If you have been following our blog, you have noticed that September was a busy month for me as the Central Iowa Honey Queen. At the end of September, I visited the Norwalk Easter Public Library to do a story time.
This story time was really big. There were over fifty kids present with their adults. I started by introducing myself. Then I read the book Little Bee by Edward Gibbs.
Here I am reading the book Bee Dance by Rick Chrustowski.
After the story time, the kids got to roll a beeswax candle and color honey bee pictures.
Last September, I visited a class of preschoolers at the Science Center of Iowa. I read them books about honey bees, explained the bees life cycle, and showed them real bees in an observation hive. I also told them about the bees that live at the Science Center of Iowa.
Here I am teaching the kids about honey bee anatomy with my worker bee puppet, Abby.
In this picture, I am showing the kids a picture of a working bee fanning. Worker bees fan the air to reduce the temperature in the hive.
All the kids loved looking at the bees. Some of them were so interested in looking at the bees that they did not want to sit back down.
Sharing with the kids about bees was a lot of fun. They were super excited that the Science Center had its own bees and were eager to go find them.
One of the most important aspect of beekeeping is preparing for winter. Winter prep starts in September almost immediately after honey is harvested. We checked our hives for varroa mites last September. Varroa mites are parasitic mites that feed on the bees fat body. Most beekeepers treat the bees to kill the varroa mites. After we knew how many varroa mites were in the hive, we treated for mites with Apiguard.
In this picture, Bethany and I are evaluating our hives winter stores.
Bethany’s hive had a ton of stored honey. My hive had quite a bit, but not as much as Bethany.
Mom and Olivia prepared the hives at our home for winter. They treated the hives and checked their honey stores.
Here are Olivia and Mom inspecting Maylyn Sorority.
This nuc continued to become weaker and weaker over the fall.
Mom and Olivia put dry mop pads in the hive to treat for small hive beetles. Small hive beetles are little bugs that eat the pollen in the hive. If the hive is weak, small hive beetles can definitely kill the hive.
Last September, I visited a local school to speak to the second, first, kindergarten, and preschool class. It was fun to create programs for four different age groups that still covered the same topics.
Here I am speaking to the second grade class. I told them all about the castes of honey bees, life cycle of honey bees, and how honey is made. The students were able to look at the bees in the observation hive and taste honey. These students had been learning about honey bees.
Here I am speaking to the first grade class. They had lots of questions. They were especially excited to get a honey stick.
Here I am reading the book Little Bee by Edward Gibbs to the kindergarten class.
I spoke to the preschool class right before they headed to lunch. I read them the book Little Bee by Edward Gibbs and Bee Dance by Rich Chrustowski.
This was my first school visit. I had spoken to students before at the AG4KIDS Day. I had never done a school visit though. I really enjoyed the students excitement for and stories about honey bees.
Beekeeping is a roller coaster of good, bad, and, honestly, ugly experiences. Some years are perfect! Others, not so much. Last year had a lot of learning experiences despite some of the challenges we faced.
Note: All the links throughout this post go to our blog posts on each topic.
At the beginning of 2019, we had four hives come out of winter. Last year, we expanded to a second location. We placed two hives on a distant neighbors property. The bees at the second location did well. Mom’s hive survived summer. All three hives went into winter strong.
For the past few years, we have entered apiary products in the Iowa State Fair. It is not only a way to show off what we have learned about honey and beeswax, but also a way to fill the Iowa Honey Producers Association’s booth. In 2019, we entered in more categories then we did the year before.
Besides entering exhibits in the apiary category, my beeswax basket was selected to represent Polk County at the Iowa State Fair. It won a blue ribbon at the Iowa State Fair.
Some of us entered wet frames. Wet frames are honey frames that the honey has been extracted out of. I placed fifth in wet frames.
Mom entered honey frames. She placed third.
Because we did not get honey, Bethany, Olivia, and I entered photos. I received first place in beekeeping photography (far right). Bethany placed third in youth photography (far left). Olivia’s photo is in the middle.
Bethany’s other photo placed fifth in beekeeping photos.
Bethany, Olivia, Elianna, and I entered molded beeswax candles. Bethany placed first. Elianna placed second in the youth category. Olivia placed third. I did not place at all.
Mom, Olivia, and I entered dipped beeswax candles. Mom placed second in this category. I placed third. Olivia placed fourth.
Mom, Olivia, and I entered in beeswax art. Mom placed third. I placed fifth. Olivia placed sixth.
Bethany entered a basket in the State Fair. Her basket theme was “For a Special Drone”. She learned how to make fire starters and used many of our other products in her basket. Bethany placed third for her basket.
Working on projects for the Iowa State Fair and entering them is always a highlight of summer for us. We enjoy competing against each other to see who does best. We are thankful for the opportunity to grow and learn through the Iowa State Fair.
Throughout the Iowa State Fair, I was able to give five presentations and assist with six presentations.
The very first day of the Iowa State Fair I presented on beeswax. Olivia helped by dressing up as the Buzz the Bee.
I was able to promote Iowa honey, beeswax products, and other beehive products in my presentation. I also answered questions from the audience.
Olivia dressed up as Buzz the Bee for every presentation she could.
On Monday of the State Fair, I presented my Helping Honey Bees presentation in the 4-H building. I received a Certificate of Merit for my presentation.
On Tuesday of the State Fair, the 2019 American Honey Queen, Hannah Sjostrom, visited. I interviewed on The Big Show with her. She led a cooking with honey presentation and a basics of honey bees presentation. The North Iowa Honey Queen, Veronica, and the Iowa Honey Queen, Brooklyn, also assisted Hannah.
Here is Hannah giving her honey bee presentation. Hannah used the teaching tools to tell a story about the making of honey.
I explained what a beekeeper’s tools are and how they are used.
It was a privilege to meet Hannah and learn from her. (Left to right in the picture below are Bethany, Veronica, Hannah, myself, Brooklyn, and Olivia in the front)
My final presentations were on the final Saturday of the State Fair. I led two honey bee story times with help from the Southwest Iowa Honey Queen, JoAnn and a fellow beekeeper. After leading story times, state fair-goers were able to play honey bee themed games and do honey bee themed crafts. We, of course, handed out lots of honey sticks.
Presenting at the Iowa State Fair was a great opportunity for me to educate about honey bees, beekeeping, and the products of the hive while growing as a speaker. I learned from my fellow honey queens as well.
On August 10th, we inspected all of our backyard bees. At the beginning of the inspection, we had two nucs, a full hive with one super, and a swarm trap that caught an abscond.
In this picture, Mom is inspecting her hive and I am checking the nuc of bees we combined. Mom’s hive did not fill its super with honey. We think they were not strong enough to do so because we took brood frames from the hive in early spring to help our other hives.
The nuc combined well, but was still incredibly weak.
Our swarm trap at our house caught Olivia’s hive that absconded. When a hive absconds, they leave their home because of poor conditions. After it was in the swarm trap for about a week, we put it in a nuc.
Olivia’s hive likely absconded due to the small hive beetles that were in their hive.
I only moved the frames the bees were actually on into the nuc.
We gave the nuc other drawn out comb.
We were hopeful that Mom’s hive would do well over the winter. The nucs needed to grow significantly before they had a chance of winter survival.