Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

General Discussion of Diary Posts and Questions on Beekeeping Matters
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Biermann
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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Biermann » December 12th, 2016, 8:01 pm

Hello Ladies & Gentlemen,

I was waiting for this thread to become a finger pointing, credit asking and denying, name calling pissing match and it is shame in my opinion.

Myself, I am a member in the Alberta Pulse Commission (from day one), the Alberta Barley Commission, Alberta Canola Commission, all because I grow and sell thus crops. No minimum sales are needed to be a member, levies are collected as a % of sales and taken at the delivery point and submitted.

The reasons the commissions were put in place under the Alberta marketing act, was to get strength for research and a united voice when dealing with the government.

We all agree (I hope) that there is strength in numbers, so why does the ABC see the small producers as a threat?

I made some money with honey this year, not much, but I did. Who sets the cut-off (or cut-in) point of 100 hives? That could be +-10,000 pounds of honey.

If the ABC would think, they would be well advised to have the small guys in their membership, rather than as opposition. As Allen wisely stated, it is very unlikely that the small guys will takeover your AGM.

Have some guts and allow them all in.

Cheers, Joerg K.

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Allen Dick
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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Allen Dick » December 12th, 2016, 8:37 pm

Thanks for joining in Lee.

I realise you think you have done a lot for the industry, and I will go as far as agree that you have done a lot, but not agree that all or even most of your effort has been to the industry's benefit. We are never going to agree, and that has always been obvious, but you are entitled to your opinion and political views and I respect you for your conviction and earnestness.

You are not, however, entitled to your own 'facts'. I stand by my statements to date and question many of yours. If what you say is true, how do you explain the vote of all registered Alberta beekeepers that was held to establish the Commission and its principles.

There are always people who think that money and possessions count more than people and I understand that argument. Nonetheless, it is a well-established principle in Western democracies, paid for in suffering and blood, that each person gets one vote and those who are most blessed by the system pay the most.

As for the current question regarding the Commission, when we see a small, rich minority try to claim privilege in spite of being granted special favour by the majority, it may be time to reconsider and either dissolve the Commission -- as we did last time that a few in a bee commission tried to corner power back in the last century -- or have another plebiscite to determine how best to proceed.

Again, thanks for joining in. I find it helpful to have you explain your viewpoint and how you regard the rest of us, including those who served, those who age and retire, and those who drop temporarily below the 100-hive benchmark.

I am not alone in my concern, or the only senior beekeeper with grave doubts about the actions of the current leadership or how the leaders went about them.
Allen Dick, RR#1 Swalwell, Alberta, Canada T0M 1Y0
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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Allen Dick » December 12th, 2016, 9:04 pm

Myself, I am a member in the Alberta Pulse Commission (from day one), the Alberta Barley Commission, Alberta Canola Commission, all because I grow and sell thus crops. No minimum sales are needed to be a member, levies are collected as a % of sales and taken at the delivery point and submitted.
Thanks for injecting that very salient point into the conversation, Joerg.

It is an important point that is apparently lost on the current Alberta Beekeepers Commission board and insider group and one that is never raised.

I know that there is a tendency for people to associate with and speak mainly to people who are like them and agree with them -- and subsequently reinforce one another's ideas, right or wrong.

The board have been convincing themselves of the rightness of their position, and awakening to the truth is not going to be easy for them. I appreciate and admire any with the guts to engage in dialogue with others with differing perspectives.
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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by BDT123 » December 12th, 2016, 11:08 pm

Sorry. Gob-smacked with that. That was both barrels, will wait for your assessment.
Allen, is that even close to real?

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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by BDT123 » December 12th, 2016, 11:32 pm

Mr. Lee Townsend,
I am a hobbyist beekeeper, a sideliner if you will. What possible threat can I cause to the Commission? I have an IPM, I do what I can for my bees. What do you do? You were quick to attack Allen on his past contribubutions to Alberta beekeeping, WTF did you do? Raise bees? Pollinate Canola, inherited a nice bee op? Your rant was really sub-par, not worthy of Alberta Commission rank.
I'm sorry dude, but your rant was an epic fail!
Yes, you may have influence at Commission level, but we have influence at 'voter' level And we will use it. You have foresaken the most obvious allies you had, you pathetic dolt!
We are bee keepers, you idiot! We 'were' on your side! Now, not so sure!

