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.
On August 10th, we inspected all of our backyard bees. At the beginning of the inspection, we had two nucs, a full hive with one super, and a swarm trap that caught an abscond.
In this picture, Mom is inspecting her hive and I am checking the nuc of bees we combined. Mom’s hive did not fill its super with honey. We think they were not strong enough to do so because we took brood frames from the hive in early spring to help our other hives.
The nuc combined well, but was still incredibly weak.
Our swarm trap at our house caught Olivia’s hive that absconded. When a hive absconds, they leave their home because of poor conditions. After it was in the swarm trap for about a week, we put it in a nuc.
Olivia’s hive likely absconded due to the small hive beetles that were in their hive.
I only moved the frames the bees were actually on into the nuc.
We gave the nuc other drawn out comb.
We were hopeful that Mom’s hive would do well over the winter. The nucs needed to grow significantly before they had a chance of winter survival.
July 20th was the Central Iowa Beekeepers Association’s (CIBA) Summer Field Day. In the morning, Andy Joseph gave a tour of his apiary and I activities for kids back at the venue. We then had a potluck lunch. Finally, some of the board members demonstrated their extraction tools.
In the field, we got to watch Andy Joseph (the state apiarist) go through his many hives. He showed us frames and explained them. He also told us about different diseases and pests that can be in bee hives. It is always fun to learn about bees and especially from an expert. It was also a treat to have our Dad and siblings come who are often not able to come to these meetings. – Bethany
While Bethany was out in the field learning about inspecting, I stayed back at the venue to give Honey Bee Story Time and Honey Bee Jeopardy. I have led Honey Bee Story Time before at the East Side Library. I often play Honey Bee Jeopardy at my grade school age programs. I developed it to use as a review. -Abigail
After everyone returned for the field, there was a demonstration on how to extract using a variety of methods. Cappings can be cut off using a bread knife, hot knife, or uncapping machine. We prefer the bread knife as it is inexpensive and runs a low risk of burning the honey. The different size extractors were also demonstrated. The smallest extractor is a two frame manual extractor. This extractor is powered my muscle and is a good option for a beginning beekeeper. A larger electric extractor was also used. An electric extractor is pricier, but a lot easier to use. Many electric extractors have issues with shacking. It is important to keep this in mind when looking to purchase an extractor. -Abigail