of the Month
This month our featured beekeeper is Arvin Foell.
He and his wife, Jeanne, live in Kelley, Iowa. Arvin started keeping
bees in 1977, currently keeps from 20 to 50 colonies, and sells
liquid honey and a few Ross Rounds. His business name is Ballard
Future plans include developing his own queens,
to improving over wintering and increasing honey production. Arvin
says the best part of beekeeping is getting out into nature, working
and just watching the bees come and go.
Arvin belongs to the Central Iowa Beekeepers
Association and has served as past president as well as on several
committees. It seems Arvin is the “unofficial taster”
at the concession stand at the CIBA auction where they run a tab
for him. They have about 50 members and meet on the third Saturday
evening of the months of March, June, September, December, or
January at Bonanza in Marshalltown. The groups major activity
is their annual auction of used beekeeping equipment on the fourth
Saturday of April. All you new beekeepers take note. The group
also sponsors or co-sponsors a summer field day. As a member of
IHPA, Arvin has served as vice president and on several committees.
While on the board as VP under John Johnson, it was decided to
split the board of directors into six districts, which brought
representation from all parts of Iowa, and everyone was given
an opportunity to bid on honey sold at the Iowa State Fair.
I did not get the honey house finished
until the end of October and didn’t finish extracting
honey until November 25th.
Arvin writes his story telling me, “I
began my beekeeping experience when I needed three credits to
fulfill my biology requirement for my Ag degree at ISU. My advisor
suggested I look into this beekeeping course offered by the Entomology
Dept. which would satisfy my biology credits. So I signed up for
the beekeeping class taught by Richard Trump and John Jesup. During
the section of the class studying diseases, I got to meet Glenn
Stanley, former state apiarist, who gave a presentation on diseases
and bee anatomy, we also worked with the bees. It was during this
class that I came down with the beekeeping bug. I have had this
condition for nearly thirty years and don’t know of a cure.
I was so fascinated with honey bees that in
the spring of 1977 I bought 3 colonies of bees and equipment from
Glenn & Lloyd Stanley. I have been a beehaver ever since.
Every year has been different with some years like 1988, a bumper
crop and some times not enough honey to get the bees through the
winter. Mites have been a real annoying problem and beekeeping
isn’t as fun as it was when I first started.
We had to store all our belongings,
because our new home was not available until September.
After living in Slater for eighteen years, we
built a home on an acreage and I had the opportunity to design
and build a new honey house, 20x30ft. The move was a real challenge
because any one who has been in beekeeping very long knows how
much stuff you accumulate. I sold a whole bunch of beekeeping
equipment at the CIBA auction, but still had a lot to move. And
to put more pressure on me, our home in Slater sold in two days
after we put it on the market and we had to move everything out
in thirty days. My wife, Jeanne, did great, but I was still moving
beekeeping stuff the last day of possession. We had to store all
our belongings, because our new home was not available until September.
So we were homeless for a couple of months. Consequently, I did
not get the honey house finished until the end of October and
didn’t finish extracting honey until November 25th. This
year was one of my worst honey crops. Beekeepers always say that
the next year will be better. May your hives be full of bees this
spring and may you have a long nectar flow.”
Arvin enclosed some pictures of his new home
and honey house. Thanks for the story.
Submitted by Ron Wehr