Thursday, December 17, 2015

Minutes from December 14th Meeting

(Note:  Our secretary was absent from this meeting, so the following is an abbreviated set of minutes from the meeting.)

Dave Irvin called the meeting to order at 6:40.  Floyd Otdoerfer gave a summary of the annual state meeting of the Iowa Honey Producers Association.  Primarily, he talked about how difficult it has become to raise bees with all the diseases, pests and pesticides the bees and beekeepers need to deal with.  Matt Stewart added comments about the business end as well and the fact that the midwest suffered 60% loss this last season, according to the winter loss survey conducted by the people from

Floyd also demonstrated some "quilt pillows" he has made to help insulate the top of a hive.  They also will help with moisture control within the hive.  He donated two of his pillows to the raffle at the end of the meeting.

Bob Wolff spoke about a Texas class action lawsuit that is looking for people whose colonies have been harmed by neonicotiniods.  (I will update this with more specific information when I have that available--sorry  JD)

Bob also talked about beginning beekeeping classes.  Currently, the class is full for 2016 at Indian Creek Nature Center.    However, for those wanting to get into a class this year, Wickiup Hill Learning Center is giving an 8 part series on the topic. Those wanting to participate should go to their website and contact them very soon.  Bob also indicated that Johnson County is also looking into beginning a program.  Contact Johnson County Conservation for more information.

One member, Mark,  suggested those interested in purchasing Minnesota Hygenic Queens should put orders together to try to get a better price.  He also felt the group needs to be more active in working against environmental problems such as pesitcides.

The meeting ended with a raffle, with Floyd's pillows, bags of pollen feed and an oxalic acid applicator generously donated by Paul Gardner.

Jim Davis, webmaster

Looking for packages for Spring, 2016?  Check out our Trading Post page for more information.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Meeting Agenda--Monday, December 14, 2015


·         Highlights of IHPA Conference, Cedar Rapids, Nov 13-14 (Floyd Otdoerfer and others)

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 6:00 is just to give folks time to chat.  Business meeting starts around 6:30 p.m.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Minutes from September 14, 2015 Meeting

60+ members attended.  16 New members:  Scott & Nicole Breese, Stephen Borkholder, Kevin Callahan, Don Combs, Scott Green, Brenda Hamilton, Mary Horn, Joel Johnson,  Megan Jones, Libby Kestel, Christian Nigon, Mike O’Leary, John Prineas, Courtney Olmsted, Ben Winborn,

Iowa Honey Producers Association: Annual Meeting, Fri/Sat November 13-14, Clarion Inn, 525 33rd Ave SW, Cedar Rapids.  Speakers: Meghan Milbrath, Greg Haniford, Mary Harris, Michelle Colopy, Adam Dolezal.

Oxalic Acid Applicator: Paul Gardner ( makes units that vaporize oxalic acid powder to treat for varroa mites. They have a 2-inch-square heater on the end of a shaft which you stick in the lower entrance of the hive; no blower needed.  It takes about 2 minutes per hive, not counting time to close off vents to keep the vapor in.  The applicators are powered by standard 12-volt car batteries, and are offered for ~$120 each.
Paul Gardner demonstrating a two jar method for counting mites.

State Apiarist Andy Joseph: State inspections are going forward.  Bees look good over most of Iowa.  Honey production seems to be up in the state this year.  There was lots of swarming, and inspectors are seeing small hive beetles and varroa mites.  Now is time to treat for varroa; Andy recommends Apiguard.

State apiarist Andy Joseph gave a very informative talk on winter preparation.

