Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Minutes December 8, 2014

 Notes from 12/8/2014 Meeting
30 members attended, not counting spouses and kids.  New members: Mary Ebert, Ed Furnish, Sara Fort, Kathleen Green, Ken Johnson, Carolyn Lemaster, Jim Scott, Mike and Cindy Spading, Ben Stevens

Vice Prez: Floyd Otdoerfer agreed to take over as ECIBA vice-president, replacing Terry Dahms.
Dave Irvin would like to have your humorous bee stories.

Beekeeping Stories: Anyone who keeps bees for very long has stories about it, many of them hilarious, at least in retrospect.  President Dave Irvin suggests we write them down—we might be able to sell a book of such stories for fundraising.
Protecting Bees in Iowa: This ISU pamphlet is now out of print. Too bad—we used to give out copies at our beekeeper booths at meetings and  fairs.   Bob Wolff has an electronic copy he will get to Jim Davis to put on our ECIBA website.
Horizontal top-bar hives: December issue of Acres has plans how to build these.
Floyd Otdoerfer reporting on the Iowa Honey Producers annual meeting.

Iowa Honey Producers Association, Marshalltown, Nov 14-15, 2014: (Floyd Otdoerfer report) State Apiarist Andy Joseph said that last winter was very hard on Iowa bees, with 60-70% of colonies reported lost by March.  [DLC comment: It’s useful to check your hives on winter days when it is warm enough that bees are flying: if you find them clustered up under the top cover, they are out of honey, and need to be fed.]  Andy again advised beekeepers to check and treat for mites, to renew colony registration every spring, and to be sure to report bee kills that might be due to nearby pesticide applications.  Keith Delaplane of UGeorgia said that new swarms will seek elbowroom, and typically settle in places over 500m from the home hive.  He recommends frequent checks of larva in your brood frames—larva need to be immersed in jelly it they are to thrive.  If larva cells look dry, feed protein! Also, be sure and get rid of old dark comb, which will have collected pesticide residue.  Marla Spivak of UMinn has sponsored many volunteer groups to help beekeepers there—some groups specialize in mentoring beginners, and others in doing inspections and advising professionals. Marla also is involved in awarding cash grants to worthy bee causes through the Midwest, including several in Iowa.  [DLC comment: I’m pretty sure Marla was awarded the 2010 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship genius grant.  Was that what she used the MacArthur money for?]  Marla has done studies of protein content of various pollens, and points out that corn pollen won’t help bees very much: only ~5% protein.  She also says poplar and cottonwood resin make some of the best propolis, and that bees will seal cracks up to 1/8” (up to 1/3 of a bee space, that is). 
Dave Campbell talked about his involvement with an ISU bee virus study.

(Dave Campbell report) Four of us who were present at tonite’s meeting had provided bee samples in fall 2013 to Amy Toth and Adam Dolezal of ISU for their bee virus study. They gave their results at this year’s IAPA and in the November issue of The Buzz.  Their idea was to look at apiaries in heavily cropped areas (>70% cultivated fields nearby) versus those not (<35%).  They anticipated the <35% bees would be better nourished, and have fewer mites and viruses.  Not so!  It turned out that bees from both groups were about equally fat, and had about equal mites (average was ~3 mites/every 100 bees).  Not surprisingly, though, high mite levels made for high viruses.  Four virus types were measured: deformed wing virus (DWV), black queen cell virus (BQCV), Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), and sacbrood virus (SBV).  DWV and BQCV were fairly common, and the others rare, though high when present. Conclusions: treat for mites if you have high mite levels (later speaker Mike Goblirsch said >7 mites/ 100 bees), and put your hives in low-cultivation areas when possible (a finding from other studies, though not this one).  Marla Spivak’s people at UMinn have put together a poster showing how to do a powdered sugar mite test.  Find it at http://www.beelab.umn.edu/prod/groups/cfans/@pub/@cfans/@bees/documents/asset/cfans_asset_317466.pdf.
Mary Harris of ISU reported on best practice recommendations resulting from work done for the Corn Dust Research Consortium (stakeholders included beekeepers, manufacturers, farmers, and university).  Not surprising, pneumatic corn planters (the modern air-puff ones, as opposed to the older spike-finger types) make dust that gets on bee plants.  The dust contains neonics which stay on nearby plants for at least 3 weeks, despite rain, and for over a year in groundwater.  Nowadays many farmers plant very early, before the ground is actually warm enough to germinate corn (>~60oF).  (They add fungicides to keep the seed from rotting in the meantime.) Problem: that early in the year our bees are out collecting pollen from early bloomers like willows, maples, and ash.  Many samples of willow pollen that were tested had doses of neonics (1.6-3.4 ng/bee) high enough to be lethal to bees (LD50 = 2.8 ng/bee).  Recommendations: farmers should stop planting so early, use coated seed only when really necessary, and be sure to follow manufacturer’s specs.  However, uncoated seed must be special-ordered, is rarely available, and costs just the same; so it will be hard to get anybody to follow advice like that.
In a separate study, Mary Harris’ people found that putting 10% of cornfields in prairie strips reduced water runoff by 95%, phosphorus loss by 90%, and nitrogen loss by 85%.  Plus, prairie strips provide forage for bees!  [DLC comment: that’s great, but how does it compare with no-till?  Way more farmers are going to no-till nowadays.  Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFA) ought to check this out!]

==Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Meeting Agenda--Monday, December 8


·         (Floyd Otdoerfer) Report on Iowa Honey Producers Conference, Nov. 14-15, 2014.
·         (Dave Campbell) Review of ISU study on viruses in 36 Iowa apiaries sampled during fall 2013.
·         General discussion: what did we learn this year, and what (if anything) will we change next year?
·          Nominations for ECIBA Vice-president to replace Terry Dahms

Library location:     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).   Meet in Room A&B, the first room on the right in the library’s basement.

Library staff request that we be finished by 8:30 p.m., when they lock up and go home.  Start time of 6:30 is just to give folks time to chat.  Business meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Minutes From September, 2014

East Central Iowa Beekeepers Association             
Notes from 9/8/2014 Meeting
42 members attended, not counting spouses and kids.  New members: Rachael Black, Tyler Coblenz, Rhonda Davis, Jonathan Fowlkes, Cassie Graber, Mickey Hudepohl, Dave Kaska, Matt McNeill, Kirk Shaunfield, John Tandy, Tom Woodward 

Speaker Tim Wilbanks: Tim is a 4th generation member of a Georgia family that produces package bees and queens.  He now has a honey business in the Kalona area, and expects to pass that business on to his sons, who attended the meeting, too.  He told about growing up helping out in his father’s business, and contrasted conditions in Georgia (hot) with what he has found Iowa (cold).  His father’s business concentrates on package bees, about 20,000 packages a year, producing honey only as a sideline.  He has numerous beeyards within 75 miles of home, broken into three categories: queen-production, mating yards, and production of worker bees.  Queens are produced by regular grafting, though on a gigantic scale.  The mating yards have hives containing mostly drone cell foundation, producing drones to breed the young virgin queens.  Bees from the worker bee yards are shaken into shipping boxes, leaving only about 10% bees in each hive to carry on.  Each box then gets a mated queen in a cage, together with a feed can, and the box is shipped.  They prefer trucking their own boxes, because post office service can be unreliable.  Apparently USPS refuses to insure bee shipments.
Tim Wilbanks talks about his families package and queen business in Georgia.

