Abigail’s Presentation for the 2018 IHPA Conference

For the Iowa Honey Producers Association’s Youth Scholarship Program, Abigail gave a presentation during the Youth Scholarship Luncheon.  Our first year went well all and we learned a lot.  Abigail enjoyed sharing about her year with everyone at the luncheon.  Below is her presentation.



My name is Abigail Kelly and I live in Polk county. I would like to thank everyone who made the Youth Scholarship possible for me. I would not be able to be the beekeeper I am without the Youth Scholarship Program. I would also like to give a huge thank you to my mentors, Mike and Julie Sander. The Sanders were the beekeepers who originally got me interested in beekeeping and have been amazing mentors.

My equipment came in January and I assembled it with the help of my mentors. I attended the FBI’s beginning beekeeping classes this past winter with the Sanders and my sisters and Mom. I learned a lot from the classes and really enjoyed them. I got two packages in April. One of the packages became my hive and the other package became my sister, Bethany’s, hive. We installed our bees in April. My younger sister, Olivia, manages one of our mentor’s hives that was on our property this year. I enjoyed inspecting all our hives this spring, summer, and fall. In April, I worked the Central Iowa Beekeepers Association’s auction. I enjoyed talking to the beekeepers and seeing some interesting equipment including an uncapping machine. My sisters and I split one of the hives twice and Bethany’s hive once this summer. We harvested honey in July and extracted it in August with my mentors. We harvested about one hundred and ten pounds of honey. I entered honey, beeswax candles, a wet frame, and a honey frame in the State Fair. I received second for my honey in the youth category, fifth for my wet frame, and sixth for my honey frame. I also worked the IHPA booth at the State Fair. I really enjoyed talking about bees with fair goers and meeting other beekeepers. We treated the bees with Apiguard this fall and fed them with sugar syrup. I put the winter boxes on them last month. We am going into winter with five hives. For my record keeping, I kept a blog all year at DasselAcres.com. I am really looking forward to my second year of beekeeping.

My advice to this upcoming year’s Youth Scholarship students would be to join a beekeeping club. Beekeeping clubs are valuable sources of information and advice. My second piece of advice is read books about beekeeping now before you get your bees. Reading beekeeping books now will help you prepare for your bees. Thirdly, be in contact with your fellow IHPA Youth Scholarship Recipients. Ask about what they are up to and how their bees are doing. Share about your experiences. Finally, give back. You and I have been given so much. Find a way to give back. You can work the IHPA booth at the State Fair, help at the IHPA Summer Field Day or Annual Conference, or help your local beekeeping club.





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, DasselAcres.com.




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.






Friendly Beekeepers of Iowa July Meeting

The FBI’s July meeting was about the extraction process.


One way to get bees out of a super is to use a fume board.  A fume board has felt on one side.  A smelly substance is poured on the bottom side.  The bees do not like the scent and they leave the super.  a pro to this method is it is very effective.  Cons are that you have to get in the hives twice and that you have to buy the fume board and substance.  We ended up using just bee brushes to harvest.  We shook the frames hard which got a majority of the bees off than we used the bee brush to remove the rest of the stragglers.  A pro to this method is it is cheap.  The cons are that it takes a lot of time and the bees get really irritated.


Seventy-five to eighty-five percent of the frame should be capped before the frame is harvested.  One way to test if the honey is dehydrated enough is to bang it against something (preferably not the hive) if the honey drips out it is not dehydrated enough.  If the honey does not drip out it may be ready to harvest.  The honey that is not ready to harvested can either be left in the hive for the bees to continue to work on or they can be left above the inner cover but under the outer cover.


After harvest it is important to remember that warm honey flows faster than cold honey.  We stick our supers in the car hours before we extract.  A lot of beekeepers use hot knifes to uncap their frames.  Hot knifes can scorch honey so it is important to use one carefully.  An uncapping scratcher is a very useful tool.  Honey can be strained through a 600 paint filter.  The paint filter is not food grade though although I am sure there are similar food grade products out there.  Honey can be stored in gallon or bigger buckets with lids that have a rubber seals.  Plastic wrap can be placed on top of the honey.  The foam will be removed when the plastic wrap is pulled off.


