Saturday, September 15, 2018

Minutes from September 10, 2018

East Central Iowa Beekeepers Association
Minutes from September 10, 2018

***** Important Notice: The date for our December meeting will be Tuesday the 11th rather than the 10th due to conflicts with availability of the meeting rooms at the Coralville Library. The December meeting will be in room A of the Coralville Library as usual.

The meeting was called to order by Dave Irvin. New members were introduced.
A big thanks was given for those who volunteered to help with the bee tent at the Johnson County Fair.
Dave gave an update on his health condition, and we're glad he is looking well.
State Fair:
Some members attended and enjoyed the experience, though it was hot. Crowds at the bee exhibit were steady.
Honey Crops:
Various members reported on their season's production. Results were mixed. Currently, there is a lot of goldenrod but bees don't seem to be on it much.
A sheet was passed around for those who are interested in working with someone to learn about beekeeping and those who are mentoring or would be interested in mentoring.
*** Working with another to share your knowledge and experience can be fun and rewarding. If you would be willing to work with someone, please contact one of the individuals below.
Samantha Jacobs 319-431-8644
Rob McCain 319-621-7653    
Small Hive Beetles:
There seems to be an increase in the number of small hive beetles in our area. Keeping a strong hive will diminish the effects they may have on a hive. Some suggest having limestone around the base of the hives to keep the area dry, which may discourage the beetles.
Creamed Honey:
Bill and Tina Jennings run Rapid Creek Honey from their backyard apiary. They currently have 11 hives and sell at the farmer's market. Creamed honey is popular at the market. The Dice method is the standard method of creating creamed honey and this can be found online. However, Bill uses an egg beater to blend up crystallized honey. He puts about a tablespoon of this into a jar of clear honey and after several days in the refrigerator the jar has turned into creamed honey, with a nice firm consistency. He does not heat the clear honey as the Dice method recommends, as this destroys many of the healthy aspects of the honey. The Jennings offered taste samples, then, of their creamed honey. Discussion followed with questions about moisture content, temperature effects on honey, and various names creamed honey goes by.
Bill also talked about his experience with Apivar, a mite treatment, applied after honey removal. He has had 100% winter survival using this treatment method. Floyd mentioned the chemical doesn't kill the mites but weakens them so they can't attach to the host. Bill also keeps a stack of hives through the winter rather than reducing to one deep chamber. The importance of ventilation and methods of ventilating the hive was discussed by various members.
Matt Stewart/Neonicotinoids:
Matt spoke about some agricultural practices that are detrimental to honey bees, particularly neonicotinoids.
North American Mite-A-Thon:
An information sheet was passed around about this national mite survey taking place September 8-15.
Winter Prep:
Look at hives to see if feeding is needed. Pure honey fed back is best but sugar water also works.
Make sure to do mite treatments.
Close off screened bottom boards, put mouse guards in place. Strips to keep varmints from eating bees are recommended as well.
Wrapping hives also recommended, black roofing felt is common. Be sure to leave holes for access and ventilation. Placing hives close to one another can help protect them.
Hives can be moved for better winter protection, once winter starts.
General Comments:
Floyd has some extra equipment he will make available since he is downsizing. Contact him for more information.
Best mite treatment? Many options, but oxalic acid or strips such as Apivar are recommended.
After extraction, let the bees clean up the honey supers.
Questions were raised about how to protect frames from wax moths after extraction. Freeze frames after extracted and cleaned to kill larva/eggs, then moth balls can be used to help keeps moths away.
Someone could volunteer to attend the November Annual meeting of the Iowa Honey Producers and report on that. (If anyone would like to do this, please email or phone Jim Davis to get on the agenda. 319-626-2998. )

Topic ideas for the December meeting:
--Many recent reports have focused on declining quality of queens. Is there research to support this?
--A calendar of flower blooms throughout the year could be made available to club members.
--A field trip to someone's apiary could be arranged

Minutes submitted by Jim Davis (

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Minutes from the June 11 Meeting

East Central Iowa Beekeepers Association

Minutes from June 11, 2018

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 by president Dave Irvin
New members were introduced and welcomed.

Dave gave a treasury report. Beginning balance was $223. $125 was spent for the tent at the 2018 Johnson County Fair, half of which was reimbursed by the Burr Oak Land Trust, which will be sharing the tent. $70 was spent to reimburse for mailing costs (envelopes, stamps, and mailing labels).

A sign-up sheet went around for people to sign up for our tent at the Johnson County Fair. The fair again will be 4 days, July 22-25th, but this year will begin on a Sunday and end on a Wednesday.

Updates from Floyd:
--The State Fair will be held August 9 through the 19th. Information about entering items to be judged can be found in the Iowa Honey Producer's newsletter—TheBuzz. The Iowa Honey Producers will also be looking for people to volunteer to work in their area, answering questions and selling products. Free fair admission is given to volunteers.

-Iowa Summer Field Days, an annual event, will be held Saturday, June 30th, at Dordt College in Souix Center, Iowa. Pre-registration is required and limited. Information can be found on the Iowa Honey Producers web site.

