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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the past few years, we have entered apiary products in the Iowa State Fair. It is not only a way to show off what we have learned about honey and beeswax, but also a way to fill the Iowa Honey Producers Association’s booth. In 2019, we entered in more categories then we did the year before.
Besides entering exhibits in the apiary category, my beeswax basket was selected to represent Polk County at the Iowa State Fair. It won a blue ribbon at the Iowa State Fair.
Some of us entered wet frames. Wet frames are honey frames that the honey has been extracted out of. I placed fifth in wet frames.
Mom entered honey frames. She placed third.
Because we did not get honey, Bethany, Olivia, and I entered photos. I received first place in beekeeping photography (far right). Bethany placed third in youth photography (far left). Olivia’s photo is in the middle.
Bethany’s other photo placed fifth in beekeeping photos.
Bethany, Olivia, Elianna, and I entered molded beeswax candles. Bethany placed first. Elianna placed second in the youth category. Olivia placed third. I did not place at all.
Mom, Olivia, and I entered dipped beeswax candles. Mom placed second in this category. I placed third. Olivia placed fourth.
Mom, Olivia, and I entered in beeswax art. Mom placed third. I placed fifth. Olivia placed sixth.
Bethany entered a basket in the State Fair. Her basket theme was “For a Special Drone”. She learned how to make fire starters and used many of our other products in her basket. Bethany placed third for her basket.
Working on projects for the Iowa State Fair and entering them is always a highlight of summer for us. We enjoy competing against each other to see who does best. We are thankful for the opportunity to grow and learn through 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.