Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Minutes from December 11, 2017

Attendance:  27

President Dave Irvin called the meeting to order at 6:40.  He welcomed and   asked new attendees  to identify themselves and  tell a bit about themselves and  where they  are with beekeeping.

Floyd Otdoerfer:

Floyd began the  meeting with a review of the  annual meeting of the Iowa Honey Producers Association, held in Oskaloosa November 10 and 11.  The meeting was well attended, with a number  of vendors present.

Much discussion from various speakers focused on the varroa mite, its effects and control strategies.  State apiarist Andy Joseph talked about the importance  off making splits, which helps limit the number of mites per hive.   He suggests doing splits about  the  3rd week of April.  Be sure to feed hives mid-March, as  that is a prime time for  hive starvation.  Mites may begin slowly in the spring but 1 mite in April can become 150 mites in August, according to Pat Ennis and Adam Ebert, who spoke  at  the meeting.  1000 mites can doom a hive.  Though mites are often seen in photos  located on the  upper thorax of  the  bee, they actually feed on the bees underside.

There was considerable discussion of mite control, with oxalic acid listed as a favorite treatment, since it does not significantly harm the bees, being a natural substance even found in honey.  Most  seemed to favor  the dribble method, but local beekeepers such as Paul Gardner prefers the  vapor method.  Paul said he treats after Thanksgiving, with one of the benefits of using vapor is it can be applied in cold weather, and in fact  is  better  applied when it  is colder.  It was mentioned that Randy Oliver has said that the duration of contact of the bees with the oxalic acid is an important factor in its efficacy.

Dennis VanEnglesdorp indicated that summer  losses have now become as serious as  winter losses.  He says hives should be treated for varroa 3 to 4 times per  year.  He also suggests keeping  colonies young.  If you have a rob-out, take care of the hive  right away so bees do  not  pick  up and spread mites and diseases.  Again, making splits and having  young, vigorous queens can help keep a colony strong.  Keeping hives spread  out instead of sitting immediately next to  each other can  help minimize disease and pests.

Adam Ebert talked about  queen rearing.  He says grafting late afternoon is the prime time.  If a queen cell becomes damaged, adding a small amount of beeswax can help save the cell.  Adam says 25% of  queens being  developed do not survive.  Middle May is a prime time for queen production.  Adam likes to run about 25 hives at a site.  Marian Ellis,  from Nebraska, says that feeding bees before introducing a new queen can help with acceptance.  Keep the queen in her cage for 4 days.  Give the bees something to do to help distract so  they are not  focusing solely on the new queen, even so much as adding a bit  of honey to the cage.

Thanks to Patty Stewart for bringing in some  tasty honey from Cuba and Italy to sample.


Floyd began a discussion of winterization  methods.  Some members wrap,  some do not.  Protect hives from wind on the north and west sides.  Moisture is a big  concern.  The  use of  quilt boxes,  stuffed  pillows or  even, as Floyd uses, having  pipes lead out from  inside the hive  can help with excessive moisture  in  the hive in the winter.  Even placing bags of  leaves  around the hive  can help insulate.  It was mentioned that the Mountain Camp method of putting a pile of sugar on newspaper on top of the frames can absorb moisture.

Other Items

--Using ultraviolet light to treat frames from a deadout was discussed.  Those interested may  help participate in an informal study to see how effective the treatment is.  Contact Will Swain for more  information.

--Paul Gardner  will be  selling packages April 16 and May 12.  Contact Paul at 319-400-4228.

--Floyd said  we will try to get a speaker for the March meeting.  There will be others at the next meeting who also will be offering packages for sale.

--Tim Willbanks suggests having cotton balls  or some kind of  fluffy material on the hive floor  can help trap mites.

--if you hold a frame up to the light and seee small crystals, it is not crystallized honey but mite defecation

--small hive beetles are now in our area.  Minimizing the  amount of  space bees have to cover to control  the beetles is important. 

--In April, a joint study between the  US Geological Surveyand the University of Iowa found traces of neonicotinoids in the Iowa River and even in local tap water.

--Sneeze weed (helenium annarum) , also known as bitterweed, can be found in roadside flower  mixes.  It  can produce a bitter honey and should be avoided if possible.


