Inspecting the Hives with the State Apiarist

On May 29th, the state apiarist checked our bees with us. We asked him to come over because Abigail was concerned that her hive was sick. The state apiarist’s job is to inspect hives when asked to, to inspect hives coming into Iowa, and to inspect hives or equipment before the hives or equipment are sold.

He looked at Abigail’s hive first. He knew immediately that the hive was sick.


Here he is showing us a frame with sick brood on it. He is explaining what to look for when trying to identify disease.


The brood in Abigail’s hive had some signs of European Foulbrood and some signs of American Foulbrood. American Foulbrood (AFB) is much worse then European Foulbrood (EFB) because it produces spores that can last in the equipment for seventy years.


The state apiarist looked through the whole hive. By the end of the hive inspection, he was not sure if the bees had AFB or EFB. He took a sample of the diseased brood to send to the USDA lab for testing.


One of the signs that a hive has AFB is if the dead bee ropes. The rope test is done by inserting a stick or toothpick into a brood cell with a dead bee in it. the stick is then swirled in the cell and pulled out. If the bee is stretched so that it looks like it is a rope, the hive most likely has AFB. Some of the dead brood roped and others did not in our sick hive. The state apiarist was very confused about our hive.


The state apiarist suggested euthanizing Abigail’s hive to prevent the bees from infecting the other hives at our house. We euthanized them by closing up the hive completely.

Next, the state apiarist checked Bethany’s hive to see if it was infected.


The hive had no signs of EFB or AFB, but it did have a still uncapped queen cell that we had put in the hive. The bees had not allowed the queen to emerge and we have no idea why.


The state apiarist suggested giving Bethany’s hive the queen from Abigail’s sick hive. This would not infect Bethany’s hive because the queen rarely carries an infection that the hive has.

Next, we looked at Maylyn. Maylyn was doing great. They were still working on raising a queen.


The next hive we inspected was Olivia’s hive. They were also doing great.


Next, we checked the nuc with the queen in it. They were doing good. The queen had a beautiful laying pattern.


The other nuc that we had put a queen cell in had signs of EFB. This nuc had also not allowed their queen in the queen cell to emerge. We euthanized this hive as well.

The other split we had made was doing great as well. The queen was laying and the bees were very busy.

The state apiarist commended us on preventing what we suspected was disease from spreading. We washed our suits, washed our gloves with rubbing alcohol, and cleaned our hive tools by putting them in the smoker. All of this helps prevent the disease from spreading to other hives in the apiary.

The results from the USDA were that the hive had EFB. At this point, we looked into getting medicine to treat the other hives, but we could not find a vet to work with us to get the medicine so the hives remained untreated.


Hosting the Des Moines Backyard Beekeepers – May 2019

On May 23rd, we hosted the Des Moines Backyard Beekeepers at our house to do splitting demonstrations. It was, unfortunately, a cloudy day, but we went into the hives because we had already rescheduled the meeting once. We split Olivia hives by removing the queen and we split Mom’s hive by using the walk away method.

We had quite a large amount of beekeepers at our house.


Mom and Bethany started inspecting Olivia’s hive while Abigail checked her hive.


Abigail was surprised by the small number of bees in her hive. The population should have grown after it recovered from the chilled brood.


Here Abigail is showing two beekeepers the sick looking brood in her hive.


Abigail was certain that her bees were sick. She suspected European Foulbrood the be culprit of the population decline.


Abigail looked into the bottom box because she wanted to make sure that there were signs of disease in that box.


Olivia’s hive was doing great! The queen had an absolutely beautiful laying pattern.


Mom found the queen then put the frame she was on in the nuc. The bees in the hive would then make a new queen.


Here is everyone trying to spot the queen.


We did not have very much drawn comb so we put an empty frame in with the queen split. The bees would build out the frames in the coming months.


Mom put two frames of brood and a good resource frame in the queen split.


We put the queen nuc by the garage so that the bees would re-orientate to their new home.


Here is Abigail starting to open Maylyn. Maylyn is a three year old hive. Maylyn already had a super on it in May!