There are at least two times of year when Georgia bees must be fed sugar syrup: in Jan-Feb, when red maples are producing pollen, but there are no blooming flowers, and in mid-July through late August, when there is a dearth of local blooms.  Recently, cotton blooms have helped mitigate the summer dearth, but cotton honey crystallizes quickly, so is sold as mere “baker’s grade”.  They keep all yards cleared of brush down to bare dirt to deter Small Hive Beetles, and rely on healthy bees to cope with both SHB and wax moths.  Once harvested, honey is extracted within 24 hours, to avoid wax moth sliming. They are currently treating for varroa mites using Apivar.  They are far enough north that Africanized bees are not a problem.
For overwintering here in Iowa, Tim prefers 8-frame boxes.  That is because bees may not be able to break cluster in cold weather to access the outer honey frames of a 10 frame box.  Floyd Otdoerfer commented that he replaces the outer frames with insulation in his 10-frame boxes for exactly this reason.  Tim cautions against using completely honey-bound supers for overwintering; keep 1-2 drawn but empty frames in the center of any overwintered honey super for the cluster to occupy.  Finally, Floyd demonstrated a heavy plastic material (“Silt fence”) he will try this winter instead of tar paper to wrap hives.
Floyd Otdoerfer showing a method of feeding through the inner cover.
·         Thanks to helpers at our bee tent, Johnson County 4-H fair: Dave Irvin, Paul Millice, Darlene Clausen, Floyd & Pat Otdoerfer, Charlie Hoehnle, Theresa Dunnington, Dave Campbell, Bob Wolff, Larry & Arlene Spina, Dan Dillemuth, Peter Jochimsen, Matt & Patty Stewart.
·         Honey Fest—Sunday, September 21, 12:00-4:30 p.m. Indian Creek Nature Center, 319-362-0664.  Larry Spina will don a bee beard at 2:30.  Beekeeper volunteers are needed to host attendees.
·         Iowa Honey Producers Association annual conference—Marshalltown Best Western Regency Inn, Friday and Saturday November 14-15.  Speakers are Keith Delaplane (UGeorgia, columnist for American Bee Journal), Marla Spivak (UMinn, developing varroa resistant strains), Amy Toth and Mary Harris (latest bee research at ISU).  Vendors will include Dadant, Walter Kelly, and Mann Lake.
·         Matt Stewart reports that entries were rather sparse at Iowa State Fair this year.  Prizes were awarded through 6th place in all categories, and some categories didn’t even have that many entries.  We need to do better next year.

==Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Meeting Agenda--Monday, September 8


·         Speaker:  Tim Wilbanks, “Experiences growing up in my family’s large commercial queen and package operation in Georgia: yearly management tasks”
·         Nominations for ECIBA Vice-president to replace Terry Dahms
·         (If time allows): general discussion: overwintering nucs. 

Library location:     1401 5th Street                             Coralville IA 52241           (Balloon A on this map)

Come north on 12th Ave from Hwy 6 for one long block and cross over 5th Street.  Library parking is on the left (west).   Meet in Room A&B, the first room on the right in the library’s basement.
Library staff request that we be finished by 8:30 p.m., when they lock up and go home.  Start time of 6:30 is just to give folks time to chat.  Business meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Minutes From June, 2014 Meeting

 Notes from 6/9/2014 Meeting
30 members attended.  New members:  Maureen Marron, David Seale, Hannah Valentine

Jim Kessler talks about the importance of native plants in our environment

Speaker Jim Kessler: “Design and Plant a Native Pollinator Garden”.  This talk emphasized native plants that are pollinated by insects.  Jim gave a handout listing such plants, pointing out the need to design plantscapes to supply pollen and nectar continuously from spring through fall.  Many of the plants on his list, though good for other insects, are not much visited by honeybees.   Some honeybee plants on his list were Anise Hyssop, Calico Aster, Mountain Mint, New Jersey Tea, Hoary Vervain, and Hazelnut (for pollen, not nectar).  Many others he listed are not specifically mentioned in Lovell’s “Honey Plants of North America”, but have relatives (same genus, different species) that are:  Butterfly and Rose Milkweed, Silky Aster, various sedges (pollen only), Foxglove Beardtongue, Wild Leek, Short’s Aster, Stiff Goldenrod, Serviceberry, Red-Osier Dogwood, and Nannyberry (a type of haw).  Jim recommended several books on his subject, including a new one by Heather Holm, “Pollinators of Native Plants”, which has nice color photos you can use to identify particular plants.  An outfit that sells the plants is Ion Exchange, 1878 Old Mission Rd., Harpers Ferry, Iowa 52146, 319-535-7231. Their website is www.ionxchange.com, which also has photos of the plants to help identification.
ECIBA secretary Dave Campbell gives a slide presentation on queen rearing
 Slide show: “Queens for pennies”, taken from Randy Oliver’s website www.ScientificBeekeeping.com, following up on Oliver’s article in the March 2014 issue of American Bee Journal.  The slides are aimed at beekeepers who have developed varroa-resistant strains of bees: Randy exhorts us to spread these genetics for the good of the profession.  Setting up a factory to turn out large numbers of queens is impractical for such beekeepers, but using his instructions one may graft and raise 10 or 12 new queens introduce into splits in the spring.  Important points are the time-table (the steps must be done a specific number of days in order), details on manipulating a Chinese grafting tool and tricks to use with it, and that the brood box and its grafted queens  must be kept warm and moist at all times.

