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.


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.


Cleaning Up After EFB

Upon the State Apiarists suggestion, we euthanized my hive and one of our nucs that had EFB. We talked about why we came to this decision in our blog post Inspecting the Hives with the State Apiarist. We euthanized the hives by taping up all the entrances to that the bees could not leave their hive. After a couple of months, all the bees had died and we were able to clean up the equipment and decide what to keep and what to throw away.

Bethany and I went through the super together. The super was clean enough that we decided to freeze the frames and use them again. This did not risk passing the EFB on because EFB is a brood disease. It is not normally in the super.


Here is what the top of the deep looked like. It also smelled of EFB and dead brood.


Here is a brood frame. As you can see, it is slightly moldy. We decided to throw out the brood frames.


Here is Bethany and I looking through more of the frames. The smell was so bad you could smell it from our front porch.


Most of the dead bees had fallen onto the bottom board. Small hive beetles had invaded the hive and were eating what was left. In order to make sure the small hive beetles did not make it into our other hives, we threw the larvae away.


We then looked in the nuc. The nuc frames were also really gross. We threw the nuc frames away as well.


The nuc frames had a lot more mold then the deep frames.


There is dead brood on this frame. The nurse bees must have died before this brood emerged.


Here is the bottom of the nuc. We threw all the gunk on the bottom away.


In order to ensure that all the traces of EFB were eliminated, I scorched the boxes, bottom board, inner and outer cover, and nuc. We now can reuse all this equipment. I also scorched the hive tool we used to clean the equipment up.


Here I am scorching the inside of the deep box.


Cleaning up equipment is a very unpleasant task, but must be done. We were glad we were able to keep some of the equipment.