After honey is harvested, mite treatments can be put on.  First, hives can be checked to find out what the mite load is.  A mite roll is half a cup of bees in a pint jar with a couple sprays of starter fluid.  The bees will die, but so will the mites.  The jar should be shaken really well.  The shaking knocks the mites of the bees.  Next, count the mites.  However mites are counted there are that many mites per three hundred bees.  A treatment should be picked based off of the mite load.





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.




Looking Through the Hives with the Sanders

On July 12th, the Sanders came over to look through Abigail’s hive because they were being grumpy.



Abigail is opening her hive to show Mr. Sander what is going on. Bethany is carrying the smoker over to Abigail’s hive in case it is needed. Olivia is showing Mrs. Sander her hive.IMG_4217



Olivia was done checking her hive pretty quick because she found eggs and larvae.



Here is Abigail looking at her frame. Bethany is pulling out the next frame.



The bees were filling up the first super really good.




Olivia watching everyone finish up. Notice the swarm trap in the tree. A swarm had not moved in.  We were still hoping one would.


Abigail’s hive had a ton of hive beetles. The hive beetles were making the bees mad. To try to get rid of the hive beetles, we tried hive beetle traps. The hive beetle trap did not work. We then used a unscented swiffer pads. These worked really good in Abigail’s hive. The pads caught easily twenty hive beetles in two weeks.



July 10 Hive Check

On July tenth, we checked our hives to make sure the bees were doing well. We carefully checked to make sure that the queens were laying in Bethany’s nuc and in the extra nuc.



Abigail is smoking the hive entrances. Bethany is preparing to go in the extra nuc.




Bethany pulling out the first frame of the extra nuc. Look at all the extra beeswax the bees built on top of and in between the frames.




Abigail putting the first frame on a frame holder. We bought a frame holder so that we would have a safe place to put frames we removed from the hives.




The bees had not built out this frame.



Abigail is smoking the bees around her. Bethany is looking at a frame and seeing if there are eggs on the frame.



All three girls working in the hives.



Olivia has a nice frame with some honey. Abigail is checking the bees honey supply in the supers. Bethany is opening up her nuc.



What do you see on this frame from Bethany’s nuc?



Let us take a closer look. There is some capped brood and larva. Bethany’s Queen is doing well.


All the hives were doing well. They all had eggs and a queen.



Bethany Kelly


Moving a Nuc into a Deep

On July 4th, we checked Maylyn, Green Gables (Abigail’s hive), and Lakti (Bethany’s hive). We also moved Olivia’s nuc into a deep box.



Here I am filling up our spray bottle with one to one sugar syrup. We will spray the sugar syrup on the new frames we are putting in the hive.




Mom and I smoked all of the hives.




At the beginning of every hive check, we open up all the hives we are going to check. This makes the bees defend their hive instead of trying to rob their neighbors hive.




Abigail takes the top super off of Bethany’s hive so that she can inspect the top deep box.




To move a nuc into a deep, we needed a bottom board, a deep box with four frames and a feeder, a inner cover, and a outer cover. A leveler is used to make sure that the bottom board is level.




Mom and Abigail straighten out the boxes on Bethany’s hive. We did this so that there are as few cracks as possible between the boxes. This helps the bees regulate the temperature of the hive.




We discussed how exactly we were going to move Olivia’s bees into a deep.




Mom is leveling the bottom board from back to front. A level bottom board is important because if the bottom of the hive is not level it could tip over easily. We tip the hives just the slightest bit forward so that any water can run out of the hive.




Mom then leveled the bottom board from side to side. There are two nucs in the background of this picture. Both of these nucs came from Maylyn. One of the nucs is Olivia’s hive, Primlox. The other nuc we gave to a beekeeper who lost some hives when parts of town flooded in July.



Here is Abigail inspecting Maylyn. She looked for the queen, eggs, and made sure they did not need more space. Because we split them twice the queen was relatively young. Abigail found eggs and the bees still had plenty of space.




Here is Olivia’s nuc next to the deep we moved them into.




Here is Olivia beginning to move the frames into the deep.




We put the brood frames in the middle of the deep and the resource frames went right next to the brood frames. We did this so that the bees would not overdraw the resource frames.




Olivia carefully put the frame with the queen in the middle. Olivia made sure she knew which frame the queen was on so she could be extra careful with her.




Here Olivia is putting a third frame in the deep.




Olivia inspected this brood frame to see if the queen was on it.