Thanks again to Floyd for providing items for a raffle to end the meeting.

Submitted by Jim Davis, Secretary
Please send any corrections or additions to

Thursday, November 30, 2017

December Meeting Agenda

Monday, December 11, 2017

6:30-8:30 (Doors open at 6:00, business meeting begins at 6:30)

Coralville Public Library, conference rooms A & B


--Notes from the state Iowa Honey Producers annual meeting

--Firm up membership roster, addresses

--Winter preparation

--New beekeeper mentorship

--Door prizes

--Time for socializing

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 at 6:30 p.m. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Minutes from September 11, 2017

Minutes of the East Central Iowa Beekeepers Association
September 11, 2017

The meeting was called to order by President Dave Irvin at 6:35 pm.

President’s Notes:
Dave announced that our checking account was closed at the bank for being below the minimum. We currently have only about $15 in the treasury.

The Iowa County Conservation Commission is doing preliminary planning for an event to be held in roughly a year from now. The program will be held near Marengo, to be named something like Honey Fest or Pollen Fest. They are looking for vendors to be present, so if you are interested contact a member of the Iowa County Conservation Commission.

Paul Campbell of Tipton, one of our members, is ill and has a number of hives to be taken care of.  If anyone is interested in helping with the bees they should contact his home.  Call Dave Irvin for more information.

Vice-President’s Notes:
Floyd began a discussion of sources of seed for bee-friendly plantings. Alfalfa (hay) seed was suggested. Various plants that bees seem to be attracted to late summer include shallots, broccili and lavender.

How to prevent swarms? A discussion ensued about the use of entrance reducers. Many beekeepers, including Matt Stewart, keep hives pretty well closed up at the entrance even through the summer to reduce the chances of swarming.

November 10th and 11th are the dates for the Iowa Honey Producers annual meeting. Forms for registration are found online at, which is the September newsletter. They hope to have online registration available for the 2018 meeting.

Floyd also mentioned an article in The Buzz about the use of Roundup herbicide. Dr. Bruce Rafoth talks about the damage to bees and other organisms as the chemical can destroy essential gut flora, thereby killing the organisms and cautions against its overuse.

Floyd asked if anyone attended the summer Field Day held at Wickiup Hill. James Miller attended and mentioned new formulas were presented for pollen patties and there were demonstrations of jigs for making hive equipment and learned about how to make creamed honey. There was also a seminar on mite control and a good crowd was on hand.

The State Fair had a good number of entries this year, though there were only 3 in the comb honey category. Some expressed frustration with trying to get the bees to produce comb honey.

Floyd mentioned problems he has had getting bees in some hives to move through a queen excluder. Having a hive entrance above the supers can help, as can having a honey barrier above the brood nest inhibit a queen’s movement above such a barrier, members suggested.

Jim Davis will serve as club secretary, now that Erin Miller is taking on other duties in her area.

Matt Stewart:
Matt informed the group about the passing of a former club member and past president of the Iowa Honey Producers Association, Paul Goossen. Paul had also been the original owner of Noble Bee Honey and sold the business to Matt and Pat.

Matt also talked about the problems with neonicotinoids remaining in the ground for a long time and the effects that can have on bees.

These items were brought in by Dave Irvin to be identified. Matt Stewart suggested the top item was to be put in the front entrance to prevent the queen and drones from leaving, to prevent swarming. The lower item could be used for moving a hive.

General Discussion:

Shane Bixby announced dthe creation of a new bee club out of Wickiup Hill Learning Center. They will meet monthly, the third Tuesday of the month. Contact Wickiup Hill for more information. Shane said that the honey crop from the northern counties was very good this year.

A reminder about bee stings—several reports were given about people having severe reactions to bee stings. Allergic reactions to the stings can happen at any time, even after years of being stung. A severe reaction to stings can be fatal and needs to be taken seriously. Beekeepers are encouraged to have medications such as liquid benadryl or, better yet, epipens accessible.

Yellow jackets are also a problem this time of year as they tend to get more aggressive and are out in large numbers. Methods of killing hives were discussed, including pouring soapy water in their nest or using Sevin.

A question about purchasing bees’ wax was asked. Two sources mentioned are:
Dennis Navs in Doddsville 319-393-7947

Dennis Nielson in Newhall 319-223-5806

The meeting officially ended at 7:50 with time for general socializing.
Jim Davis, Secretary

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Minutes from June 12, 2017

General Business:

Dave Irvin called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.

General Business:

Johnson County Fair:  The fair this year will be July 24-July 27.  A sign-up sheet was passed around so people could volunteer to work in our tent, which this year will be shared with the Burr Oak Land Trust group.  Dave encouraged people to attend as it is a fun, entertaining and educational event.  He noted how more informed about bees visitors seem to have become in recent years.

IHPA Summer Field Day:  Saturday, July 15th in Linn County at Wickiup Hill Learning Center.  Attendance is limited to 125 participants, so early registration is recommended.  See the Iowa Honey Producers website for further details.

Iowa State Fair entries:  The deadline for entries for the 2017 State Fair is July 14th.  In the past, Indian Creek Nature Center has helped take area entries to the Fair.  It is uncertain if that is happening this year so interested members are encouraged to contact Indian Creek.

Bee Removal:  Dave has received numerous requests this spring to remove bees and asked for and received volunteers to help take some of those jobs.

Beekeeping Equipment (Floyd Otdoerfer):  Floyd presented several items he recommends carrying in his field bucket.  First, he described how a frame gripper can be very handy and less likely to upset the bees by rolling them between frames as the frame is removed.  These can possibly be purchased locally at Theisen's or Paul's Discount though certainly can be ordered through any of the beekeeping catalogs.  He also keeps a bread knife or even a paint scraper with a good handle to remove bur comb.  A magnifying glass was suggested (Jim Davis) as a way to observe eggs and young larva.

In other bee management topics, Floyd suggested the use of blue shop towels coated with apple cider as a means of removing mites, as described by Randy Oliver, Soak the shop towel with the cider or perhaps cooking oil and place it atop the brood box.  As the bees walk over the towel the mites can be rubbed off.  Floyd suggests doing this several times during the summer season, and since it is a food-safe activity it can be done with supers in place.
Floyd also discussed the use of linseed oil as a way of preserving hive body parts such as bottom boards, in lieu of painting them.  He also coats the top edges of hive bodies and the box corner joints.
He next demonstrated a system he uses to help avoid overwintered nuc losses in late spring.  He places foil on top of the frames, covered with an insulating "pillow".  On top of this be puts a curved piece of sheet metal, with a block on top to hold it in place.

General Discussion:

--Several members talked about their favorite types of fuel.  Wood pellets can burn long though they tend to burn hot, so use another material such as grass to cool the smoke.  Other fuels suggested included wood chips, sawdust and corrugated cardboard.
--How high should a colony be off the ground?  A big concern is how high one wants to lift a heavy super. A platform to stand on to lift the top supers more easily was suggested.
--A discussion of various animals that eat bees ensued.  Possums will eat bees off the landing pad.  Dragonflies have also been noted flying around the hives, supposedly to catch and eat bees in flight.
--How many times can honey frames be reused?  Several members said they can be used time and again as long as they are structurally fit.

Jim Davis, filling in for Erin Miller

Tuesday, June 6, 2017



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.  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

March Meeting 2017

Here are some photos from the meeting in March.  Sorry about the  late posting.  Turnout for the meeting was good.  Paul Gardner of Precious Bee Farm made another fine donation of a complete beehive.

Matt Stewart of Noble Bees talked about how to register hives with the state sensitive crops registry.
Other topics included discussion of winter hive losses and changes in the laws regarding use  of antibiotics with bees.

Tammy Wright of the Bur Oak Land Trust spoke about her organization and indicated land parcels that might benefit from having hives placed on them.

The next meeting will be Monday, June 12th.   Hope to see you there.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Meeting Tonight

The March meeting will be held tonight as usual, in the lower level of the Coralville Public Library, beginning at 6:30.  The room will be open at 6:00 for social time.

Hope  to see everyone there!  Travel by this evening in the area should not be a huge issue, but surfaces may begin to freeze, so drive safely as always.