Removing Supers from the Squash Hives

Around the beginning to middle of August in Iowa, the nectar flow was coming to an end. Right after the honey flow is over you take off your honey supers and start treating the bees. All treatments take a certain amount of time to be completed and most need to be done in a certain temperature.

First we looked through our supers to see if there was any honey to harvest. We worked as a team going through one hive at a time so it would be easier to clear all the bees off any frames we would want to harvest.

We also carefully examined the frames to make sure that the frames had no brood on them. If they did have brood on them, we would have to decide whether to keep the frames in the boxes and either wait to treat the bees or treat the frames and not use them for honey or we could take the frames out and kill the brood.

Abigail (wearing the orange gloves) Is taking off burr comb. While Bethany is scraping off cross comb. Burr comb is comb built where the beekeeper does not want it. Cross comb is comb that is built the wrong way on the frame.

We decided to wait another week to hope for a late honey flow. Here Abigail is picking up her supper boxes and looking to see if there are any honey frames.

Abigail is now looking for eggs or her queen in the hives deep box.

Bethany is making sure her frames are spaced properly. After you have drawn out super frames, you keep nine frames in the super rather then the usual ten.

Sometimes the honey flow is early or late depending on the year and nectar sources. As a beekeeper, you try to keep ahead of it. Unfortunately, last years honey flow was late and we were unable to harvest any honey.


Working the IHPA Booth at the Iowa State Fair

For the past few years, us girls have spent some time at the Iowa State Fair volunteering at the Iowa Honey Producers Association’s booth. 2019 was no different.

Before the State Fair, Mom, Miriam, Olivia, and I helped by folding shirts. Many of the shirts we folded were sold at the State Fair.

On the first day of the State Fair, Bethany and Miriam worked the candle rolling station.

I worked the observation hives. I was able to share about honey bees to fair -goers.

Olivia, not surprisingly, worked the sample table on the first day. Do you think she ate more samples than she handed out?

Bethany and I worked the second day of the State Fair. Bethany worked a cash register and I worked the candle rolling station.

On Monday of the State Fair, Bethany, Miriam, and Olivia worked the booth.

On Tuesday of the State Fair, Bethany filled cups with ice. These cups were then filled with the amazing honey lemonade.

On the second Thursday of the State Fair, I once again worked the candle rolling stations. All the money raised at the candle rolling station goes to the Honey Queen Program so that the honey queen can travel around the state to educate on honey bees, beekeeping, and the products of the hive.

Our friend, Joanna, was a 2019 IHPA Youth Scholarship Recipient. She worked the state fair on the second Thursday. She and Miriam were put in charge of selling honey lemonade.

On the second Friday, I once again worked the candle rolling station.

Bethany and Olivia sold honey lemonade.

We enjoyed working the booth, meeting new people, and hanging out with friends.


July 30th Squash Hive Check

July is right in the middle of the honey flow and in beekeeping you want to stay ahead of the flow by adding plenty of suppers. You also do not want to get to far ahead where you add to many boxes making it harder for the bees protect from pests.

Here is Abigail and Bethany starting to open there hive boxes. Notice the sunflower in the corner! Bees love sunflowers.

From above you can see which frames are starting to get honey and which aren’t. If the frames do not have honey, we move to the next box which is what Bethany is doing. Abigail is pulling out frames from her top box.

Here Bethany is looking at a honey frame that possibly has brood or pollen on it. Abigail is moving her box over to the outer cover.

Bethany and Abigail are looking at frames from the brood box.

In the flower below you can see a squash bee in a squash blossom!

This is another squash bee on a flower blossom.

It was fun to see our bee hives growing! It was fun to see different bees on many blooming flowers.


Checking Olivia’s Hive and the Nuc

During July we had been keeping a steady eye on our hives because of the strange brood and rapidly decreasing numbers in our hives. During July, the hives really should have been growing!

Below Abigail and Olivia are just starting to check there hives.

Here is a picture of the weird brood we were seeing. You can see punctured cells and you can also see hive beetle larvae on this frame.

Here you can see sunken capped cells. You can also see a dead emerging bee.

Here you can see lots of hive beetle larvae they are the little white/cream colored things sliding over the cell walls.

Here is a frame of mostly empty with a little bit of pollen in the middle.

Here is the bottom board of Olivia’s hive! Look at all the dead bees.

Below is a picture of brood. you can clearly see the holes in many of the cells.

This is a picture of almost all the bees left in the hive. You can tell the numbers have not grown.

Here is a lot of the rest of the bees in the hive. You can see the queen and her worn yellow dot in the corner.

With strange looking brood and dwindling numbers we have to decide what steps to take to help these hive survive to and through winter.

Bethany Kelly

Checking Backyard Hive and Seeing the Queen Bee!

I know you will all see July and say isn’t March. We were having problems with our blog so we got a bit behind. I am happy to announce that we got our blog working and we will be getting back into the swing of things.

Here mom is taking frames out of a nuc in our back yard.

Here is a supper frame with bur comb. You can also see honey on this frame.

Below is a frame of brood. You can see larvae and capped brood. You can also see the queen she has a worn yellow spot on her thorax.

In this picture you can see the queen standing over nectar.

This is another picture of the queen! Spoiler Alert: This Picture also won a fifth place ribbon at the Iowa State Fair!

In this picture you can see eggs (if you look really closely), larvae, and capped brood.

On this frame, you can see pollen. You can tell this frame is older because the comb is much darker then the comb above.

Here is mom looking for eggs. When looking for eggs it is best to have the sun to your back. However in this shady area that can be hard.

Below Abigail is adding a empty frame to Mom’s hive.

Abigail puts “Dassel Acres” and “2019” on this frame so we know what year the frame was put in. We Put “Dassel Acres” on in case we lend out frames or they get stolen.

It is always fun to see a queen and it is even more fun to see a queen and eggs!

Bethany Kelly

Checking for Eggs in Early July

A few days after we put a queen into a hive, we had to take the queen cage out and check for eggs. Because she is a mated queen she will lay eggs right away after being released from her cage.

We fed Olivia’s hive because we gave them lots of empty frames to build out.

Here is a frame of old larvae and pupae. Notice our dad is observing the scene.


In this corner, you can see larvae and capped brood.


Another frame of old brood. Because they did not see eggs, Mom and Olivia checked the queen cage.


This is what we found in the queen cage. A queen! She had no way of getting out of this cage so we pulled a staple out of the end and put the queen in a new plastic queen cage.


With the queen safely back in a cage in the hive we went to the next hive to look for eggs. This is Mom with a frame with some fresh, white comb.


If you look closely at this frame you should be able to see eggs and larvae. Again this frame has very fresh, white comb. By the the time these eggs and larvae are adults the comb will be brown instead of white.


We packed up both hives and on the next day Olivia and Mom took out the plastic queen cage that the queen had emerged out of so it would not get covered with wax.



Seeing a Queen at Our Squash Hives

We moved splits from our house to a neighbor’s who was down the road from us we moved the boxes with queen cells and waited for the queens to emerge.

Here is Bethany and Abigail looking through the first hive.


Bethany and Abigail were actively flipping the frames.


Here is a picture of the queen! Can you also spot a drone?


It is always exciting to see a queen but is extra exciting to see the queen for her very first time.

The hives are still doing great. Those two queens are awesome!


June 6th Adventures in our Hives

Beekeeping is full of adventures including replacing queens, harvesting honey, and treating for mites. In late May, we caged the queen from Abigail’s sick hive and put her in my queenless hive.

Here is Abigail scraping off wacky comb. Wacky comb is comb the bees built where the beekeeper does not want it built.


Here is the queen cage with workers who wandered into the cage.


Can you spot the queen in this picture?


What about this picture? Can you spot the queen?


Here is Abigail pouring sugar syrup into a feeder to help the bees fight diseases and pests in the hive.


Look at that brood that is what you want to see with a good queen.


Olivia looking for eggs with the sun over her shoulder.


Can you spot any eggs? There are two in this picture that can be seen. Remember, eggs look like grains of rice.


Look at the fat drone. He has the giant eyes.


Abigail is “painting” the sugar syrup on the foundation to encourage the bees to build comb on the foundation.


Here is mom pouring sugar syrup in her hive.


Here is Olivia closing up her hive. Notice Abigail’s hive (to the left of Olivia’s hive) is closed up with duct tape. We were still in the process of euthanizing them.


We fed our hives to encourage them to build up.


Painting New Nucs

As you grow your beekeeping business you need more supplies including. In May, we got more unpainted nucs. We were planning on making a lot of splits this year so getting new nucs was important because we wanted to use nucs to make the splits. Nucs are five framed boxes with a bottom board already built in.

Here is Bethany and Abigail diligently painting nuc boxes a lovely pink (or purple, as Abigail would say).


More painting. As you can see we use red disposable cup for pouring our paint into. We refill as needed. Also notice our piles of frames. We still hadn’t cleaned our garage completely from the Central Iowa Beekeeper Association’s auction.


We do not paint a lot but when we do we make our own little party out of it.


Building Wax Melter as a 4-H Project.

A wax melter is something I was interested in for a while so finally I chose to build one for a 4-H project. I asked Mr. Sander what he used for wax melters. He showed me his favorite wax melter and gave me suggestions on how to make it better. The wax melter I made was roughly 2 feet by 30 inches.


We picked up wood and I started cutting it with my father’s ever watchful eye on me. I used a table saw to cut the wood.


I put glue in between the wood then I held it tightly together.


Then I drilled a hole in the wood for the screws and twisted a screw into the hole.


Here I am drilling a hole.


After I finished the sides of the box I traced a piece of plywood to the size of the box.


Then I cut the piece of plywood to size.


Next, I added glue to the side so I could attach the bottom.


I drilled holes for the screws so I could attach the bottom. I started in the corners then I did the rest.


I first painted the outside of the wax melter starting in the corners.


I painted three coats of paint.


After I was done painting the outside of the wax melter I let it sit overnight then did the inside.


Here I am doing the second coat.


I also painted another piece of wood that i would use when attaching the plexi-glass.


Here are some of the broken paint brushes. I suggest if you are doing your own wax melter you invest in nice brushes.


Here you can see the plexi-glass is attached.


Here I am hammering a nail into a disposable tin to make holes to strain the wax through. Do this to one pan or get a special grill pan.


I widened the holes with a screw.


Here you can see the broken plexi-glass. Plexi-glass is incredibly brittle especially when cold. You can also see the top pan has an old t-shirt that was cut up in it and wax on top of that. The top pan is the one I put the holes in.


Here is the wax melter in use. I used duct tape as a temporary fix until I got new plexi-glass.


Here is the wax after it went through the wax melter once.


The wax melter got considered for state fair but was not chosen. I am also entering to get a project award for the wax melter.

I am planning on making more to sell at the Central Iowa Beekeepers Association’s Auction in spring.