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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Countryboy » December 13th, 2016, 5:30 am

Yep, it's time for a new commission, if folks like Lee Townsend are on the commission board.

Lee's post reeks of arrogance and elitism. Bad things happen when the wealthiest or biggest operators get to decide the rules for everyone. (What happens when the Commission decides to limit voting only to folks with 10,000 or more hives, because the 1,500 mom and pop commercial operation isn't the same as the serious 20,000 hive operation? Where do you draw the line?) Imagine if McDonald's and Wendy's got to make all the decisions affecting the restaurant industry. Imagine if WalMart got to write all the rules for the retail sector. Imagine if Paramount got to decide everything for the California Almond Board.

Democracy is often described as two wolves and a lamb voting on summer. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. What Lee proposes is to disarm the lamb (small beekeepers) so the wolves (commercial beekeepers) can do what is best for the wolves.

I do find it quite hilarious that Lee is thumping himself on the chest about the high honey prices Canadian beekeepers have been experiencing, when many Canadian beekeepers are sitting on honey they don't want to sell now, because they would be selling below the cost of their production. If honey prices continue the way they are going, it will be the hobbyists who are best positioned to weather the financial side, because they can pay for their beekeeping with their day job and they tend to sell their honey at wholesale to stores or at retail pricing.
B. Farmer Honey
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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Biermann » December 13th, 2016, 9:02 am

Hello All, can we slow-down a little, please!

A lawyer told me once, when I had a disagreement with a buyer that did not want to pay and I was 100% in the power position and ready to get mad: 'You slide further on butter then on gravel'. I haded the guy for this comment, but learned to admit that he was right.

Cheers,

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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Allen Dick » December 13th, 2016, 9:09 am

Sorry. Gob-smacked with that. That was both barrels, will wait for your assessment.
Allen, is that even close to real?
I'm not sure exactly what the question is. If it is whether Lee is and does what he says, that is real.

If you are asking if his perspective and selection of information is correct, that is a tougher question and requires careful examination and involves some value judgments.

If you are asking if his attitude and approach to life is accurately displayed in his contribution, I would say it is.

Is his attitude shared by others in the commercial beekeeper population? I'd say yes and no.

His comments about Ontario and British Columbia reflect concern that the more established beekeepers have lost their leadership role in organisations there and reflect a real fear. Whether it is a realistic fear in the Alberta context or not, I have my doubts, but I am afraid that the actions taken by the Commission have polarized a previously stable situation here and given cause for the smaller beekeepers to distrust the Commission and organize resistance.

While Lee figures I am the cause, I am only the most public voice revealing the concern the Commission has set underway by its illegitimate and clandestine efforts to eject the sideline and hobby beekeepers.

At least two large groups are quietly working to emerge as the voice of Alberta beekeeping.

I am just a voice warning the Commission to get back to the legal basis before they trigger a vote of all Alberta beekeepers on their mandate which that would probably not work in the favour like it did last time, when there was trust between the various groups.

That trust has been shattered and the Commission has attempted to unilaterally alter its mandate and composition. A challenge such as the one underway could sweep the Commission away or hand it over the the very groups the elites distrust.

Don't shoot the messenger, Lee.
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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Jiminycric » December 15th, 2016, 10:29 pm

Well, I am following for sure this post. Interesting read - hope to try to look into the supporting facts (would love to have some links and info on it if anyone has them) before i can jump to any conclusions.
Biermann wrote:Hello All, can we slow-down a little, please!

A lawyer told me once, when I had a disagreement with a buyer that did not want to pay and I was 100% in the power position and ready to get mad: 'You slide further on butter then on gravel'. I haded the guy for this comment, but learned to admit that he was right.

Cheers,
I agree with Biermann, seems things are getting a bit out of control - didn't appreciate the 'name calling' because it does not reflect well on a person's professional opinion.

I would love to see a good representation on the ABC for hobbyists - and would certainly volunteer for it. To say that some of us hobbyists don't care and don't go to these things would be a bit untrue.
But certainly interested in this thread, and the different opinions,



Jiminycric
- Jiminycric
Strathmore, Alberta

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Allen Dick
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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Allen Dick » December 15th, 2016, 11:12 pm

Well, not much is happening going into Christmas. I think people are waiting too, on the results of formal complaints going through bureaucracy before taking things to the press and the offices and steps of the Legislature if it comes to that -- and if anyone cares. I think that the decision makers are all dragging their feet. I have not seen minutes of the meetings yet.

