Presenting at the Iowa State Fair

Throughout the Iowa State Fair, I was able to give five presentations and assist with six presentations.

The very first day of the Iowa State Fair I presented on beeswax. Olivia helped by dressing up as the Buzz the Bee.



I was able to promote Iowa honey, beeswax products, and other beehive products in my presentation. I also answered questions from the audience.



Olivia dressed up as Buzz the Bee for every presentation she could.



On Monday of the State Fair, I presented my Helping Honey Bees presentation in the 4-H building. I received a Certificate of Merit for my presentation.



On Tuesday of the State Fair, the 2019 American Honey Queen, Hannah Sjostrom, visited. I interviewed on The Big Show with her. She led a cooking with honey presentation and a basics of honey bees presentation. The North Iowa Honey Queen, Veronica, and the Iowa Honey Queen, Brooklyn, also assisted Hannah.



Here is Hannah giving her honey bee presentation. Hannah used the teaching tools to tell a story about the making of honey.



I explained what a beekeeper’s tools are and how they are used.



It was a privilege to meet Hannah and learn from her. (Left to right in the picture below are Bethany, Veronica, Hannah, myself, Brooklyn, and Olivia in the front)



On Wednesday, I assisted the Friendly Beekeepers of Iowa Honey Queen, Emma, with two cooking with honey demonstrations. Emma writes regular cooking with honey articles in the Iowa Honey Producers Association’s newsletter.

On the second Thursday of the State Fair, I assisted the State Apiarist, Andy Joseph, with a presentation. Mom and Dad were at the State Fair and stopped by for the presentation.

On the second Friday of the State Fair, I presented my Helping Honey Bees presentation.

My final presentations were on the final Saturday of the State Fair. I led two honey bee story times with help from the Southwest Iowa Honey Queen, JoAnn and a fellow beekeeper. After leading story times, state fair-goers were able to play honey bee themed games and do honey bee themed crafts. We, of course, handed out lots of honey sticks.

Presenting at the Iowa State Fair was a great opportunity for me to educate about honey bees, beekeeping, and the products of the hive while growing as a speaker. I learned from my fellow honey queens as well.

Abigail

Hive Inspection August 10th

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.

Abigail

Combining Two Nucs

In August, we combined two weak nucs. We combined the hives to give them a better chance of surviving the winter.

This is one of the splits that we combined. It was weak because of small hive beetles that overran the hive.



Here are the bees trying to crawl through the opening after we combined the hive. Eventually all the bees orientated to the new hive.



We gave them an upper entrance as well so that the upper box bees would not get too confused.



The newspaper helps prevent the bees from fighting each other. By the time the bees chewed through the newspaper, the bees are used to each other.



The bees got used to each other quickly. They did not grow well, however. More to come in a future blog post.

Abigail

North Side Public Library Honey Bee Story Time

On August 1st, I led honey bee story time at the North Side Branch of the Des Moines Public Library. This story time was part of my Central Iowa Honey Queenship

First, I read the book Little Bee by Edward Gibbs. As you probably know by know, I love using this book to teach why honey bees sting. Honey bees do not like to sting people. They sting mostly to protect the hive.



Here I am reading the book Bee Dance by Rick Chrustowski. Bee Dance is my all time favorite children’s honey bee book.



Here I am teaching the kids how to do the waggle dance. The kids then went around the room to collect nectar and pollen from the paper flowers.



I love these pictures that were given to me. The picture in the photo below is my favorite because it can be used to teach about pollen baskets, pollination, or even the effect of chemicals on honey bees.



Here I am teaching about the life cycle of honey bees.



The kids at this program were very attentive. After story time, they were able to color honey bee themed coloring sheets.

Abigail

July 30th Squash Hive Check

July is right in the middle of the honey flow and in beekeeping you want to stay ahead of the flow by adding plenty of suppers. You also do not want to get to far ahead where you add to many boxes making it harder for the bees protect from pests.

Here is Abigail and Bethany starting to open there hive boxes. Notice the sunflower in the corner! Bees love sunflowers.



