The purpose of the VBA mentoring program is to offer to VBA members direct assistance to help minimize the learning curve, effectively manage costs, instill confidence, and raise healthy honey bees. The program is designed to match newer beekeepers with more experienced beekeepers. The hope is that successful mentoring will result in improved Vermont beekeepers leading to new mentors and new VBA certified beekeepers. The expectation is for mentees to work towards and develop into mentors.
The mentoring program benefits are listed below:
- To the beekeeper/mentee
- It is the hope that successful mentoring will lead to increased beekeeper satisfaction, help to reduce costs, shorten the learning curve, and result in healthier honey bee populations
- To the mentor
- To benefit from a successful mentoring relationship by deriving satisfaction from helping to develop the next generation of beekeepers, learning how to use or develop their personal coaching skills, and to become exposed to methods or perspectives that may not have been otherwise known.
- To the VBA
- To have developed a group of beekeepers that can successfully manage healthy honey bee colonies. To have a group of quality individuals that can represent the VBA as a premier organization recognized for well-trained beekeepers.
- To beekeeping in general
- To develop and produce well-trained beekeepers that can: replicate their successes outside the borders of Vermont, communicate coherently within online forums, and maintain the health of their own hives to avoid disseminating pests and pathogens to neighboring beekeepers.
Expectations and Process:
- Scott Wilson and Andrew Munkres will review the mentee application and based on input from the mentor form will match the mentor with the mentee. Scott or Andrew will contact the mentor with the mentee information. The mentor can then contact the mentee.
The mentor and mentee will work together to discuss a plan and set goals for the season:
- Tools to help plan the approach to the season:
- Use the year in the life of a Vermont beekeeper as a guideline for achieving specific and measurable goals.
- Utilize the Best Practices from the VBA website
- Determine best methods for communication
- Based on the discussion they create a list of basic goals for the season to follow and to use for planning.
- At the end of two seasons, the successful mentee can describe and answer certain beekeeping related questions and may be ready to complete the VBA certified beekeepers program.
- A review date(s) for progress measurement with the VBA checking in on a periodic basis.
VBA Mentor Requirements:
- Should be an experienced beekeeper defined as:
- VBA Certified beekeeper, OR
- has successfully overwintered a minimum of two hives for two consecutive seasons
- Any history of coaching, training, or teaching in a professional setting
- Published in beekeeping related media
- Willingness to serve.
- Served on a board or volunteered for other VBA/ Club activities
- Active in keeping up with new honey bee research
- Becoming a Mentor:
- Complete and submit the mentor request form. A response to the request will be made within a few days.
VBA Mentee Requirements:
- Potential mentees are expected to do their own research (including reading some of the books listed below) before requesting a mentor:
- Must be registered and current VBA member.
- Has read 2-3 of these suggested books:
- The Backyard Beekeeper
- The Beekeeper's Handbook
- Hive Management by Roger Morse
- Hive Management by Richard Bonney
- Anything by Richard Taylor
- A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell
- First Lessons in Beekeeping by Keith Delaplane
- Honeybee Democracy by Tom Seeley
- Natural Beekeeping: Modern Approached to Organic Apiculture by Ross Conrad
- May have taken a basic course in beekeeping (in person or online)
- Can demonstrate remedial understanding some bee related topics for example:
- What are the basic tools
- How are they used
- Basic methods for obtaining bees
- Can install them or explain how to install them
- Commits to travel to mentor’s yards
- The VBA expects that at some point the mentor will work the mentees hive(s) but this is the exception
- Have requested a mentor using the VBA mentor request form.
- Mentees under 18 yrs. of age need the permission of parent or guardian who should be present during visits to mentor’s yard.
- How to be a good mentee?
- Considerate of mentors time
- Listens carefully
- Understands there exist multiple techniques
- Follows through on recommendations