I was going to begin this Editorial with Dickens' 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...', but that really was a bit too much. I considered 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' as an alternative, but couldn't think of the ugly bit. So maybe I should just comment that right now times are both good and bad for South African beekeeping and beekeepers, and that an unusual level of commitment and com- promise is needed if the good is to outweigh the bad.
The good part is Apimondia 2001. Despite the skepticism of many (including myself) it has been made to happen, and huge congratulations are due to all those involved. I hope that it proves to be a water- shed for beekeeping in South Africa, and that it proves to be a great success. Welcome to all visitors to South Africa and I trust you will enjoy both the congress and the country.
The bad part is that beekeeping in South Africa continues to lurch precariously close to collapse and disaster. Issues that threaten the well-being of
beekeeping in South Africa abound, from the removal of gums in the Working for Water Programme to the publicity generated by the killing of honey badgers by some beekeepers. But the biggest problem remains the inability of South African beekeepers to organize themselves into a unified and representative body that can begin to address the issues.
In this, my last Editorial, forgive me for beating the same old drum. Unless beekeepers in South Africa are able to sort out their petty differences and present a united front, they will continue to be battered from pillar to post by all and sundry. Granted, there have been continual efforts to 'fix' the problems, but they have come to naught. The solution? Disband all existing beekeeping associations in South Africa (in the statutory sense; they can continue as 'clubs') and make the registration of beekeepers the bee all and end all. Beekeeping in South Africa should be represented by those individuals registered as beekeepers, period. Come up with a system of proportional representation
(commercial beekeepers pay more for registration than hobbyists but have more votes); incorporate the growers and the packers and the importers; draw up a constitution; elect an executive; employ permanent and paid staff; use the
African Bee Journal
for communication and elections and referendums; represent beekeepers to
the government and others; and get on with job of solving the problems and advancing the cause of all beekeepers in South Africa. Simple, practical, equitable, but will it happen?
On a personal note, this is my last issue as Editor of the journal.
have resigned because (1) I can no
longer afford the time; (2) the tardy responses of beekeepers and beekeeping associations to pleas to support THEIR journal; and (3) differences of opinion with Federation as to the production of the
journal and its management. I want to thank for their support all those that have sent in letters and
correspondence and articles, and those advertisers that have the supported the journal, and I wish my
successor and the
South African Bee Journal
all that is good in the future.