Visiting the Science Center of Iowa’s Preschool

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.

Abigail

Visiting a School

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.

Abigail

A Second Year of Beekeeping in Review – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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.

The Good

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.



One of the highlights for me was being the Central Iowa Honey Queen. I was able to give twenty-four presentations and attend fourteen events. As always the Iowa State Fair is a highlight of our year. Bethany, Miriam, Olivia, and I volunteered at the Iowa Honey Producers Association’s booth at the State Fair. I was able to give presentations and assist other queens with presentation during the Iowa State Fair. We also entered in many of the apiary categories.



At the end of the year, I was crowned the 2020 Iowa Honey Queen.



The Bad

We had a very rough year last year. Between a wet spring, small hive beetles, and European Foulbrood, we lost two hives and many nucs. We even had hives abscond on us.



Because of the many challenges we faced, we were unable to harvest any honey.

This year, we will be feeding the bees to help prevent disease. We have also been using swiffer pads to try to get rid of small hive beetles.

The Ugly

The worst part of last year was when the state apiarist confirmed that my hive had European Foulbrood. We, unfortunately, were not able to save the bees.



Cleaning up after EFB was pretty gross. We ended up throwing away many of the frames.



Summary

Spring and summer were hard for us since many of our hives died. We missed not getting honey. We did learn a lot about beekeeping throughout the year. We hope to have a better year this year.

I enjoyed being the Central Iowa Honey Queen. I am excited to be the Iowa Honey Queen and have used many of the things I learned as Central Iowa Honey Queen.

Abigail

Working the IHPA Booth at 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.

Abigail

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

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

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

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

July 2019 CIBA Meeting

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

-Abigail and Bethany

Helping Honey Bees at the Polk County Fair

At the Polk County Fair, I gave a presentation entitled Helping Honey Bees as the Central Iowa Honey Queen. This presentation is about how anyone can help honey bees.

Honey bees have become trendy recently and many people are wondering how they can help honey bees (and other pollinators) without becoming a beekeeper. Three big ways to help honey bees are to plant pollinator friendly plants that are in bloom from April to October; to stop using pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides; and to support a local beekeeper.

Planting pollinator friendly plants that are in bloom from April to October helps honey bees because it provides forage for the bees throughout their period of activity. Dandelions are the honey bee’s first food. Allow the dandelions to bloom in your yard. Other early spring plants are crocuses, maple trees, and fruit trees. Late fall plants are important because the bees need to have the resources to build up for winter. Goldenrod, sedum, and asters are great fall plants.

One of the visual aids I brought was a sedum from our yard for my presentation.



Not using pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides helps honey bees because helps prevent the bees bring these chemicals back to their hive. There are many cases of pesticide, fungicide, herbicide, or insecticide honey bee colony deaths especially in states where crops are major industries. What about farmers whose livelihoods are dependent upon pesticide, fungicide, herbicide and insecticide sprayed crops? There is a surprisingly simple solution. Farmers should find out if any of their neighbors have beehives and then they should call them the day before they spray. The beekeeper will then close up their hives for a day. Farmers can also spray between dusk and dawn when the bees are less active. This prevents the bees from being sprayed and helps prevent the bees from picking up chemicals off of flowers.

Supporting a local beekeeper helps honey bees because honey bees are directly affected. Anyone can support a local beekeeper by buying their local honey, beeswax, and other beehive products. The beekeeper is then able to put the money he or she earns back into their honey bees and their business. By buying from a local beekeeper, you are showing that you support honey bees. Supporting a local beekeeper not only helps the honey bees and the beekeeper, but it also helps the consumer and the economy. It helps the consumer because when the consumer and the beekeeper have a good relationship the consumer will know they are getting what they are paying for. Much of the honey in stores is either ultra-filtered honey or it is not even honey. Ultra-filtered honey is honey that has been filtered to the point where all the beneficial pollen has been removed. Pollen is what makes honey an excellent way to reduce allergies. Some honey is actually corn syrup or sugar syrup. Corn syrup and sugar syrup are much more inexpensive to produce. Supporting a local beekeeper helps the economy because it encourages a small business.

Anyone can help honey bees by planting pollinator friendly plants that bloom from April to October, by reducing the amount of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides they use, and by supporting a local beekeeper. So how are you going to help the honey bees?

If someone is interested in becoming a beekeeper, they should read books, join a club, and take a beginning beekeeping class. We shared about our favorite books here and here and the Iowa Honey Producers Association has list of Iowa classes and clubs on their website.



After I gave my presentation, I spoke with my judge. I was selected to give my presentation at the Iowa State Fair. I was very excited to be able to share my love of bees once again.

Abigail