Bee booth: Thanks to Cara Keller for her presentation at Hills bank barnyard days, 5/23/2014.

Johnson County Fair:  We still need volunteers to man our beekeepers tent at the Johnson County Fair, July 21-24.  There are 3 shifts each day: 1st Shift = 10:00 a.m. to 1:30p.m., 2nd Shift = 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., 3rd Shift = 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Volunteers so far: Monday, 1st Shift—Dave Irvin for set up; 2nd—Paul Millice; 3rd–Darlene Clausen; Tuesday, 1st Shift—Floyd and Pat Otdoerfer, 2nd—Charlie Hoehnle, 3rd—open; Wednesday, 1st—Dave Campbell, 2nd—Bob Wolff, 3rd—Larry and Arlene Spina; Thursday, 1st—open, 2nd—Matt and Patty Stewart, 3rd—Dave Irvin for tear down.  Contact Dave Campbell (319-545-7143) or Dave Irvin (319-331-6590) if you can cover one of the empty shifts.   You may sell honey and beeswax during your shift.  All members are welcome to help out at the booth any time.

Iowa State fair:  Iowa State Fair will be August 7-17, 2014, in Des Moines.  There are 24 Apiary categories and $1500 in prizes.  Cash prizes in most categories are awarded through 6th place, so it hasn’t been hard to win something.  Indian Creek Nature Center (319-362-0664) plans to provide transport for entries; drop them off at ICNC on the Tuesday before fair opens (August 5th), and they will go up on Wednesday.   Contest categories and entry forms can be downloaded from www.iowastatefair.org.  Because you never know what apiary products you will actually have available at fair time, the absolute deadline for submitting entry forms is very late, August 1st.  Apply early, and they will mail your stickers (for fairness, no identification is allowed on any entries except for these official entry stickers).  If late, though, you will have to go personally to pick up your entry stickers.

A good crowd was in attendance for the June meeting

==Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary

Do you have a question or topic you would like to see discussed at our next meeting?  If so, please email secretary Dave Campbell with your suggestion.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 9 Meeting Agenda


·         Speaker:  Jim Kessler, “Why native plants matter to honey bees and beekeepers”
·         Sign-up for bee booth, Johnson County 4-H Fair, July 21-24.
·         (If time allows): show Randy Oliver’s slides on grafting your own queen bees. 

Library location:     1401 5th Street                             Coralville IA 52241           (Balloon A on this map)

Come north on 12th Ave from Hwy 6 for one long block and cross over 5th Street.  Library parking is on the left (west).   Meet in Room A&B, the first room on the right in the library’s basement.
Library staff request that we be finished by 8:30 p.m., when they lock up and go home.  Start time of 6:30 is just to give folks time to chat.  Business meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Minutes from March, 2014 Meeting

East Central Iowa Beekeepers Association            
Notes from 3/10/2014 Meeting
70 members attended.  New members:  John, Diana & Christopher Colgan, Greg Redlin & Shirley Schreilin (sp?), Gabriel Beachy, Tom Sweeney, Cindy Fisher, Scott Sievers, Lynelle Mellecker, Jack & Patti Weiland, Mike Hammer, Gary Tomlinson, Mark Cramer, Shane Bixby, Meleah Mathahs, Dan Welter, Paul Trieu

Dave Irvin presents his report while Dave Campbell takes notes.

President's report:  Dave Irvin has paid first installment of this year’s insurance to display at fairs.  Again this year, ECIBA will sponsor a $25 prize to the Outstanding Beekeeping Project at the Johnson County 4-H fair.  He commented that hive boxes must be nailed securely—many are not.   Dave warns that this year he will charge $100 for removing bees from places where he must do carpentry work to get them.  Like most of us, he does not charge to pick up swarms of honey bees that have clustered somewhere out in the open.