Preparing hives for winter (Andy, with additional comments from audience). Equalize hives in the fall; distribute honey frames and combine or shake out weak hives that won’t make it anyhow. Start feeding if needed (sugar water in a feeder or sugar on a newspaper under the top cover--not sugar patties, which are good for winter/spring, but not now).  You want 11-12 honey frames per hive.  Check pollen stores, too—pollen makes for brood and young bees that will survive the winter.  A good general rule is that 10-frame two-deeps must weigh at least 110 lbs to survive an Iowa winter. Glen Stanley used to actually weigh his hives, one side at a time, though most beekeepers just heft and make sure each hive feels about right. Hives need insulation, at least on top: 2” styrofoam is good.  Wrap hives with black insulating material, tar paper or builders wrap.  Ventilation is important to remove moisture: Floyd drills a hole in the top hive body and inserts a drain pipe a few inches long to make the condensed vapor drip outside. Dave uses a thickened inner cover with a front vent hole located low enough to clear the outer cover.  Winter clusters tend to move up, not sideways, and so may fail to access honey frames along the sides; for that reason, Floyd replaces his outside frames with extra insulation blanks. 
ECIBA secretary Dave Campbell shows how to provide ventilation in the hive.
By fall, the bee population is down to less than half of summer maximums, meaning: (a) it is time to reduce lower entrances, to help guard against robbing, and (b) even if mites haven’t built up (though they have!), there will now be at least twice as many mites per bee as you had in high summer. So, test for mites and treat if needed.  A standard test is the ether roll test—scrape nurse bees into a mason jar. Be careful—don’t get the queen.  One inch of bees in the bottom of the jar is about 300 bees, but do an actual count if you don’t have too many hives to make counting impractical.  Give it a 2-second blast of ether (the stuff you used to squirt in the carburetors of really old cars to start them on a cold morning) and shake 30 seconds.  Dump the dead bees and count mites.  An alternate, non-lethal test uses powdered sugar (see last newsletter).  If you have more than ~3 mites per 100 bees, think about treating.  There are many possible treatments; stagger them, so as to not build up mite resistance to any single one.  Good practice is to treat for mites a few times a year to keep them from building up. Pay attention to recommended temperature ranges for the various treatments; Mite-Away strips if it is not too hot, Apivar or Apiguard when warmer.  HopGuard is especially gentle, good to use in the early spring.  Beware of some older products, like CheckMite or Apistan, which use coumaphos (a human carcinogen).  Remove honey supers before doing your final fall treatment.  Note that pesticide residuals will accumulate in comb wax, so that it is good practice to retire old frames with discolored comb.  A way to do that is to take out the 2 darkest frames from each 10-frame box each year.  Put them in the lower hive body; in spring the bees will be in the upper hive body, and you can easily discard them then. 

==Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Meeting Agenda--September 14

·         Preparing hives for winter (Dave Campbell & Floyd Otdoerfer)
·         Speaker:  Iowa State Apiarist Andy Joseph.  Talk likely includes Andy’s report on how statewide beekeeping is shaping up for 2015.

                                      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. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Minutes from June 6, 2015 Meeting

 Notes from 6/8/2015 Meeting

51 members attended.  New members:  Kelli Haught, Paul Johanson, Tim Jones, Dana Junkin, Bill Montgomery, Ed and Lynn St John, Thomas Tucker, Jessica Westin

Johnson County Fair:  We still need volunteers to man our beekeepers tent at the Johnson County Fair, July 27-30.  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—Dave Irvin; 3rd–open; Tuesday, 1st Shift—Floyd and Pat Otdoerfer, 2nd—Charlie Hoehnle, 3rd—open; Wednesday, 1st—Paul Millice, 2nd—Dana Junkin, 3rd—Larry and Arlene Spina; Thursday, 1st—Paul Millice, 2nd—open, 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.
Bob Wolff encourages members to submit entries to the Iowa State Fair

Iowa State fair: (Bob Wolff) Iowa State Fair will be August 13-23, 2015, 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 11th), and they will go up on Wednesday.   Contest categories and entry forms can be downloaded from  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.

Beekeeping equipment: Long-time ECIBA member Jim Clark has died, and his estate wants to sell his beekeeping gear.   This includes many hive bodies and 3-frame nuc boxes.  Contact Bob Wolff at ICNC if interested.

