of the Month
This month’s featured beekeeper is Jerry
Kern. Jerry and his wife, Dalene, live and raise their bees at
410 E. University in Des Moines. Dalene has her own colony and
has named the queen. Jerry has been around bees all his life.
After 30 years, 7 months, and five days he retired from John Deere
as a welder and started his own apiary. Since retiring he says
he needs to find something to do and he likes to experiment. He
now has 7 producing colonies and 12 nucs. Jerry specializes in
comb honey and raising queens. He has taken a queen rearing class
from Marla Spevic and beginning classes with John Johnson.
Jerry is excited about raising quality queens.
He put drone comb in his best colonies to control varroa mites.
He was going to freeze them, but thought, you need a lot of drones
to mate with the queens he was raising. After checking the drone
combs and finding very few mites, he made up a nuc with the drone
frame with some worker brood. Now he has saturated his queen rearing
yards with drones from his best colonies. In late summer, after
the drones have dwindled away, he plans to give this nuc a frame
of eggs to raise a queen and try to over winter it.
Jerry is very active at the Iowa State Fair selling
honey lemonade. Donna Brahms says if she needs someone to fill
in Jerry is always available. His favorite line for the lemonade
stand is, “Good stuff for someone who has to walk a lot”.
When he isn’t gardening and working with
bees Jerry also raised pigeons. He has 400 and plans to expand.
He shows his pigeons all over the United States and has won 4th
place in the country at one show. Keep having fun and thanks Jerry
for the interview and all your work at the State Fair. It was
interesting and informative, but Dalene still has the best colony
Submitted by Ron Wehr
Helpful Hints from the Old Man
Do you have trouble lighting your bee smoker?
Do you have trouble keeping your smoker going? Does your smoker
not give enough smoke when you squeeze the bellows? No, I am not
going to try to sell you a new modern pressurized air powered
smoker. I am just going to tell you what I found recently with
my smoker that I have been using for 10 to 20 years. I would have
trouble getting it to light. I had trouble keeping it going and
it sometimes didn’t give much smoke if it did stay lite.
After being rather fustrated with the smokers performance on day,
I knew it wasn’t lack of experience of the operator; I took
the bellows off the smoker in the bee yard to see how much air
the bellows was producing. To my surprise the small hole at the
lower end of the bellows didn’t allow much air to come out
when I pumped the bellows.. Upon close observation I noticed that
the hole appeared to be filled with charred wood or cresote. I
took my pocket knife and carefully removed the cresote or charred
wood. Now when I pressed the bellows a great volume of air came
from the bellows. I then reinstalled the bellows on the smoker
and to my surprise had the smoker lite in no time at all and when
I pumped the bellows got a large volume of smoker from the smoker.
When I set the smoker down for several minutes and then picked
it up and pumped the bellows, I had smoke. In the past if I set
the smoker down for a few minutes, I had to relight the smoker
as it would go out. So my suggestion if you haven’t already
figured it out could be reduced air flow from your smoker bellows
if you are having trouble with your smoker like I did. Like anything
a good piece of equipment needs a little maintaince from time
The Old Man