Membership report: ECIBA presently has 106 members (counting couples or families only once) on our rolls, after dropping 11 from the 2013 list.  We drop any who haven’t come to at least one meeting during the year.
And the winner is.....
Hive raffle and dues payments:  Thanks to Paul Gardner for donating the complete hive we raffled to raise money for the club.  We sold 46 raffle tickets at $5, and had our youngest member Christopher Colgan draw out the winning ticket.  The hive was won by Mark Cramer.  As of meeting’s end, 59 members had paid their $5 ECIBA dues for 2013.  To clear up some possible confusion: belonging to ECIBA does NOT automatically make you a member of Iowa Honey Producers Association.  Joining IHPA is a good idea, though.

Mark Cramer, left, was the lucky winner of Paul Gardner's well-constructed hive.
Thanks, Paul, for the generous donation again.
Winter survival rates.  Polling around the room showed that this has been a hard winter for our bees.  It appeared that only one-half to one-third of our hives have survived.  Only two members had survival rates above 90%.
IHPA Legislative Committee Member Bob Wolff reviewed what we know about the effects neonicotinoid pesticides are having on our bees.  A thorough (42-page) report on this is at www.xerces.org/neonicitinoids-and-bees/.  This and other links are posted on our ECIBA website that Jim Davis maintains, http://eastcentraliowabeekeepers.blogspot.com/.  Clearly, more documentation of pesticide beekills is needed to make our case with EPA or legislators.  Iowa Department of Agriculture has facilitated the two critical responsibilities we beekeepers have here: first, to register our apiary locations with them, and, second, to report beekills (515-281-8591).  State Apiarist Andy Joseph has streamlined the reporting process to EPA.  Iowa laws now cover commercial applicators, but additional problems may be due to too-heavy pesticide applications by farmers and gardeners who are not covered by law.  The law does provide that you can be compensated if you suffer a beekill that is reported and documented.  We need to reach out to people who may be over-using pesticides; local farm co-ops, garden clubs, golf course managers, and so on.  Iowa State has printed a University Extension pamphlet, “Protecting Bees in Iowa” to use for outreach.  In particular, we do better by building partnerships with such folks, rather than by blindly accusing them.  Such a co-op between beekeepers and applicators in Ontario resulted in a clear determination of the link between neonicitiniods and bee mortality up there.

Floyd Otdoerfer talked about swarms, reminding us to check for queen cells every 10 days or so.  He pointed out that late-season swarms are not necessarily doomed to die, but that some of them take over weak hives and rejuvenate them.

==Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary

New Addition!  We have added a new page, In The News.  You will find the link to this on the pages list in the right hand column.  Similar information regarding news events will appear at the bottom of each page as well.  Announcements, upcoming meetings or news related to beekeeping will appear here.  Please feel free to email Jim Davis if you would like to have items posted here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Meeting Agenda March 10, 2014


Neonicitinoids: Bob Wolff will tell us what he has learned about the threat to honeybees of these “neonic” pesticides.
Winter survival:  It may be that many of our colonies have already used up their winter stores due to this winter’s severe cold, and are now in danger of freezing out.  Let’s hear from those who have checked their colonies, to get a line on what this year’s survival rate may be.
Swarm catching: Healthy hives are likely to divide in spring. Beekeepers can avoid some swarming by being alert for swarm cells and by making nucs, but swarms still happen.  Floyd Otdoerfer will talk about catching swarms.
Dues and Bee Hive Raffle.  I’ll collect 2014 membership dues, $5 per member or couple, at this March meeting.   As a further money-raiser, Paul Gardner has donated one of the hives he makes to be raffled off at that meeting.  These are special hives, painted, with screened bottom board, 2 hive bodies and one honey super, frames with foundation, inner cover and outer telescoping cover.  Come look the raffle hive over before the meeting.  Raffle tickets will be $5 each.  You must be present to win.

Library location:     1401 5th Street                             Coralville IA 52241           (Balloon on this map)

Come north on 12th Ave from Hwy 6 for one long block and cross over 5th Street.  Library parking is on the left (west).   Meet in Room A&B, the first room on the right in the library’s basement.