Bee catching and removal: Dave Irvin has retired from doing carpentry, but is still available for catching and removing swarms.  We need a list of other ECIBA members who might be available to catch and remove swarms, as well: contact Dave Campbell to get on the contact list.  Contact 
Jim Davis to get listed on this web page,
Dave Irvin demonstrates the use of a sprayer for mites.

Speaker Adam Ebert: Adam’s father, Phil, started Ebert Honey (Lynnville IA) when Adam was small; the business now has ~1200 colonies, dealing in honey, wax, queens, and nucs.  Adam and wife now live near Mt. Vernon, and have extended the Ebert business to eastern Iowa.  Adam runs several hundred colonies sited up and down I-380, concentrating on honey production.  He charges $35/hive for pollinating crops.  Adam’s quick way to make splits is to put 3 frames of brood (plus a few frames with honey/pollen) in an empty hive body, shake off all the bees (to be sure to dump the queen), and put the new box above the old with a queen excluder in between.  (Obvious point: replace frames taken from the old box with frames of drawn comb.)  Nurse bees will come up through the excluder to tend the brood, and you can then move the split.  Best do this in April or through mid-May; Adam says a really vigorous colony might provide as many as 3 or 4 splits.  The nucs  have to be queened, and are more likely to accept a ripe queen cell than a caged queen.  Adam’s experience is that nuc boxes need not be staggered in orientation or color; whether a new queen on her virgin flights gets back home to her nuc seems to depend more on weather than on nuc box location.  Adam has a nuc success rate of 75-80%.  Don’t put nucs too near an ag field where they might be sprayed, but be sure the neighbor farmers know what you are up to.  Choose nuc sites with a wind break.  Adam doesn’t worry much about shade or nearby water; most places in eastern Iowa will have a pond or stream within a quarter mile, and that’s close enough. 
Adam Ebert talks about his experiences with queen rearing.

 Fresh hatched queens are skinny and small, and may be hard to spot.  It is only after their virginal flights are over that they will get plump and have a shinier thorax.  Practice catching queens by the wings (practice with drones or workers), and then hold them by at least two legs.  She will twist off her leg if you only hold her by one, and then be a cripple.  Queen cells from a vigorous hive are a boon: move them to nucs or to a queenless colony that has laying workers.  A laying worker colony will seldom accept a new caged queen, but it will readily hatch out and accept an introduced queen cell for supercedure.  Adam has his honey supers off by 3rd week of August, and treats for varroa using apiguard or hopguard. He tests for varroa using ether rolls on ~300 bee samples.  He leaves on a vented inner cover for ventilation during winter.
==Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary

From the "What the heck is this?" Dept.
If you have any idea what this is, and if it has any relationship with beekeeping, please comment on the bottom of this page.  Pretty sure it isn't for straining honey!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Meeting Agenda--Monday, June 8th

·         Sign-up for bee booth, Johnson County 4-H Fair, July 27-30.

·         Speaker:  ECIBA member Adam Ebert.  The May, 2015 issue of American Bee Journal had an article “Ebert Honey in Iowa Diversifies for Stability”.  Part of the Ebert family’s diversification involves expansion from their base in Lynnville IA to new works at Adam’s home in Mt. Vernon.  Adam will tell us more.
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. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Minutes from March 9, 2015

59 members attended.  Dues collected from 51 families.  New members: Paul Baker, Janet McKee, James Miller, Mickey Motyko, Terri O’Berry, Claudia Ternes, Max Trimpe.

(a) Thanks to those who paid this year’s ECIBA dues, $5 per family.  (“Family”=all those at the same address.) New members should note that belonging to ECIBA does NOT automatically enroll them in Iowa Honey Producers Association.  To join IHPA check out  IHPA dues are $20/year.  
(b) IHPA Conference this fall (Nov 12-14) will be held at Clarion Inn, Cedar Rapids.  This is a change—up to now we met in Marshalltown.  
(c) Central Iowa Beekeepers auction—April 18 in Perry IA.  Submit or buy cleaned-up used equipment.  
(d) Tri-State (IA-WI-MN) beekeepers meeting is being planned for summer 2016 in Minneapolis.  
(e) One-time ECIBA member Jeralyn Westercamp is 2014 IHPA Honey Princess.  Jeralyn is available to promote honey at fairs and meetings. 

