The Beeyard Report
Stephanie Pomeroy came by our stand in Mt Pleasant with her daughter Heather. Those of you that have been around the IHPA for a while will remember that Heather was one of our first honey queens. My memory is hazy but I think Ginger Iles was the first and Heather was after her. This would have been in the early 90's. Heather recntly moved to DC area of Virginia from Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. Her husband is a youth pastor at one of the churches. She was quite gracious but I have a feeling she didn't have clue who I was. I wasn't very active in the Honey Producers when she was queen. We had a great time in Mt Pleasant but I came home sick. It's a week of inhaling dirt and smoke. I always get a sore throat. This year it progressed beyond that. It took me a week to get over it.
It's a horse race this time of year to get the honey off and the mite treatments in. The boys started cleaning the yards off in August but it will be the last week of September before we get our last two yards pulled. We have seen a few hive beetles in the honey house but we haven't had a problem with them. As long as we get everything extracted within a week of bringing it in, the beetles stay under control. We used to bring everything in and stack it up and the warehouse. We would extract when we got around to it. That doesn't work any more.
We have had a few colonies crash from mites but the bees look pretty good overall. We are also seeing a number of queenless colonies. If we find them in time, we will use those boxes to double up some of the singles. We had around 200 colonies that were in single brood boxes. We are going to have quite a few that will wind up as 1 1/2 story. We don't have enough deep boxes to go around. It takes a lot of syrup to get the singles up to weight after we double them.
I thought our crop would make 80 barrels easily but that last few yards haven't yielded much. May was the honey month. The overwintered colonies that were in good shape made 120#. The splits made very little. Our overall average is going to be in the 75# to 80# range.
The equipment that I bought at auctions in the early 90's is beginning to disintegrate. I have a pile that is too good to burn but not good enough to use. I need to do something with it. We are in the process of converting to 4-way pallets and migratory lids.
Our queen mating yard is just over the hill from our building. By the end of the summer there are a lot of bees back there. If we are extracting and the bloom is gone, they come for the building in earnest.
There is no place they can't get into. I have a big screen door I put in place of the rollup door in the summer time. When things are really bad, that whole screen gets covered with bees. I used to have a honey tank on that side of the building so I couldn't let the bees come and go freely.
We had to put up with the chaos. We moved the honey tank last year so now I can just open the door when they get bad. I let them have a few empties to clean up. Then they go home and don't come back unless I mess up and leave something exposed that they want.
As the queens sell down in the fall, we use the bees to make up new colonies. This starts around the end of August and goes on until late September. Our mating nucs have full sized frames so we just unite the bees and frames into a standard hive body. We will get 30 or 40 colonies out of the mating yard. It is a good way to increase the colony count.
Last year was the first winter we were able to winter these colonies. Was this just a lucky break? We will find out in the spring.
Submitted by Phil Ebert
Featured Beekeeper of the Month
This month our featured beekeeper is David Irvin. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa and his profession is general contractor, carpenter. After doing a couple years of bee removal for people he decided to start really keeping bees in 1989. He has 10 colonies of bees and is expecting a good crop this year. His honey sales are out of his home, and he has his hives inside the city limits.
Dave is a member of the Iowa Honey Producers Association. He is president of the East Central Iowa Beekeepers, a group of about 60 members. They meet in March, June, September, and December. Dave says they are planning to show a video on bee emergencies this September. The group makes a display on beekeeping at the Johnson County Fair, Ag Fest, Hoover Fest and Prairie Preview. They are always promoting beekeeping and recruiting members.
Dave enjoys talking to children about beekeeping, going to schools and programs in parks. In the winter he spends tie getting ready for the next season.
One interesting thing Dave does is use a bee vacuum to remove bees. This year he has had some practice removing bees from a 3 story house a couple of times. It seems he has to go up on the roof and research over the side to vacuum them up. That’s something to watch!
Thanks for your interesting story about your beekeeping experiences. It’s a good thing you aren’t afraid of heights.
Submitted by Ron Wehr
In order to have an Iowa Honey Producers newsletter, the members of this organization need to help with the articles. I am in need of beekeepers who would like to be a featured beekeeper of the month or know of someone who would like to be featured. Please contact: Ron Wehr, 2270 Juniper Ave., Keota, Iowa 52248 or call 319-698-7542. Thank you.
Submitted by Ron Wehr