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