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.



Abigail

A Second Year of Beekeeping in Review – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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.

The Good

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.



One of the highlights for me was being the Central Iowa Honey Queen. I was able to give twenty-four presentations and attend fourteen events. As always the Iowa State Fair is a highlight of our year. Bethany, Miriam, Olivia, and I volunteered at the Iowa Honey Producers Association’s booth at the State Fair. I was able to give presentations and assist other queens with presentation during the Iowa State Fair. We also entered in many of the apiary categories.



At the end of the year, I was crowned the 2020 Iowa Honey Queen.



The Bad

We had a very rough year last year. Between a wet spring, small hive beetles, and European Foulbrood, we lost two hives and many nucs. We even had hives abscond on us.



Because of the many challenges we faced, we were unable to harvest any honey.

This year, we will be feeding the bees to help prevent disease. We have also been using swiffer pads to try to get rid of small hive beetles.

The Ugly

The worst part of last year was when the state apiarist confirmed that my hive had European Foulbrood. We, unfortunately, were not able to save the bees.



Cleaning up after EFB was pretty gross. We ended up throwing away many of the frames.



Summary

Spring and summer were hard for us since many of our hives died. We missed not getting honey. We did learn a lot about beekeeping throughout the year. We hope to have a better year this year.

I enjoyed being the Central Iowa Honey Queen. I am excited to be the Iowa Honey Queen and have used many of the things I learned as Central Iowa Honey Queen.

Abigail

Adding a Queen to the Science Center of Iowa’s Observation Hive

In 2019, the Science Center of Iowa started a honey bee exhibit. The exhibit started out with one observation hive. Because beekeeping is such a specialized skill, the Science Center wanted to have a volunteer beekeeper to work with the bees. Mom and I are the main volunteer beekeepers for the Science Center, but Bethany and Olivia often help.

When I first visually inspected the observation hive, I noticed that they were queenless. The Science Center employ in charge of the exhibit ordered a new queen and we installed her in late July. In the picture below, we are deciding where to put the queen cage.



Here I am pressing the queen cage into the bottom frame where most of the bees are. I was careful to make sure she could still get out.



The worker bees quickly smelled the queen’s pheromones and started accepting her.



We closed the observation hive. The bees on top of the cage had to move out of the way.



The bees accepted this queen and started building up for winter. It was interesting working with an observation hive.

Abigail