Dassel Acres Featured on Farm News

Last month, Abigail was interviewed by Farm News. She shared about how we got into beekeeping as well as her time as Iowa Honey Queen. Media interviews like this one are a great way for real beekeepers to increase awareness and understanding about beekeeping and honey bee. Be sure to give the article a read!

Central Iowa Honey Queen Reign In Review

My reign as Central Iowa Honey Queen ended in November of 2019. I had a very successful reign both in my programs and in personal growth. I could not have succeeded as the Central Iowa Honey Queen without support from my family, mentors, and the organization.

I had about twenty-five programs during my reign. I spoke to all ages and about many aspects of honey bees. I traveled all around central Iowa with my farthest North destination being Madrid and my farthest South being Winterset. My most popular presentations were my story time and lip balm making demonstration. I loved giving both of these presentations. Another aspect of being Honey Queen was maintaining the CIBA Honey Queen Facebook Page. I posted over seventy times. Most of my posts were either reviews of each individual program or a series I called “Trivia Tuesday.” Every(ish) Tuesday, I posted a question relating to honey bees for the page’s followers to answer. I enjoyed interacting with those who support the program.

I learned many things while fulfilling my role as Honey Queen. I grew much as a public speaker. After giving the same presentations over and over, I was able to focus on my presentation skills rather than writing the presentations themselves. Nerves decreased over time. My interpersonal communication skills also improved through communicating with my program hosts.

My family was so supportive of my reign. My mom drove me to every program. She critiqued my presentations and edited many outlines. My siblings helped me pack my supplies and often came with me. Without the Sanders, my beekeeping mentors, introducing me to beekeeping and the Central Iowa Beekeepers Association, I never would have been honey queen. Without CIBA and its members, I would not have been able to afford to travel around central Iowa to give presentations.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share my passion about honey bees! I am so thankful for the many ways being honey queen helped me to grow.

Abigail Kelly

Final Central Iowa Honey Queen Programs

At the end of 2019, I had four final programs as the Central Iowa Honey Queen. All four programs were at libraries.

The first program was at the Bondurant Community Library. Although this program was an afterschool program a mixed group of ages attended. I shared about the basics of beekeeping. As a review at the end of the program, the attendees played Honey Bee Jeopardy.

This group loved Honey Bee Jeopardy. They even got competitive!

My next program was at the Waukee Public Library. I was the special guest at a nonfiction book club! After the discussion of the book the club had read, I shared about what it is like to be a beekeeper. At the end, the kids tried a variety of honeys including local honey, Pennsylvanian honey, creamed honey, and comb honey. It was fun to see which honey was each kid’s favorite.

Here I am sharing about beekeeping.

The taste test was a hit with the kids!

My final two programs were both at the Ankeny Public Library. The first program was story time. I read my two favorite honey bee books, Bee Dance and Little Bee. My second program at this library was for teens. First, I explained the basics of beekeeping and where beeswax comes from. Then I showed the group how to make lip balm with beeswax. The teens enjoyed helping me with the lip balm as well as taking one home.

Here I am sharing about life inside the hive.

I really enjoyed my time as Central Iowa Honey Queen. Be sure to watch for a posts sharing about what I learned and what I did after my reign ended.


Where Have We Been?

Where have we been? The better question is probably “what have we been up to?” I started college a year and a half ago, and Bethany began college (as a dual enrolled high schooler) almost a year ago. I also have been fulfilling duties as Honey Queen for the last couple of years. All of this has added up to make us very busy.

I am hoping to keep up with the blog better. It may not be a new post every week, but hopefully it will be more consistent. Stay tuned.


Story Time in Norwalk

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.


Visiting the Science Center of Iowa’s Preschool

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.


Checking the Bees at the Science Center of Iowa

Last fall, we pulled the bees out of the observation hive at the Science Center of Iowa and put them into a nuc. We hoped this would help them survive winter.

Here I am pulling out a frame to inspect it.

The hive was pretty small. We expected this because they had been kept in an observation hive all summer.

Bethany also helped inspect the hive. We fed them both sugar syrup and pollen patty during the fall to help them build up.


Preparing for Winter

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.


Visiting a School

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.


Sometimes There Is Nothing You Can Do

We try to inspect our hives every week to every other week in the spring in summer. Unfortunately, sometimes something awful happens to the bees during a week and there is no way to fix it.

Here I am closing up Mom’s hive. Mom’s hive is doing wonderful. The rest of the nucs at our house were not doing so great.

Here I am inspecting the nuc up by the garage. The nuc had no bees left in it. The bees had not raised a viable queen so they died.

There wasn’t even a handful of bees left in the nuc. We froze the frames to prevent bugs from moving in and put the nuc box away in the garage.

This nuc died due to queen failure which was probably in part due to small hive beetles and the time of year (late August).