Honey Production in Iowa
For several years Iowa was high among the states in honey production. I do not have acce3ss to the National records but in or about 1950 (give or take a year or two) Iowa ranked fifth in honey production. At the time the Midwest was known for the most of the best quality honey. Several years ensued as reasonably good crops were the norm.
There was one year during that time, as I recall about 1960 that the crop over the entire state averaged twenty-five pounds of surplus honey. Our own bees averaged just that and just like today that didn’t pay the expenses of working the colonies.
The weather pattern has not changed to any extent so we may be headed for another of those years of State wide production of 25 pounds or less.
To get any production of any consequence from packaged bees it takes a three pound package, installed the first day of April and fed honey from day one until a good flow begins to come from natural resources.
I have no recollection of what caused the short crop in 1960 but it was evidently weather conditions. Needless to say it came as a big surprise to all Iowa beekeepers.
There were several beekeepers in Iowa at the time with 500 to 700 colonies but rarely any over 1000. The 500 & 700 colony operations were for the most part one man operations. Among them were some of Iowa’s finest beekeepers.
The last excellent, far above average honey crop in Iowa was that of 1988. Our own colonies averaged 180 pounds and there were others that averaged even better. As I recall there happened to be plenty of soil moisture and the air cleared and turned dry which mad an ideal situate for honey production.
At the time there was still an adequate amount of blossom available that was producing. In those years there was usually what we called a Fall flow. It didn’t always produce any surplus honey but it did provide enough nectar that the colonies filled their brood chambers well for Winter. We all are wishing for those conditions again but it appears that they are gone forever.
Glen L. Stanley
State Apiarist (Emeritus)
2615 Aspen Road
Ames, Iowa 50014
Featured Beekeeper of the Month
This month our featured beekeeper is Quency Vos from Ellston, Iowa. He is another of our Iowa Honey Producer youth mentor members. He sent this story…
My name is Quency A. Vos. My parent’s names are Jeff and Cherri Vos. My dad Jeff, and my mom Cherri, own a furniture and flooring store called “The Outpost”. My dad has a cattle farm. He also raises corn and soybeans. My mom is a realtor at Sun Valley Lake, and surrounding area. I also have a younger sister named Chania. I attend Mt. Ayr Comm. High School. I am currently in the 8th grade. I enjoy playing football, basketball, and baseball within the district. I am in Advanced Math, as well as T.A.G. Some of my hobbies include; hunting, fishing, water sports, video games, building, 4-H for three years. So far, every year I’ve shown cattle, and had a project go to State. I plan to go to college after school, but I don’t know where yet. As a beginning beekeeper, I had absolutely no knowledge about beekeeping, that is, before my first IHPA meeting in 2008. Then I went to Pat Randol’s beekeeping classes in Winterset. What interested me in beekeeping, was the beehives that my soon to be mentor had placed on our farm. A funny story I have to tell is; I was harvesting the honey from my hive, with the help from my dad, although the bees did not take to him kindly. They stung him to the point that he looked like Popeye. I have used my entrepreneur skills and have called my business Sun Valley Honey, with many returning customers. I am looking to expand my honey business to help pay for my sports, traveling, and college. It has been extremely educational and I continue to learn new things with every experience of my beekeeping.
Good luck in your beekeeping business Quency.
Submitted by Ron Wehr