Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Minutes from the September 10th Meeting

41 members attended.  New members:  Craig Aldrich, Greg Chapman, Paul Grimm, Benjamin Helmuth, Stephanie Lane, Vicki Mildenstein, Jim Peterson

    President Dave Irvin reports we have $16.43 left in our checking account.  All outstanding bills for the year have been paid.  We still must buy stamps for future mailings.
     Our booth at the Johnson County 4-H Fair got fewer visitors this year, and Dave Irvin wants suggestions for improvements.  Some ideas: posters/handouts about Colony Collapse Disorder, IHPA (Iowa Honey Producers Association) logo “tatoos” for the kids, display more beekeeping equipment of different kinds.   Other ideas?
     At least 6 ECIBA members exhibited their apiary products at the Iowa State Fair, and many won ribbons.  State Beekeeper Andy Joseph is adding up entries from each of the 10 beekeeping clubs around the state to see which club won the IHPA “most entries” prize.

    Floyd Otdoerfer gave a demo on his method for rendering beeswax.  He puts cappings in a mesh bag and immerses it in a large (~8 gal?) pot of very hot water, but not boiling.  He weights down the bag so it doesn’t float and bobs it many times so that the wax comes out into the water but dirt stays behind in the bag.  After the water cools, there is a crust of rendered wax floating on top.  He re-melts the rendered wax and runs it through a sieve holding a cloth filter to further clean it.  He pours the cleaned wax into cupcake tray molds.   Discussion: bigger blocks than that (3# blocks for State Fair) must be cooled slowly, to avoid cracks.

    Bob Wolff demonstrated how he makes dipped candles.  His candles usually place highly at the Iowa State Fair, but making good ones takes technique.  It is important to have the right gauge of wicks; Bob uses un-weighted flat braided cotton wick from Pourette Candle supplies in Oregon.  Bob has designed a collapsible jig on which to stretch the wicks.  Each side of the jig holds wick for 2 doubles and 1 single—10 candles per jig.  The jigs are adjustable to either make 10” or 12” candles.  Bob uses 10 such jigs so as to make 100 candles per run, and can do two such runs in an 8:00 a.m.-to-6:00 p.m. day.  He keeps 2 large (6-8 gal?) double-boiler pots of melted wax heated by propane to ~160oF; he never lets the water boil.  One pot is the dip pot, the other is to replenish wax in the dip pot. He keeps the dip pot rim full and immerses the jigs to the exact same depth (via stops) for each dip.  First dip takes ~1 ½ min so as to release air bubbles in the wick.  Subsequent dips last 35-40 sec.  The wax must cool enough between dips; doing all 10 jigs in order lets each one cool about right.  Tricks to stay organized—number the jigs, hang them to cool in a clear order, and use some method (e.g., pennies dropped in a cup) to keep count. It takes 26-29 dips to make a candle thick enough to exactly fit a standard candle holder.  At about dip 14, Bob releases the candles from the jigs; after that he dips the candles separately, trimming the bottoms to keep them square.  His pure beeswax candles are practically smokeless, and burn about an inch an hour.  They sell for $6-$8 for singles and $10 for doubles.

    Bob also demonstrated how to make thick shorter candles by rolling pure wax foundation onto a big square wick.  It takes 6 sheets of foundation per candle.  He fuses the sheets end to end using a bead of melted wax he applies with a Q-tip of cotton on a wire.

    Honey Fest at Indian Creek Nature Center 319-362-0664 is this coming Sunday, September 16, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.  Larry Spina is on tap to wear a bee beard.  Volunteers are invited to be on hand and explain about beekeeping to attendees. 

    Recently several folks have contacted me asking how to get rid of swarms they have found in buildings or trees.  (They got my name via the ECIBA web site that Jim Davis maintains,, so we know our website is getting hits!)  Here is what I tell them: If the bees aren’t bothering anything, leave them till spring.  They might freeze out over winter.  If they are still there come spring, contact a local beekeeper, who may be willing to come get them for free.  A swarm in spring is desirable, because it will make honey all summer.  Relocating a swarm in fall is a waste of effort, because the bees won’t have time to make enough honey to overwinter, so will die anyway.  Find a local beekeeper by checking with your county agent, or by looking in the State Apiary Register to be found via the Iowa Sensitive Crops Directory,  If the bees are in a building, you may need to call in a carpenter/beekeeper like Dave Irvin 319-331-6590, and pay for the carpentry involved.  To kill the bees yourself, get a veil and gloves, seal yourself against stings, and rip off the siding to expose the bees.  Expect some stings anyway, so don’t try this if you are allergic.  Do not use insecticide; spray them down with water and stamp them dead.  It will take a while, but you may get some honey out of it.  Question: IS THIS ADVICE OKAY?  What did I say wrong, and what more or else should I have said?

Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September Meeting

  September Meeting

  NEXT MEETING:  MONDAY, September 10th
6:30 to 8:30
·         -- Iowa State Fair Results (anyone who was there)
      -- Rendering Beeswax (Floyd Otdoerfer)
      -- Candlemaking (Bob Wolff)

Not a member?   If you are a beekeeper or just interested in what beekeeping is all about,  please come join us.  East Central Iowa Beekeepers are always happy to have new members!
Meetings are held at the Coralville Public Library, lower level
 Library address:  1401 5th Street       Coralville IA 52241          
Come north on 12th Ave from Hwy 6 for one long block and cross over 5th Street. 
 Library parking is on the left (west).  Meeting is in Room A, the first room on the right in the library’s