We demonstrated how to do a walk away split with Maylyn.


We made sure that there was brood in both deep boxes. The top box has beautiful frames of brood.


The bottom box also had brood in it.


We moved the top box (with the queen in it) to by the garage so that the bees would re-orientate to their new location.


We transferred some of the frames in a nuc because the box was too heavy for us to carry.


Here Bethany is putting the frames in the nuc back in the deep.


Abigail put the super back on the deep at the back of the yard. We let the bees have three weeks to raise a new queen.


Here is Abigail closing up Maylyn.


We now had one strong two deep hive. We wanted to let the bees build up before giving them a super.

We had a two deep, queenless hive. We gave them three weeks to raise a queen.

We had a sick two deep plus a super hive. We called the state apiarist and asked him to come out and look at it.

We had a one deep plus a super queenless hive. We gave them three weeks to raise a queen. We left the super on so that they would not fill the bottom box with honey.

We had a one deep hive. We watched them carefully and gave them more room when they needed it.

And we had a nuc that we also watched carefully and added more room when they needed it.


Inspecting Green Gables with the State Inspector

In early May, Abigail noticed that something did not seem quite right with her hive, Green Gables. We contacted one of the state inspector and he came out to inspect the hive with us.

Here he is looking at a brood frame.

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He immediately noticed the sick looking brood, but thought that they had probably got chilled. Chilled brood is brood that froze to death because the bees could not keep them warm.

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The state inspector said that the brood had just been chilled. The hive should have started to grow in size. The next hive inspection should show a thriving hive.


Adventures with Ed and Cathy

On May 24th, Bethany, Abigail, and Mom helped Ed and Cathy with a unusual swarm situation. While we were at their house, we looked through their other hives with them.

Here we are looking at a flourishing hive. The bottom box was full of bees so we added a second deep.


Here we are looking at a frame. We helped Ed and Cathy spot eggs on their frame.


This is the hive the swarm came out of. The swarm moved to the tree.


As we were about to leave, we looked at some bees on the ground and spotted a queen with a cluster of bees. We caught the queen and put her in a plastic container.


Next, Bethany and Cathy took the queen into a car and caged her.


Here we are with the container with the caged queen and attendants in it.


I believe we put this queen with some of the frames from the table hive in a nuc. Last I heard, all three hives are doing well. Hopefully, they continue to do so.


Treating the Hives with Oxalic Acid January 2019

In January, we treated our hives for mites with oxalix acid. Oxalix acid is often used to treat for varroa mites in the winter when there is no brood in the hive. The Sanders came over to help us treat because they had the equipment needed and experience treating with oxalic acid.

Oxalic acid is vaporized into the hive. Because oxalic acid is dangerous when breathed in, anyone vaporizing must wear a respirator to prevent the breathing in of the oxalic acid.


Both Abigail and Bethany were able to help treat the hives. Before either of them helped, they were told how the treatment had to be done. First, the entrances are plugged except for where the vaporizer goes. The powdered oxalic acid is poured into part of the vaporizer. The vaporizer is then stuck into one of the entrances and flipped. The vaporizer is left in the hive for a little bit then removed.


We treated all five hives. This treatment was not a main treatment. It was a clean up treatment that helped give the bees a lower mite count going into spring.


The 2018 IHPA Annual Conference – Day Two

The second day of the Iowa Honey Producers Conference included more presentations and the Youth Scholarship Luncheon. Here is the link to our blog post on the first day of the IHPA conference. Saturday started with the introduction of the new board and the contest awards.

Abigail and Olivia laid out the name tags for the Youth Scholarship Recipients.


The map shows where the Youth Scholarship Recipients are located.


The first presentation we sat in on was Varroa Feed on Hemolymph and Two Other Alternate Facts given by Dr. Sammy Ramsey. Dr. Ramsey began his presentation by stating that varroa mites wiped out feral bees around 1997, ten years after their arrival. The purpose of Dr. Ramsey’s presentation was to walk through the process of how he discovered that varroa mites do not feed on Hemolymph (blood).

