Our first year of beekeeping was filled with learning experiences, challenges, and fun. We loved learning more about the bees as well as learning how to care for them. All our blog posts mentioned are linked.
We say our year started at the Iowa Honey Producers Association’s Annual Conference in 2017 where Abigail received the IHPA Youth Scholarship. The conference was full of good information and was a great way to meet other beekeepers.
Our beekeeping equipment came in January. We got three huge boxes.
We built our equipment with the help of our mentors, Mike and Julie Sander. Making frames with a hammer is difficult.
Beekeeping classes are informative and help create confidence. We loved the Friendly Beekeepers of Iowa beginning beekeeping class. We blogged about each class individually. The picture is featured in 2018 Beekeeping Class: Week Three – Getting Started.
Abigail gave a beekeeping presentation at her 4-H group in March of 2018.
We completed making our equipment in March by gluing the joints and painting the boxes.
Because we knew when we were getting out bees, we were able to prepare for the bees by setting out the equipment and making sure it was all level.
The Central Iowa Beekeepers Association is a great group that has meetings every quarter and has an annual auction. We helped at the auction by helping set up, helping consignors sign in, and Abigail took pictures.
We picked up our bees on April 21st, 2018. We got two packages of bees from Spring Valley Honey in Perry, Iowa. When we got home we installed our bees right away. We started with two packages and a established hive.
We built nucs and swarm traps with the help of Mr. Sander. We used the nucs to put splits in and put up the swarm trap in hopes of catching a swarm.
We inspected our hives for the first time on April 23rd, 2018. Our bees had moved into their hives and had found their queens.
We inspected our hives on April 27th, 2018 to make sure that the bees had released their queens and were beginning to fill out the frames. We found Abigail’s queen and saw eggs in Bethany’s hive, Lakti. Maylyn Sorority was doing well.
We put up a swarm trap at our house and a swarm trap at a friend’s house. Unfortunately, we did not catch a swarm.
The bees had begun to build out their second deep on May 31st.
During our June 9th hive inspection the bees were literally overflowing.
Mr. Mike and Mrs. Julie helped us mark the queen from the established hive, Maylyn. We spotted the queen many times throughout the year.
We split Maylyn in June of last year. The nuc became Olivia’s hive Primlox.
Olivia and Mom moved Olivia’s nuc into deeps. The bees quickly adapted to their new home.
We have worked on expanding what products of the hive we make and sell. The bees made honey which we harvested, extracted, bottled, and now sell. We make candles from the beeswax from the hives. We also make two different salves.
We asked the Sanders to come over and check our hives to see if they were still doing good.
By July 21st, we had five hives and three of the hives had supers on them.
We extracted our honey with the Sanders as we did not have our own extractor.
Our beeswax candles are made from 100% beeswax. We love making them.
We bottled and labeled all of the honey in August. It was a lot of work, but it was fun to see the process coming along.
Mom, Abigail, Bethany, and Olivia all entered multiple things in the apiary category of the Iowa State Fair. We did quite well at the fair. All four of us won at least one ribbon.
Abigail, Bethany, Miriam, and Olivia all worked the Iowa Honey Producers Association’s booth at the Iowa State Fair. It was really fun to work the state fair.
Our local beekeeping group is the Des Moines Backyard Beekeepers group. The DMBB’s August meeting was about winter prep.
Plantain salve is great for bug bites, scratches, and bee stings. We wanted to make some because we often get stung while checking the bees.
Mr. Mike helped us do mite rolls so that we could find out how many varroa mites were in our hive. We treated the hives for varroa mites in September of last year.
We treated for varroa mites using Apiguard immediately following pulling off the supers. We tried multiple treatments for small hive beetles, but only swiffer sheets worked.
Beeswax lib balm is amazing. It really improves how one’s lips feel. Abigail loves making beeswax lip balm.
In our blog post Treating for Varroa Mites, we explain why we choose the treatment we choose.
We checked our bees after treatment to see how strong they were. Based on this hive check, we decided to feed the hives sugar syrup.
The Central Iowa Beekeepers Associations September meeting was at the
Dr. Amy Toth Lab Bee Field Station, in Ames, Iowa. It was an incredibly informative meeting.
Winter boxes help prevent moisture from dripping on the bees as well as provide room for mountain camping.
Every year the Iowa Honey Producers Association has a conference. The conferences are always filled with information. We were able to attend most of the first day of the conference.
Abigail received her certificate of completion of the IHPA Youth Scholarship Program on the second day of the IHPA Conference.
Abigail gave a presentation at the Iowa Honey Producers Conference during the Youth Scholarship Luncheon. She shared about her first year of beekeeping.
Our first year of beekeeping has been awesome. We have really enjoyed learning about the bees and growing our apiary. We are looking forward to continuing our adventure.