That is just speaking for me. I can't say what other groups are doing. We approached Marketing and the Commission directly in hopes that they see reason, Others, according to rumors I hear, are not being so public.

As I say, I really have no dog in this fight. You know I am tired of bees and even though the Commission is screwing us guys who straddle the 100 hive line, it is of little consequence to me other than I hate to see it happen.

I can see the direction this is going and how the Commission shot themselves in the foot, accidentally while cleaning their gun. They don't see it yet, but what they did is likely to result in exactly what they fear. The fact that people did not exercise the option to become voting members does not mean that they do not cherish it.

In the message Lee posted, I did extract a comment that gives some hope i.e.
I have always felt that the commission can and should include the hobby/urban side of our industry, if for nothing more than information exchange.

Oddly, that is exactly what we had until the Commission decided to open up the rules to change. There was dialogue, but absolutely no possibility that those under 100 could ever out-vote the larger producers on any issue, assuming the larger producers bother to show up and are not too split on an issue. If the Marketing Board does not decide to nullify the changes, then there will be a petition to consult all registered producers (honey bee keepers) and the result could very likely be be one producer, one vote no matter how many hives that producer has, as with other commodities.

I really don't think the move was at all well thought out and may have been a coup of sorts.

The board are beekeepers, some who only took the job because no one else did or their dads expected them to, and they are called together from time to time to make decisions. Grant Hicks, an old guy with a sense of history and who put the Commission together almost by himself IMO has left.

What Grant wrote going in was not quite what actually happened and the announcements were totally fumbled, so few heard what was up until long after. I wrote him when I caught wind of things and he did not seem to know what I was talking about. Then he was gone from the board. I'll have to ask him sometime. We're good friends, or were. I'll have to find out.

To me the board looks quite young, have no sense of the history, and are easily led. I know because that could have been me decades back.

Some are too committed or proud to back down, but the others are reasonable and can listen, learn, admit mistakes and/or compromise.

Whatever happens, it should be interesting.

To me,however--frankly-- it does not really matter.
Allen Dick, RR#1 Swalwell, Alberta, Canada T0M 1Y0
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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Allen Dick » December 20th, 2016, 2:35 pm

It has taken me a while to get up to speed on this and remember back to the reasons we structured the ABA the way we did.

I wrote a letter to Landon that I shared in today's diary.
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/2016 ... ec20th2016

Further to a message posted here earlier, I also wrote this:

> In a message posted in the forum, Lee questioned my credentials and contributions, as is his right and just as I question his. Of course, I welcome criticism and examine it to see where it may be constructive, no matter in what spirit it may have been offered. While much of his comment may have seemed spiteful and of little merit or been a matter of opinion, it caused to to think and remember why I did not serve on the board continuously -- besides having been defeated in at least one election <G>

> I generally did not seek the position because I felt I could have as much or more influence from outside, and have a clearer view. Board members tend to get co-opted by the staff and one another and talk to one another more than outsiders. They form a group that confirms one another's ideas, often uncritically and when everyone thinks the same, no one -- or only one -- is thinking.

> I am not a follower. It is not in my nature and as a result, I see what others do not, and I like it that way. By standing up and speaking and by writing motions -- even motions that were defeated -- I was able to influence the agenda far more than if I was required to toe the party line.
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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by BDT123 » December 20th, 2016, 6:34 pm

Allen,
Back in my Corporate life, we recognized a problem called 'groupthink'. This is when a group starts sharing a common view, but are only vaguely aware of its source, or consequences. It is very common in organizations, far more so than is commonly recognized. Fallacies and misdirection are hallmarks of the phenomenon.
The real problem is that it requires outside critique to show board or corporate directors that they have 'lost the thread', the original mission.
I totally appreciate what you are trying to achieve here; thank you!
We don't need a new Commission; we need a re-affirmation from the existing Commission that they will remain inclusive. We (bee-keepers) are all engaged in similar struggles, only the scale is different.
The passion and interest and efforts are the same. This has to be turned into win/win.
Best of the season to you and all!
Brian

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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Allen Dick » January 8th, 2017, 7:56 pm

Well, I've taken a few days away from the diary and may write less in the coming days.