What varroa mites feed on has not been confirmed because their feeding behavior is very hard to observe. The first hypothesis Dr. Ramsey developed was mite digestive system and excrement shows similarities to other hemolymph or fluid feeding arthropods. This theory expects that varroa mite feces is very watery because hemolymph has a high water content. He observed, however, was >95% guanine with very little water content. Another expected proof based on this theory is the digestive system has a filter chamber-like modification perfect for digesting hemolymph. The observed was that their were no modifications to shunt excess water away from midgut. This means that the varroa mite’s digestive system is not made for digesting hemolymph. So there is no proof that the mite digestive system and excrement show similarities to other hemolymph or fluid feeding arthropods.

The second hypothesis Dr. Ramsey developed was varroa mite lineage shows that varroa mites are closely related to other lymph feeders. The expected is that varroa are closely related to other dilute fluid-feeding mites. Mites, however, are closely related to predatory mites that feed through extra-oral digestion. When varroa mites were compared to these other mites, it was found that they share similar digestive system structuring.

The third hypothesis Dr. Ramsey developed to prove that varroa mites feed on hemolymph was varroa mites are observed feeding wherever hemolymph is present. The expected is that the varroa mites are able to feed from a variety of location. Varroa mites, however, strongly prefer the underside of the bees thorax and abdomen.

The next hypothesis is varroa feed exclusively on the hemolymph of adult and immature bees. Of course, this hypothesis is automatically wrong if varroa mites do not feed on hemolymph.

The next hypothesis is varroa mites will usually be found on top of the worker bee’s thorax. This is false. Varroa mites are most often found on the underside of the bees thorax and abdomen.

When a varroa mite is on an adult bee it feeds on the bee. The mite pushes itself between the bees plates and the mite pierces multiple layers of soft tissue. The varroa mite than sucks out some of the bees fat body (which acts as the bee’s liver) and uses extra oral digestion to digest it. Varroa mites do not feed on hemolymph, but on fat body.

Varroa mites feeding on the honey bees’ fat body effects the honey bees’ growth and development, metamorphosis, nutrient storage and mobilization, metabolic activity, water loss and osmoregulation (this has to do with the control of water in the honey bee’s body), temperature regulation, pesticide detoxification, protein synthesis, immune function, and viteliogenesis (part of reproduction). As you can see varroa mites feeding on honey bees result in all sort of problems in the bees body which causes problems in the colony. It is incredibly important that beekeepers know how to prevent varroa mites from overrunning their hives.

What should the change in our knowledge of what varroa mites actually feed on cause beekeepers to do? It should cause us to reevaluate how we treat for them. Here is the link to Dr. Ramsey’s Facebook page.

Dr. Ramsey’s interview in Bee Culture.

Academic article explaining the research and results.

Beekeeping Today Podcast.

The second presentation was given by Dr. Megan Milbrath. Her presentation was entitled Do You Know What to Do about American Foulbrood. American Foulbrood is a bacteria and can form spores. AFB is environmentally stable. It has been around since around 1967 and has the potential to devastate a beekeeping operation. AFB is not related to European Foulbrood (EFB). There is only one type of AFB in America and it has a lower virulence. Fun fact: Humans can get AFB only if they inject honey with AFB spores into their bloodstream. (Do NOT inject honey into your bloodstream!)

How does AFB get spread? AFB is often spread by a beekeeper moving equipment around in a apiary or between apiaries. AFB can also be spread through robbing or swarming. Unlike a lot of honey bee diseases, AFB is not brought on by stress. AFB is also not caused by a failing queen. To prevent AFB from spreading beekeepers can practice good hive hygiene. They can wash their hands between apiary locations and wear gloves. Another important step to prevent the spreading of AFB is to clean hive tools between apiary locations. Hive tools can be cleaned with bleach or they can be cleaned with flame. A lot of beekeepers will stick their hive tools in their smokers to clean them.

It takes less than ten AFB spores to cause a hive to be infected. The spores only effect larvae at 12-48 hours. The larvae are often fed food with AFB spores in it. Nurse bees spread AFB because the spores can remain in nurse bee’s crops. The first step to a hive becoming infected is the introduction of spores. Once spores are introduced and the proper conditions exist the spores germinate. Next the spores reproduce. Once their is no more food for itself, the disease turns back into spores. AFB kills bees from the inside out. The honey bee larvae eat food infected with AFB spores and the spores fill the larvae’s intestine. The spores actually disintegrates the bee from the inside. The larvae dies just as it is being capped.

How can a beekeeper prevent AFB? AFB is not yet a normal occurrence and practicing good hive hygiene helps prevent it. Once AFB is in a hive, there is nothing a beekeeper can do to get rid of it because spores last for up to seventy years. Early detection is key to preventing AFB from spreading. Three signs of AFB that are not unique to AFB are a spotty brood pattern, sunken cappings, and holes in cappings. A spotty brood pattern may be a sign of AFB because some of the larvae dies due to AFB, but some of the larvae makes it to adulthood. Sunken cappings may be a sign of AFB because the larvae died after being capped and the cappings sunk because the disintegrated larvae did not keep them up. Hole in cappings are a sign that the bee died before it could be completely capped. Three signs of AFB unique to AFB are caramel colored dead larvae, pupal tongue sticking out, larvael scales, and the characteristic smell. When a hive is infected with AFB, the dead larvae are caramel covered and their tongues are sticking out. Caramel colored brood and sticking out tongues are not always present in a hive infected with AFB and not every beekeeper can smell the characteristic smell. The dead larvae appear scaly on the frame of a hive infected with AFB.

If a beekeeper suspects he has AFB, he should take a field test and send a sample into the National Laboratory. There are four types of tests their are commercial diagnostic tests, the match stick test, the Holst milk test, and the Elisa test. If you would like to know more about any of these tests, google them. In Iowa, AFB is a reportable disease. If a beekeeper has AFB, some states require him to burn the hive (equipment and bees) and bury the ashes. In Iowa a beekeeper must destroy all the bees and the comb. Here is the link to the Iowa government page that describes protocol for AFB. Not all states require that the equipment be burned. The goal of the beekeeper is to stop the infection and to prevent the spores from forming. Dr. Milbrath said that the best option is to burn at least the comb and the bees. Bees and equipment can also be disposed by being double bagged in contractor’s bags and disposed at the landfill. If everything does not have to be burned, then the beekeeper can shake the bees into a completely new hive, treated with antibiotics, and the yard should be treated as a quarantine for a whole year. The antibiotics should be transitionally stopped throughout the year. Equipment that is not burned should always be sterilized.

AFB can infect any colony and spreads easy. Eliminating the spores is critical to preventing AFB. Bees with hygienic behavior may be good at preventing AFB from spreading. Here is the link to Dr. Milbrath’s website.

Our friend, Joanna, is a 2019 IHPA Youth Scholarship Recipient. Before lunch, Abigail, Joanna, and the 2018 and 2019 IHPA Youth Scholarship Recipients socialized and shared their years and talked bees.


Here are Mom and Olivia waiting for the Youth Scholarship Lunch to begin.


Here is Olivia, Mr. Mike, and Abigail talking about Abigail’s first year of beekeeping.


Here is Abigail giving her presentation. We blogged her presentation in this blog post.


Here is Abigail receiving her certificate of completion and Mr. Mike receiving his award for being a mentor.


Here is Abigail and Mr. Mike with their certificates.


Here are the 2019 Youth Scholarship Recipients. We wish them all the luck as they begin their beekeeping adventure.


The next presentation Abigail and Miriam sat in on was Very Advanced Queen Rearing by Dr. Tom Repas. The first question he posed was “Why would a beekeeper rear a queen?” One reason is cost. A “homemade” queen is free. She is also available whenever you can make her. The selection is much greater when a beekeeper makes his own queens because a beekeeper never makes just one queen. A beekeeper may choose to sell his queens which can be a source of income. Home reared queens tend to have a higher quality than bought queens. Since queen quality is so important, Dr. Repas explained what it is. A quality queen lays a large number of quality bee, produces viable offspring, and passes on genetics. A poor queen will create a less productive colony; while a productive queen will create a strong, productive hive. A longer queen is a better queen.

The quality of a queen is based on how she was raised, how healthy she is, and how well inseminated she is. Bees can raise their own queens and often do. An emergency queen the bees raise may not be as high quality a queen. A grafted queen is a queen a beekeeper decides the bees need to raise but not keep. The age of the larvae when grafted is very important. Small, young larvae are best for grafting. A beekeeper must know what kind of chemicals are around when he is grafting. Chemicals can affect the queens biology and physiology. Nosema and varroa caused viruses can effect the quality of the queen. Honey production is related to the queen’s quality.

Genetic diversity in a queen results in higher colony productivity, reduced brood diseases, and greater colony survival. New genetics are not introduced often into a hive. Well mated queens will create diverse offspring. Dr. Repas said that five million or more stored sperm cells in a queen is ideal. Poorly mated queens are more common in queens raised in the spring and late in the year.

The rate of supersedure is significantly less for local queens. This difference in supersedure is due to transporter stress. The longer a queen is allowed to lay before shipment increases her chances of acceptance. Supplemental feeding may not have an effect on queens. Honey bees should only be fed when needed. Feeding increases acceptance rate.

How should queens be assessed? Queens performance, physical characteristics, and health should all be monitored. She should have skipped less than 10% of the cells on a frame. There should be the proper amount of drones in the hive which varies depending on the time of year.

What practices are essential to making quality queens. A good breeder queen will produce quality queens. Some queens are just not fit to make queens and after a couple years queens are no longer viable and need to be replaced. Queen producing colonies should be well fed. Queen producing colonies can be additionally fed to be sure they are strong and healthy. There should be lots of unrelated drones around when queens are produced. This helps ensure diverse genetics. Warm, sunny days are preferred for queen rearing.

There are a couple different ways to go about making a queen. Three ways are mating nucs, emergency response, and an overcrowded, well-fed hive. A mating nuc is used because the beekeeper wants to have a small, easily controlled hive to make queens in. Emergency response is not a good way to make queens because emergency queens are not often quality queens. Some beekeepers make queens in overcrowded, well-fed hives. The bees make queens in this hive because they are so crowded that they want to swarm. The beekeeper then keeps the queens and does not let the bees swarm.

Next Dr. Repas described how to make a queen. If you are interested in learning about how beekeepers make queens, I would suggest watching some YouTube videos. I am not going to write out the process here because it is very complex and I am not sure I understand all the steps yet. Dr. Repas main point was well-bred, well-fed, and well-mated queens is the goal of raising queens.

Ellen Bell also gave a presentation on queen rearing. She gave it at the same time as Dr. Repas so Mom, Bethany, and Olivia sat in on her presentation. Ellen Bell stressed the importance of local queens and how they are more reliable than queens that have been brought in. She said it is especially important to make queens from overwintered colonies because the beekeeper knows they are hardy bees.


One good way to collect and keep data is through Facebook bee groups and bee clubs. Our blog is even a way to collect data because we share what we have learned and what we have done. By electrically monitoring beehives, a beekeeper can learn what is going on in their hives. The benefit of electronic monitoring is being able to constantly check on them. A beekeeper can electrically monitor their hive’s weight, temperature, humidity, sound, motion, and video. All of this data can be collected and kept for comparisons. A beekeeper then can compare how beekeeping has changed throughout the years. Fun fact: One bee weighs 1/10 of a gram.

The final presentation we sat in was Treatment Free Beekeeping presented by Joy Westercamp, the 2018 IHPA Honey Queen. She started her presentation by saying that every beekeeper defines “treatment free” differently. Joy defines “treatment free” as not using any chemicals. Joy has been treatment free for seven of eight years. She has Minnesota hygienics bees. She uses screened bottom boards that she leaves open all year long. She does brood brakes for her comb honey hives and drone frames in every hive body.

Why would a beekeeper be treatment free? One reason is the beekeeper does not have to spend any time or money on treatments. Another reason is some pests and diseases are resistant to treatments and more and more are becoming resistant. Some treatments can be harmed by chemicals. This is especially true if the beekeeper uses the chemical incorrectly. The beekeeper can be harmed by some of the chemicals. For example, if a beekeeper does not wear a respirator when vaporizing oxalic acid, he may be harmed by breathing it in. The final reason is some consumers prefer to buy honey and other products from treatment free beekeepers.

How does a beekeeper prevent pests and diseases from overtaking their hives if they are treatment free? A treatment free beekeeper uses some specific management practices. Brood breaks are used by treatment free beekeepers to prevent varroa mites from overrunning the colony. Brood breaks prevent the varroa mites from reproducing. A beekeeper will split or replace the queen to create a brood break. Drone trapping is another method of varroa mite prevention. Varroa mites prefer to reproduce in drone cells. A beekeeper will put a drone frame into the hive and the bees will build it out and have the queen lay eggs in the cells. Then, once the brood is capped, the beekeeper will pull out the drone frame, freeze the frame, then will scratch open the cells, and count how many mites are on the brood. A treatment free beekeeper may use a screened bottom board to prevent the buildup of varroa mites. When the varroa mites fall of the bees, the mites fall through the screen. Another varroa prevention method is sprinkling powder sugar on the top of the boxes. The varroa mites will either be knocked off the bees or the bees will clean them off. Then the varroa mites will fall to the bottom of the hive where they will either fall through a screened bottom board or stick to a tray with petroleum jelly on it. A treatment free beekeeper will feed yearly and often to keep the bees strong and healthy. Treatment free beekeepers will break down their small unproductive colonies. Treatment free beekeepers try to only keep the strongest hives because then eventually only strong stock will be around. TF beekeepers cull their comb early and often. Comb culling prevents the buildup of diseases. Resistant stocks is what treatment free beekeepers like to have. Russians, varroa sensitive hygienics (VSH), Minnesota hygienics, and Purdue ankle biters are some of the more common resistant stocks. Hygienic behavior can help with AFB (as discussed above), chalkbrood, virus loads, deformed wing virus, and Kashmir virus.

The IHPA was an excellent, information packed conference. We really enjoyed it and learned a lot. We are very excited for the 2019 conference.


Working a Vendor Fair with Mrs. Sander

Vendor fairs are good ways to market a product. Mrs. Sander works quite a few vendor fairs and let us tag along with her in November. We watched her talk to costumers and learned how she keeps track of what she sold. We learned a lot about the business side of beekeeping from Mrs. Sander.

Mrs. Sander uses pieces of wood to create texture on the table. The table cloth gives the table a more professional appearance. The prices are on the brown sign in the middle of the table. Our lip balm is in small Mason jars. The Mason jars allow for sorting and are an inexpensive, but classic container.


Here are Olivia, Abigail, and Bethany by the MJ’s Hometown Honey table. We are each holding our favorite candle.


We learned a lot from Mrs. Sander and even ran a vendor fair for her in December.


Mite Rolls August 2018

Mite rolls show how many varroa mites are in a colony. If you don’t know what varroa mites are know this, we have blogged about them here.

Some people do not do mite rolls because they are already going to treat so why waste time mite rolling if no matter what it says you will treat? Others only treat if their hives have over a certain amount of mites because if there is only a few why waste money treating every hive. We however were treating no matter what and we were going to mite roll. Why? One reason is we wanted to learn how to do it. Another reason is information. Now we know how many mites we have and know if that hive dies we have a guess if the treatment failed or if the hive was already dead before we treated it.

We decided to mite roll only three hives because then we would get a general idea of the mite count and two of the hives had a brood break which reduces the number of mites in the hive. Mites get shared throughout the whole apiary.


We are all looking for the queen so we do not kill her in the mite roll.