(f) Jim Clark has stopped beekeeping, and has 28 hives worth of equipment to sell.  Contact Bob Wolff at Indian Creek Nature Center. 
(g) Dave Hayes is starting a new beekeepers club for folks in the Maquoketa area.  Another new club may be starting in the Quad Cities.  
(h) Practical Farmers of Iowa is holding a webinar on spray drift, March 24, 7:00 p.m., led by the folks at Grinnell Organic Farm.

ECIBA business: we voted to offer a $25 prize again this year to the best beekeeping project at the Johnson County 4- Fair.

Winter Survival Rates:  More of our colonies seemed to have survived this winter than last: a rough count among members present suggested a survival rate perhaps as high as 75%.

Swarm Catching: Floyd Otdoerfer pointed out that we must expect colonies to swarm late April through mid-June.  To inhibit swarming, be sure colonies have enough space (supers with some drawn foundation) for egg laying.  Nevertheless, hives may start new queens in preparation for swarming.  Every 10 days or so, check for that by tipping up the lower hive body to inspect for queen cells hanging down. You can scrape off the queen cells to keep new queens from hatching; in this case, be sure to add more foundation space immediately.  (As old ECIBA member Myron Sorensen used to say, “ Always give your bees something to do.  Keep them busy!”) Alternately, use frames with queen cells to put in splits.  A good time to make splits: first week in May.  Despite these precautions, there may be swarms anyway.  New swarms sometimes settle in an empty hive body left near your apiary.  Bait the lure trap with frames of comb.  It may help to drip a few drops of lemon grass essential oil inside.  Another possibility is to mount lure traps in shaded locations beside a bee flyway (along the edge of a woodlot, ideally ~8-12’ above ground). The March 2015 issue of American Bee Journal discusses this, giving plans for building bee trap boxes.  The author says optimal size/shape seems to be similar to 5-frame nuc boxes stacked two-high.  Only a few frames are needed to lure in the scout bees; use old frames with lots of propolis, including at least one old frame with dark wax if you have it.  In any case, check lure boxes frequently.  Wax moths will take over unattended frames with wax..

Floyd showed his rig to catch a swarm that has settled in a tree.  This consists of a big hoop net on the end of a long telescoping pole.  Using that, he seldom has to climb up ladders.  Instead, he baits the net with a fresh frame of brood, and jiggles it under the swarm.  The brood frame lures the swarm down into the net. The queen will usually be low in the swarm cluster, and if you can jiggle her into the net the whole swarm will soon follow.

General Discussions: (a) What about these Australian flow hives, with self-draining comb foundation?  Interesting, but can they handle cold and propolis build-up? 
(b) Now is time to start feeding protein, so queens will lay eggs.  If colonies are low on honey, start feeding heavy syrup (2:1 sugar:water), too.  But once started, don’t stop. Hungry bees will cannibalize brood. Leave insulation on top of hives until cold weather is clearly over. 
(c) FDA will soon approve oxalic acid (wood bleach) in USA for killing varroa mites. There will have to be strict guidelines to keep honey safe.  An alternative is formic acid, the only mite-killer generally considered to be “organic”.  (Note, however, that there are no clear rules for organic honey.  There are suggested guidelines only, not yet included in official National Organic Program regulations.)  To apply either oxalic or formic acid, you need a vaporizer with good temperature controls: expensive!

BBKA Record Cards: I gave out samples of my version of the British Beekeepers record cards described in the Feb 2015 issue of Bee Culture. I printed them on 5”x8” cards that can be taped on the inner cover of each hive to keep track of feeding, honey harvested, and other useful observations. The cards should have had an extensive legend printed on the back suggesting abbreviations to use in filling them out, but some did not. I have asked our webmaster, Jim Davis, to post the Excel file for these cards (which includes the complete legend) on our website ( for those who may want to print up more copies for themselves.  You will find this on the Resources page.

==Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary