27 members attended. New members: Jennifer Duster, Jeralyn Westercamp, Linda Lam, John Tharp.
1) Bob Wolff introduced Jeralyn Westercamp, who will be a candidate for Iowa Honey Queen next year. Meantime, we voted her to be our local (ECIBA) Honey Queen. Jeralyn is a junior at UIowa, with double majors in Marketing & Management and Political Science and minor in Music (viola). Both of her older sisters were Iowa Honey Queens. When time permits, Jeralyn will act as ECIBA honey Queen at local events like county fairs and ICNC Honey Days. ECIBA president Dave Irvin, 319-331-6590, will coordinate requests for Jeralyn to attend such events.
2) Indian Creek Nature Center, 319-362-0664, will offer two beekeeping classes this year. Basic Beekeeping starts January 19th at 7:00 p.m. with 7 more classes scattered throughout spring and summer, and the final class in October. Most of the classes will be Saturday hands-on workshops, focusing on what needs to be done at that time of the year. Bob Wolff and several helpers teach this course. Enrollment is limited to 25. The second ICNC course is Queen Raising, a new course to be taught by Paul Gardner. Paul learned to raise queens from Lawrence John Connor, and has since evolved some new wrinkles of his own. He is working at present with three strains of particularly robust and hygienic queens. Paul’s objective is to help build a local (Iowa) capability to provide our own queens, more adapted to Midwestern conditions than commercial queens imported from elsewhere. (Cheaper, too!) Queen Raising Class will be June 2nd and 3rd, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at ICNC. Enrollment is limited to 10. (Enrollment has to be limited to give everyone a chance to really participate. Demand for such classes has increased recently, both nationally and in Iowa. Bob tells us that people from other states sometimes try to register for the ICNC offerings. State Beekeeper Andy Joseph is now putting together a register of beekeeping classes here in Iowa.)
3) Deb and Dennis Nielson showed us some Iowa Honey Producers Association (IHPA) mugs that will sell for $10 each. The mugs are only one of several items (caps, shirts, …) bearing the IHPA logo which are being prepared to celebrate the IHPA centennial, next year. IHPA dues are $10 for 2012 but will go up to $20 in 2013. Next meeting of IHPA Council will be 12/29/12 in Des Moines. All Iowa Beekeepers are invited to attend, but only council members get to vote.
4) Floyd Otdoerfer told us some of the things that struck his interest at the IHPA Convention held in Marshalltown November 4-5. The convention was well attended, with people standing along the walls. Apparently, our East-Central area of Iowa was a sweet spot for beekeeping this year. Honey production here was fairly normal, whereas it was way down in the rest of Iowa, especially in the west. Speakers at the convention were Jerry Hayes, who writes “The Classroom” column for American Bee Journal, and Kim Flottum, author of “The Inner Cover” column in Bee Culture. Jerry said bees don’t actually ingest pollen itself in order to get their protein, but rather a fermentation product of the pollen. He also said only about 30% of varroa mites are actually riding on bees at any one time, with the remainder crawling around the hive or in capped cells. Implication seems to be that you need several successive varroa treatments (like dusting with powdered sugar) to keep down the mites. Jerry pointed out that winter is a great cleansing time for our hives, because the cold kills off hive beetles, moths, parasites. Jerry is concerned about the bad effects on our bee populations of monocultures like almond pollination. A semi heading out to the California almond groves from Florida can carry 450 hives, and costs $15K per trip. The hives then rent for up to $200/mo. Steve Hendrix tells us that there are now 825,000 acres of almond groves in CA, producing 1.65 billion lb of almonds annually! Kim Flottum talked about winterizing bees, and the need to vent condensation. Kim also talked about growing your bee business, including many niche specialties, such as providing queens, making soap, etc. Finally, a speaker (name?) talked about the beneficial effect of nearby herb plantings. The speaker observed that bees that are doing poorly will seek out plants like stinging nettles, chamomile (my thought: and maybe dog fennel, which looks a lot like chamomile, and must be related to it?), anise hyssop, etc. However, I think this just confirms what we already know: that our bees need good nutrition, which they can’t get working monocultures, but do get by accessing a wide variety of pollens and nectars.
Of possible interest:
· http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/12/13/142903171/funny-honey-bringing-trust-to-a-sweet-sector-fraught-with-suspicion an NPR article about the headaches Chinese honey is causing us.
· http://www.foodsafetynews/2011/11/tests-show-that-most-store-honey-isn’t-honey/ also about how Chinese honey is getting into our stores.
· http://www.youtube.com/v/xHkq1edcbk4?version=3%20%20%20%20 You-tube film showing pollinators in action, brought to my attention by Richard Wahlstrand.
Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary