DOC estate.   In some areas there is a slight overlapping, but this gives an allowance for a member for whatever reason not being available in an emergency.  Apologies to those who were not included, but we started at Kaikoura, and worked through the Hub as the dice rolled.

Last year, the Hub under the umbrella of ApiNZ, and with extensive help from Trees for Bees NZ, lodged a submission to Environment Canterbury on the Proposed Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan 2017-2037.  Our Hub members were interested in the proposed rules around gorse and broom.  Gorse and broom are key pollen bearing plants for honey bees in Canterbury and are essential in spring colony expansion for hives going onto pollination contracts or into queen rearing operations, and we would be concerned about the total removal of these key plants. Our submission can be viewed on the ApiNZ website under the Science and Research Focus Group.  https://apinz.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/ApiNZ-submission-to-ECan-PMP-2017-2037.pdf

 

In The NZ Beekeeper journal, we realise that the most read column for beekeepers is the regional Colonies Reports.  We have five Colonies reporters scattered throughout the Hub – West Coast, North Canterbury, Christchurch city, Mid Canterbury, South Canterbury. The Hub also publishes notices of forthcoming events in this column.   For the April and October editions to every registered beekeeper in NZ, we welcome our Hobbyist Clubs to provide editorial or photography, in this column. 

We also use our membership list, to communicate electronically with members.

May 2017, for the first time in a couple of decades, a Hub/Branch field day was held at the Geraldine Golf course, South Canterbury.  April 2018 saw a field day at the Moonlight Hall, Westland.  There were 92 attendees at this field day, which considering such a sparsely populated area was an excellent result.  Loyal members and others travelled long distances to help make this an enjoyable day, along with interesting speakers and trade displays. 

Work is well in progress for the 2019 field day.  We already have a great array of confirmed speakers; most of whom will be sourced from our Hub membership.  We are looking for a central and suitably sized venue in which we can increase audience and trade display capacity.  Progress on this event will be reported in the New Zealand Beekeeper journal, February, March and April editions, along with registration details.  

Last year members were asked for their opinions and ideas on how Hub meetings could be run, and where and when they should be held.  The feedback, overall, requested less meetings, with an increased in quality delivery, and an increase in speakers, and opportunities for socialising.  Also, amongst the most common requests were plant visits, and beekeepers as speakers.  We must admit, that the most difficult speaker to arrange to present, is a beekeeper!   

August 2017, we started implementing requests from feedback.  We started off with an afternoon tour of Midlands Apiaries plant and were stunned to have over 50 attend, with over half adjourning to a meal in the Ashburton township.  April 2018, 40 Hub members visited Glassons Honey in Blackball, followed by a buffet meal at the Blackball Hilton and then our field day followed the next day with over 90 attending.

This year our AGM was combined with a social event at the Leeston pub, Mid Canterbury.  Following a few requests for an RMP specialist meeting, two hub members with compliance expertise gave a very slick PowerPoint presentation.  This was followed by a Science & Research Focus Group presentation, then a GIA & Biosecurity Focus Group presentation.  Thirty people attended these talks.  25 stayed on for the AGM, followed by dinner, followed by a non-beekeeping dinner speaker – a local identity well known in international rugby circles. 

At this AGM, a seven-member management committee was elected; all from different backgrounds and experiences.   

Canterbury is incredibly lucky in that, over the last two years we have been able to use our Hub members as speakers at events.  We have more Hub members up our sleeves that we can utilise for future exciting meetings, and once again this reflects the huge range of diversity, skills and positive ideas within our Hub.

We look forward to meeting new people, to help make our Hub more interesting, enjoyable, and in turn leading to information exchange and continuing education for our members, which in turn importantly helps retain numbers at Hub meetings, and our presence at Focus Group and Board levels, whilst helping with info to aid our beekeeping operations.    Existing and new members are all are welcome to our meetings. 

Maggie James

On Behalf of the Canterbury Hub Management Team