Kick Starting a Club into Action, Part 2

By Dana Stahlman, President, Ohio State Beekeepers Association

Editor’s Note: Last month we featured the first part of an article by Dana Stahlman on his observations and insights into what can make a successful bee club. The Central Ohio Beekeeper’s Association (COBA) is a thriving organization, and Dana shares below just some of their engaging activities.

We’d like to share what’s worked for your club as well, please contact me at, thank you.

Here are some of the other activities COBA has to help meet the needs of our many, myriad members.

Bee Dollars

To encourage volunteers, “WE” decided to reward members with bee dollars. One hour of volunteer time equals one bee dollar.

Our August meeting is usually the last meeting of the year, where we hold elections and have a major speaker. Initially, we planned to get donated items from various bee equipment suppliers, put them on tables lining the walls of the meeting room, and allow members with bee dollars to bid Chinese auction style.

However, our main speaker failed to show up, and it was a blessing because the bee dollar auction became the big event. Those without bee dollars realized for the first time that it is not good to show up at an auction with complete hive equipment from several suppliers, tons of things like smokers, hive tools, bee jewelry, gift baskets, bottles, antique bee books, paintings, and other bee-related stuff and the money in your pocket is not any good. Only bee dollars accepted for payment!

This year, our vice-president thought that it would be good if the big dollar items would be auctioned separately from the many other items. Talk about intense, entertaining, eye-opening; everyone it the room got into it. Some of those with a few bee dollars gave bee dollars to a few of the kids who were bidding, and sure enough, those donations paid off big time for them. We have no trouble getting volunteers! It has become a fun event and one now anticipated by the membership. We don’t need a speaker any more.

Service Units

We provide a variety of services, and thus have the following service units.

An education committee with a mission to talk to any group interested in honey bees. They have two observation hives and all kinds of educational materials for the volunteers who conduct the talks.

A bus trip committee for special tour bus trips such as to the Tri-County Bee Workshop in Wooster, Ohio each year.

A helping hand committee with a mission to help members unable to take care of their hives due to illness or other unseen problems.

We have an outreach committee to help beekeepers in Haiti start beekeeping. We have a member who goes to Haiti yearly with a church group and we provide supplemental funding for him along with bee equipment for his work there.

A committee dedicated to locating bee hives in local city parks working with the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department and the Franklin County Park System to train and establish hives where they will be used to educate the public.

Other Committees

A Scholarship Committee which gives $500 scholarships to two young people each year to start beekeeping.

A Honey Fest Committee to promote honey bees and a local September Bee Event.

A Bee Class Committee that runs the bee school. We had 161 students this past year taking beginning bee school classes during four different, separate time periods.

“We” also have a second bee yard that we manage for the Franklin Park Conservatory in exchange for club meeting rooms at the Conservatory. They ask also that we participate in various events during the year promoting pollination by the honey bee.

Concluding Thoughts

All of this is done with volunteers and most of these committees did not exist five years ago. Not all the things I have mentioned will work right away. It takes time for members to buy into an idea. If the idea has value for the members they will come to the bee yard, they will show up at meetings, they will volunteer and they will feel good about their club.

COBA has a strong base for future leaders. Many of our members are eager to share the hard work to accomplish our stated mission: promote honey bees. It starts with their participation in the various committees. Taking on responsibility to chair a committee and running for election. Developing a goal and seeing that goal accomplished.

It is with pride that I see individuals receiving awards such as a monthly “President’s Award for Service to the Club”, Beekeeper of the Year, and plaques recognizing outstanding service to the club.

Keep in mind that all of us like recognition and a pat on the back for what we do for our beekeeping associations. Leaders who can share the spotlight with fellow members are sure to receive loyalty, dedication, and devoted followers. Good leaders lead by example and are willing to give more and receive less. The reward is not being president of your association. The reward is in knowing that you can make a difference and someone acknowledges it.

  • email