On Jan 4th, Liz received a reply from the Alberta Beekeepers Commission board affirming their intent to m maintain the changes that they made to their Plan.

Of course, many consider those changes to to be illegitimate, improper, and unwise, but now we know where they stand.

In coming days, there will be a number of responses. not the least of which will be the race to fill the vacuum the have created by deliberately ejecting representation by the majority of Alberta beekeepers and rejecting smaller participants.

Until the Commission abandoned the greater portion of the Alberta beekeeping population, they took the place of the Alberta Beekeepers Association which they absorbed and had the right to the ear of the government in matters pertaining to beekeeping. However, now, they have limited theirselves to a much-reduced mandate and deserve much less influence.
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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Billir » January 9th, 2017, 2:45 pm

Democratization of the representation of bee keeping interest in the Province of Alberta could be the focus of a Federation of Bee Keepers in our fine province.
It is my opinion that the Alberta Beekeepers Commission should operate as a marketing board. The ABC should operate with a focus on making more honey, doing more pollination, selling the highest quality products to the world markets. All of this is what any Albertan would like to see - making a tertiary industry bring wealth into our lop sided economy (petroleum dependency).

There are plenty of example of marketing boards for other sectors of the Alberta agricultural landscape. Eggs come to mind. There are big producers that make millions of eggs and do it according to strict standard so our food is safe. There are many small producers that sell to their neighbours and friends. The small producers may adopt many of the safety practices developed by the "The Big Guys" (TBG) What the small producers provide something a bit different - they provide a sense of near community - near food - at a reasonable price.They are the small pods of food resources that can be customized to the customer's needs. A silly example might be I would like to try duck eggs or an emu egg. A hobbyist may actually may take the time and effort to produce these.

Back to bees and the keeping.
I know that the Calgary and District Beekeepers Association (CDBA) does much reach out into the community by presenting at local and international fairs. The goal of these presentations is to educate and promote bee keeping. It is a labour of love. For example The Calgary Stampede presentation required 50 to 60 volunteer participants to cover the event. One must also consider the huge amount of work the team leaders had to do to get the presentation in order and out onto the floor. All of this occurred without help, $$ or support from the ABC. It was rumoured that they did not want to support the effort because some guy might pose a usual or controversial opinion that would show poorly for the industry. - Folks - the CDBA does many of these events and there is informal peer monitoring of such actions.
So in conclusion - perhaps there are two different roles here. One is to market on a big scale Alberta honey and pollination industry - with funding required from tax payers dollars.
The second is the near food - local producer - urban agriculturalist - that do grass roots education and support on a volunteer level that support the industry. Over 1000 registered beekeeps.
In either case - they should both have a say.
They should both have access to the office of the Provincial Apiarist to get updated info on pathogen research and other essential information. I should say now that Medhat has been to the CDBA meeting often with advice appropriate to the season. The sessions are extremely well attended. Also the CDBA has financially supported an app "Bee Health" developed by Medhat's crew.

Both should have access to public funding to address their particular issues - be it having money to do a junket to Japan to wine and dine potential customers or money to help develop a display for public information and promotion about our wonderful bee keeping and agri - culture.
Both should be queried with respect to public policies on bee keeping regulation at all levels of government.
IMHO

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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by cgybees » March 8th, 2018, 3:17 pm

Having found my way to the 'United Beekeepers of Alberta' through a recent mention in Allen's diary, I find myself still wondering how this organization interacts with bee-keepers. There's a newsletter, and some explanatory details of what the UBC grew out of, including a link to this thread.. but there's no 'sign me up for newsletters' or 'our next meeting takes place at' or 'contact us with concerns about'

I guess it's not very clear what form of representation for bee-keepers this body is, how it intends to function, or how to get in touch with it (other than here). Perhaps more info is forthcoming.

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Re: Is it Time for a New Alberta Beekeeping Organisation?

Unread post by Allen Dick » March 8th, 2018, 4:02 pm

You are right of course. Everything is under development. Appeals have taken time and no one wants to go off half-cocked.

It was hoped that the ABC would come to its senses and relent, but that has not happened and the new organization is registered. Further details will be released in due time.

I am not the organizer, so until he chooses to make statements, I have no more information.

My understanding is that there will be a public meeting this summer, but the details are not yet worked out.

Stay tuned.
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