From above you can see which frames are starting to get honey and which aren’t. If the frames do not have honey, we move to the next box which is what Bethany is doing. Abigail is pulling out frames from her top box.



Here Bethany is looking at a honey frame that possibly has brood or pollen on it. Abigail is moving her box over to the outer cover.



Bethany and Abigail are looking at frames from the brood box.



In the flower below you can see a squash bee in a squash blossom!



This is another squash bee on a flower blossom.


It was fun to see our bee hives growing! It was fun to see different bees on many blooming flowers.

Bethany

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

Petting an “Swarm”

In July, one of our hives absconded from their home. When honey bees abscond, they have decided their old home is unsatisfactory and will go find a new one. Unfortunately when you catch an abscond it often will just abscond again.

We considered catching this abscond, but the wire on the post they choose to land on would have made it difficult.



Absconds, like swarms, are very gentle and can be touched. Mom still suited up and wore gloves to pet them.



Bethany petted the swarm with her bare hand.



I also petted the abscond. I was not going to let this opportunity pass me by.



Our five year old brother fearlessly petted the swarm. We were not surprised as he often stands less then two feet from a hive entrance to observe the bees.



Our other younger brother also petted the swarm after the littlest one did.



In this picture you can see the queen bee separating herself from the cluster of bees. Her attendant bees followed her to take care of her.



Can you spot the queen in this picture? She returned to her cluster and allowed the bees to cover her.



Below is a video we took of the abscond. Click on the image to watch it. Enjoy the random commentary.

MVI_1832

The abscond found a home somewhere other then our equipment. We decided to let the bees decide where their new home would be because they were an abscond not a swarm.

Abigail

2019 Warren County Fair

On July 26th, Bethany and I volunteered at the Friendly Beekeepers of Iowa booth at the Warren County Fair. We spent the day sharing about honey bees with fair-goers.

The Friendly Beekeepers of Iowa had an observation hive with bees in it at their booth. This gave me a great opportunity to help people find the queen, spot brood, and see real honey comb.



Bethany also used the observation hive to educate about honey bees.



The booth also had a real honey vs. fake honey taste test, honey bee quiz game, and posters about honey bees. I learned that another name for a worker bee’s pollen basket is corbicula. Bethany and I loved the opportunity to educate about honey bees.

Abigail

Checking Olivia’s Hive and the Nuc

During July we had been keeping a steady eye on our hives because of the strange brood and rapidly decreasing numbers in our hives. During July, the hives really should have been growing!

Below Abigail and Olivia are just starting to check there hives.



Here is a picture of the weird brood we were seeing. You can see punctured cells and you can also see hive beetle larvae on this frame.



Here you can see sunken capped cells. You can also see a dead emerging bee.



Here you can see lots of hive beetle larvae they are the little white/cream colored things sliding over the cell walls.



Here is a frame of mostly empty with a little bit of pollen in the middle.



Here is the bottom board of Olivia’s hive! Look at all the dead bees.



Below is a picture of brood. you can clearly see the holes in many of the cells.



This is a picture of almost all the bees left in the hive. You can tell the numbers have not grown.



Here is a lot of the rest of the bees in the hive. You can see the queen and her worn yellow dot in the corner.



With strange looking brood and dwindling numbers we have to decide what steps to take to help these hive survive to and through winter.

Bethany Kelly

Iowa Honey Producers Association’s Booth at RAGBRAI 2019

On July 23rd, Olivia and I worked the Iowa Honey Producer Association’s (IHPA) booth at RAGBRAI. RAGBRAI is an event were cyclist cycle across the state. There are selected stops across the way. One of the stops was at Howell’s Greenhouse and Pumpkin Patch. The IHPA booth had a observation hive, educational hand outs, and honey lemonade!

Before the cyclist started arriving, we helped tape together honey styxs.



Olivia showed cyclist’s where the queen was in the observation hive. I also enjoyed using the observation hive to educate cyclists.



This event was a great opportunity for me to represent my club.



Howell’s Greenhouse and Pumpkin Patch has goats! Olivia got in the pen with them and played with them before we left. Good thing she did not come home with one.



It was a lot of fun for us to share our love of honey bees with people from all around the county.

Abigail