We found a brood frame without the queen and Mr. Sander showed us how to roll down the bees backs and they would fall right into the jar. We used a brood frame because mites reproduce in brood cells and we would get a more accurate number.


Mr. Sander sprayed the hive with ether. Some people use powder sugar instead because it doesn’t kill the bees, but we used ether because that is what the Sanders suggested.


Here we are looking at the bees to see if we can spot any mites. We used a white bucket lid so that we could see the mite easier. Our mite count was four per three hundred. We treated with Apiguard.


Here is a frame that had a queen cup on it. See the destroyed wax that is hanging down in the middle of the frame.


Here are lots of bees on the inner cover.


Here is a drone frame that we feed to our chicken this will help with the mite load since mites love drone bees.


See if you can spot eggs on this frame. They look like grains of rice.


Or maybe you can spot eggs on this frame.



Abigail’s First Year of Beekeeping

This past weekend at the Iowa Honey Producers Association’s annual conference Abigail received her official certificate of completion of the IHPA Youth Scholarship Program.  Abigail made a tri-fold to share about her first year of beekeeping.  All of the following pictures and captions were on the tri-fold.


My name is Abigail Kelly and I am a 2018 Iowa Honey Producers Association Youth Scholarship Recipient. I became interested in beekeeping when Mike and Julie Sander placed two hives on our property in 2016. The Sanders let my siblings and I inspect the hives with them. This started my love for beekeeping. In 2017, the Sanders told us about the IHPA Youth Scholarship Program and my sister, Bethany, and I applied. I received the scholarship. The Sanders became my mentors. Bethany got one of the two packages we got this April and I got the other. My first year of beekeeping has been a wonderful experience. I have gotten to see the queen lay eggs, bees emerging, and my hive grow. I got to split two different hives for a total of three splits, harvest and extract honey, and treat bees for varroa mites. A huge thank you to everyone who has made the IHPA Youth Scholarship Program possible and to my mentors who have taught me so much. As part of my IHPA Youth Scholarship experience, I have kept my record on my blog,




Here we are picking up our packages from Spring Valley Honey in Perry, Iowa.

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Me with my suit after it arrived in January.




Me pouring my bees into their new home.




Julie Sander, Olivia, Bethany, and I after a hive inspection.




A queen! We spotted queens quite a lot while checking our hives, but, of course, we never could spot her when we were looking for her.




I gave a presentation to my 4-H group on beekeeping in March.IMG_3017



The Sanders helping us inspect our hives.






Mike and Julie helped us extract our first honey harvest. We ended up with about one hundred and ten pounds of honey.






Extraction Day 2018

We extracted in August before the Iowa State Fair so that we could enter some of our honey into the Fair. Because we do not have an extractor and they cost a lot, we extracted with the Sanders.



Here Olivia is cutting the capping off a frame. The Sanders have a great uncapping set up. They have a five gallon bucket with a piece of wood notched so that it fits across the bucket’s circumference. On the piece of wood there is  a screw. Just a little bit of pointy side of the screw pops through the wood. The frame sits on the screw as the frame is being uncapped.




To uncap a frame, first you saw up into the cappings from about a third of the way down the frame. Then you saw down the whole frame. If the knife cannot uncap part of the frame you use a cappings scratchier to uncap the rest of the cells. It is important to uncap all the cells because if all the cells are not uncapped, all of the honey will not be extracted. Here Bethany uncaps a frame. The cappings can be used in creams and cosmetics.




The honey poured out of a honey gate on the bottom of the extractor. Abigail held the bucket in place while the extractor ran to prevent the honey from spilling. The blue green thing on the wood piece is the cappings scratchier.



Here we are after we finished our first extraction. (Left to right: Mrs. Sander, Mr. Sander, Olivia up front, Abigail, and Bethany.)




We extracted 75.4 pounds from 23 frames of honey!




We stored our honey in food grade buckets. We put plastic wrap on the honey. The foam sticks to the plastic wrap and is easy to remove. We let our honey sit for about a week to let the foam rise to the top.




It was super fun to extract with our mentors. The honey tasted really good.