Membership Survey 2020

IBA Membership Survey 2020

Irish Beekeepers Association (IBA) clg

Survey of Members

When the new Board of Directors met (virtually!) after our zoom AGM we decided to engage directly with the members of IBA clg in order to find out what they want from the organisation.

The Board of Directors (BOD) want to spend our time and efforts trying to achieve things that are actually important to our members, and not to waste time working on projects and initiatives that are not high on the list of priorities of the majority of IBA beekeepers.

While our BOD is comprised entirely of volunteers, none of whom have any expertise in the area of surveys, either how to compile them, how best to distribute them or how to interpret the results, we forged ahead anyway and asked what we thought to be the important questions.

We have learned quite a bit!

Firstly, out of a membership of 1,193 we only had email addresses of 1003 members. Of the 1003 that we emailed with the survey, 83 bounced back because of incorrect addresses. This obviously indicates to us that the contact information we have on our membership needs to be updated.

People change both home and email addresses all the time, and while updating the changes with IBA may not be top of the priority list, it makes communicating with members more difficult. We will endeavour to update all of these details over the next year.

No survey ever gets a 100% response rate and thus, we see that 18% of those contacted responded to the current survey. We need to build on that next year, with your support, as we rollout this survey on an annual basis. The next issue that we were both surprised and slightly disappointed about is the lack of awareness of many of our members about many of the services provided by IBA clg.

For example, 34% of those that responded were not aware that further Beekeeping Education is available through IBA. In relation to the IBA Website 15% have never visited the site, and almost 41% only visit it about once a year.
In relation to IBA Honey Labels and Barcodes 61% of those that responded were not aware that these are available. In general, those that responded are happy with our education system and are interested in engaging further. 

Kudos for this must go to our previous Education Sub-committee under the guidance of Mike Hughes who set up our system, and to Caroline McDonald and the current sub-committee who are continuing to develop it.

There are lots more planned in this area in the near future…

Some interesting statistics that we have garnered as follows: (percentages rounded up or down to nearest full figure).


77% think IBA should offer a digital/online Beginner’s Beekeeping course. (This will have to be discussed with our associations as we do not want to overlap with the many excellent beginner’s courses currently in place).

– 86% are interested in seminars, online lectures and webinars.
– 90% want to upgrade their beekeeping knowledge/skills.
– 61% would like certification/accreditation when a new skill is achieved.
– 67% have not done an improvers course such as queen-rearing, honey for showing etc. in their local association.


– Approx. 82% of those that responded keep AMM bees, 7% keep Buckfast bees, 2% keep ‘other strains’,
– 3% don’t currently keep bees and surprisingly 5% don’t know what strain of bees they have!
– 76% want IBA to push for a policy banning the importation of bees and queens from abroad in any discussions with the Dept of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). 12% are opposed to this policy.
– 67% of those that responded would like to see “Bee Inspectors” introduced.
– 55% of those that responded are not registered as beekeepers with DAFM, with 40% registered. The others ticked the ‘prefer not to say’ box. However, 58% believe beekeepers should register with DAFM.


With regards to IBAs relationships with FIBKA, NIHBS, and UBKA most of those that responded occupy the middle ground, not being wholly opposed to the concept of a relationship, but not being completely enamoured by the prospect either. Obviously, it’s not something that occupies the minds of our membership too much!


A bigger percentage of respondents are happy (41%) with the Logo than are unhappy (25%) with 33% neither happy nor unhappy.


Slightly more (41%) of those that responded would like to see the newsletter produced monthly, than every two months (25%) or quarterly (30%), however more want it less than monthly so we will continue to produce it every two months.

Interestingly, significantly fewer would be interested in paying more for a hard-copy magazine, so for the foreseeable future the newsletter will continue in its current format.

In general, people rate the newsletter highly.

While on the topic of the newsletter, the IBA owe a huge debt of gratitude to the editor, Jacqui Glisson and the ‘production team’ of Garrett Dempsey and Colette O’Connell. The newsletter does not produce itself! 

Huge work goes into getting suitable articles, editing them, and sometimes censoring them!!
There is a lot of pressure coming up to deadlines with not enough articles to fill the Newsletter. 
We need more contributors.

We also need some volunteers to take over the editing and management of the newsletter. The more volunteers we have, the less work each individual has to do. Unfortunately, the less volunteers we have, the more work there is for those that volunteer.

General Summary

In general, those that responded are happy enough with the way things are going.
There were however some (very few) extreme views expressed where narrative answers were sought.

Extreme views are not confined to one side or another, particularly in relation to the contentious issue of strains of bee! It is such a pity that reasoned debate cannot take place without descending to abusive behaviour. The IBA have endeavoured to promote an environment of mutual respect and understanding so that no beekeeper feels ostracised in what should be a friendly association of like-minded individuals.

Tolerance is a virtue that should be second nature amongst beekeepers, and within the IBA it will always be nurtured and encouraged. Abusive behaviours have no place on any of our platforms and will not be allowed. In advancing one particular side in any debate, what would be helpful would be citing published and peer reviewed academic research to support arguments. 

Standing on the side-line and shouting abuse at the other side displays a complete lack of cogent thought and has no place in beekeeping.


The Board of Directors (BOD) will continue to analyse the results of the survey. We must improve on our internal communications. With this in mind we hope to organise a meeting of all of our association secretaries in order to enhance communication between the BOD and the Associations and onwards to each individual member.

We will continue to progress the great work done on Beekeeping Education, again endeavouring to communicate what is available so that courses, workshops and lectures are not missed. We will try to establish cordial relations with all other beekeeping organisations with a view to coordinated interactions with DAFM, TEAGASC and other State Agencies.

A more detailed report on the results of the survey will be sent to all members in the first quarter of next year.

Derek Hanley
Irish Beekeepers Association clg