Featured Beekeeper of the Month
This month’s featured beekeeper is Bill Pepper.
He and his wife, Sharon, live in Swisher, Iowa and operate Bee-A-Pepper
Apiary. Bill writes this story.
I became interested in bees as a young boy, as both
of my grandfathers were beekeepers. My father had several books
on bees and always talked about starting a few hives, however,
he could not tolerate bee stings and decided not to keep bees.
It wasn’t until 1997 that I really got interested
in trying my hand at beekeeping. I decided to take the beginning
bee classes at the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids,
after talking with Russ Swenson, a good friend. Russ was teaching
the classes at the Indian Creek Center at the time and invited
me to visit the beginning class to see what it was all about.
Well, it didn’t take long for me to see that this is something
I wanted to try. I started out with one hive and over the next
several years have tried to maintain three hives as a hobby beekeeper.
My best year was in 2002 when I extracted 30 gallons
of honey from three hives. Last year was somewhat of a disappointment.
I started into the fall with three strong hives and lost one before
winterizing the hives in November. Then when I went to check the
bees in late March, I found all the bees in the remaining hives
had died during the late winter. I was able to get some extra
bees from Russ Swenson and after ordering a new queen I was back
After the experience of losing all of my hives,
it feels great to be an active beekeeper again. I really enjoy
working with the bees, assembling and repairing hive ware and
being able to share the fruits of the bee’s labor with family,
neighbors and friends. I have learned from my past experiences
that keeping bees is a continual learning process and that I need
to work at increasing my hive management skills. I have tried
to stay actively involved with other fellow beekeepers by volunteering
to help at the Indian Creek Nature Center Honey Fest, working
in the apiary area at the Iowa State Fair and through my membership
in the IHPA. My goal for this coming year is to become involved
in a local beekeepers group and to attend the annual IHPA conference.
This past year we were blessed with the arrival
of our first grandchild, Jaxson Jones. I tell everyone that Jaxson
is one of the future beekeepers of America. I can only hope that
my interest and enthusiasm in beekeeping, that began with my grandfather’s
and father will have an influence on Jaxson.
Submitted by Ron Wehr