Olivia pushed the frames together to make sure that she could fit all the frames in the deep. Nine frames and a feeder is tight in a ten frame deep.




Here is Olivia putting in the last resource frame.




Abigail finished up inspecting Maylyn while Olivia grabbed the sugar syrup.




Olivia fed her hive because it was a small hive and they needed to build out frames and fill them with honey for winter in around four months.




We also split Bethany’s hive. We think her hive was honey bound. They were preparing to swarm when we took the queen and three brood frames and two resource frames and made a nuc. This gave the established hive new frames to draw out and put brood in. We put it on a bench in front of the rest of the hives so that the bees would re-orientate to their new hive.




We left some comb with honey in it outside on a bench. The bees quickly found it and had it dry in one day.




After a couple weeks we moved Bethany’s nuc back next to Maylyn. We now had six hives. (Five after we gave away the third nuc.)






Can You Find the Queen?

In June, we decided to mark the queen in Maylyn Sorority. The first step to marking the queen is to find the queen. We carefully went frame by frame through the hive searching for her.


Here she is. She is the bee with the really long abdomen.




Can you spot her on this frame?



The queen is fed and groomed by worker bees. These worker bees are called attendant bees.




This frame shows worker bees busily filling cells with pollen and nectar.

Here the queen is crawling to the other side of the frame to get away from what could harm her.




Honey bees will get out of the way of a mature queen. The bees, however, will not get out of the way of a virgin queen. A virgin queen is a queen that is not mated. She runs over the other bees because she does not lay eggs yet. Maylyn’s queen is a mature queen.




The bees balled up at the bottom end of this frame. When they do this a beekeeper must be careful not to crush the bees.




Can you spot the queen on this frame?




The queen is climbing to the other side of the frame in this picture.




As the queen goes over the frames, she inspects the cells. If the cell is clean enough, she lays an egg in it.




A worker bee is feeding the queen is this picture.




Olivia held the frame with the queen on it while Mr. Mike caught the queen.




Mr. Mike put the queen into a queen marking tube. The tube has wire on the end and and soft plunger to push the queen to the wire mesh.




Mr. Mike used a yellow pen to mark the queen. She is marked yellow because she was born in the year 2017. Every year has a certain color for marking the queen. Marking a queen does three things. 1) It tells the beekeeper the age of the queen, 2) it makes the queen easier to spot, and 3) it tells the beekeeper if the queen was superseded.




Here is Mr. Mike marking the queen.




Mrs. Julie put the frame carefully back in the hive.




Here we are (left to right Mr. Mike, Mrs. Julie, Bethany, Abigail, and Olivia) after our first queen marking.


It was really exciting to mark a queen. Now whenever we inspect Maylyn we can easily spot the queen.






June 9th Hive Check

On June 9th, we checked all the hives.



We opened our hives and smoked the bees to calm them down.

Here Abigail is pulling the inner cover off her hive and Bethany is smoking her hive.

This is what Abigail’s hive looked like when she opened it up.

Here is what Bethany’s hive looked like when she opened it up.

This is a frame from Bethany’s hive. The bees from the middle of the frame had emerged and the the queen laid more eggs in the cells.

Olivia is looking at a super frame to see how much honey the bees put on it.

There were so many bees in Maylyn that the bees literally overflowed the boxes.



Lots of bees means the hive is thriving which made us very happy.





May 11th Hive Check

On May 11th we just peeked into the hives, because it was raining. We wanted to make sure that the bees had plenty of room to continue to build up. Hives should not be checked when it is raining because all the bees are home.



This is what my hive looked like when we opened them up.




After a couple minutes the bees crawled into the hive to escape the rain.




Olivia is scraping off the burr comb.




The bees on this frame are filling the cells with nectar.




An entrance reducer makes the entrance smaller. This helps the bees, because than they only have to defend a small entrance.




This is what Bethany’s hive looked like when we opened it up.




This is what Maylyn looked like when we opened it up.




There where not a ton of bees in the top brood box.




We checked the bottom of the box for queen cells.




Bridge comb is the comb bees build between boxes so that they can crawl up into the next box.




The hive tool is pointing to an empty queen cell. An empty queen cell is a cell that does not have an egg in it.




There were lots of bees between the frames in the bottom brood box of Maylyn.