--Swarm season is at hand. Various members discussed their experiences with swarms this season. Floyd reminded people to watch your hives for wax moths already, and don't have more boxes on hives than bees can occupy and protect.

--Paul's Discount still has some bee equipment for sale as part of its closing sales.

--Floyd mentioned a beekeeper who used Apivar last August and had 100% survival over winter.

--Patty Stewart pointed out that the local publication Tidbits has articles about honey.

Bob Wolfe:

Bob gave a presentation on his trip this May to Ghana, Africa, to work in a collaborative project involving value added bee products, such as lotions, candles, creams, honey, royal jelly, pollen, propolis, bee bread and even bee venom. Following is a summary of his talk.

The project was a collaborative effort working with members of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The goal of the program is not to eliminate poverty directly but to enhance opportunities for success, according to Bob. Products derived from beekeeping can be a way for people in Ghana to develop successful economic enterprises. Honey is a valuable commodity, being six times more expensive than oil.
The project involved learning about teaching about product development, marketing, holding workshops, making fielf visits, and holding community dialogues in three distinct regions. Workshops included working on hive construction, making creams and lotions and candles, among other things. Hives are of the top bar variety, with an African twist. Instead of the tapering sides, due to lack of tools to create those the hives are made from whatever wood is available and made into a square shape, typically 30 to 35 frames in length, with corrugated metal covers. Hives are kept on a metal stand with heavy oils put at the base of each leg to control ant infestations. The lotions have an oil base, varying amounts of wax depending on the consistency desired for each type, with selected essential oils added as well.
Bob indicated beekeepers in Ghana work with two types of stingless bees and then the African honey bee. The stingless bees produce small amounts of honey in what are called “honey pots”, made from a combination of wax and propolis. Where Bob visited, the two varieties were kept in hives in two separate locations, former chicken coops. The African bees present quite a challenge, as they are very aggressive. Even with very warm temperatures, it is essential that the beekeeper wear a full, long set of clothing under a full bee suit with any possible tiny opening covered with duct tape, since the bees will enter even the smallest opening. Bees are worked at night, with flashlights, in the jungle, when the bees are most calm (which isn't very!) and only once a month. Honey is cut from the comb and brood returned to the hive. The African bees do not have many of the diseases and pests we face in the West.
Bob plans to return to Ghana again and feels the project was successful. Ghanans face many challenges, such as tools and equipment, but inroads are being made to help with education and marketing.

Bob followed his talk with a short film about stingless bees. Look for a link coming soon to our website that will allow you to view the film online as soon as Bob can get it uploaded.

A wax strainer, donated by Ed and Rita Porter, former ECIBA members, was offered to any member who could use it.

Minutes submitted by Jim Davis, Secretary

Participate in the 2018 North American Mite-A-Thon?  Check out 

our In the News page for  more information.

Friday, May 25, 2018

June Meeting Agenda

 Our next quarterly meeting will be held Monday, June 11th, from 6 to 8 pm., in the lower level meeting room A of the Coralville Public Library.  The doors will be open at 6 with the meeting beginning at 6:30.  Public is welcome to attend.


--Main speaker--Bob Wolff, talking about his recent trip to Ghana, Africa, to teach value added bee products. 

--Sign-up for our booth at the Johnson County Fair
--Information about upcoming events, such as the Summer Field Day
--Spring swarm information
--Questions and general discussion.
As usual, there will be time for socializing and refreshments.
Dues are normally collected in March but may be paid at any meeting.  Dues are $5.00 per year per household.
Hope to see you there!

Jim Davis, Secretary ECIBA

Friday, March 30, 2018

African Outreach

Bob Wolff, a longtime member of ECIBA, is planning a May trip to Ghana, Africa, to work with a local community there  to instruct beekeepers in methods of developing value-added products related to bees.  The date is rapidly approaching, and one of the members of the team, a young woman from Cedar Rapids, Emma Kieckhaefer, is trying to raise the money to be able to go.  She has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise enough money to pay for her visa, passage, board, etc.  Any help would be appreciated!  Bob plans to report back to our club at the June meeting and it would be great if we can help this young person share in this experience. 
The link to her page is here: Gofundme

Thanks for any support you can give.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Minutes from March 12, 2018

Minutes March 12, 2018

The meeting was called to order after social time and dues collected. Members also checked and updated the membership list.

Speakers Special thanks to Tim and Adam for providing terrific information from their perspective as professionals in the field.

Tim Willbanks (Kalona Honey Company):  Tim talked primarily about the business of preparing and purchasing package bees.  Highlights are listed below:

March through the end of May is a very busy time. One aspect of beekeeping he stressed was the variability of keeping bees. Three hives, started equally at the same time with fresh queens, can vary greatly in how they succeed. He said it’s the Property of Thirds, in which one third will be a weak hive, one third will be average and the other third will produce above average. The queen will mate with a number of drones, as many as 12 to 15 or more,so while all queens may have the same start, the fact that they mate with a number of different drones can produce varying results.
Currently, in California, the almond trees are winding up their blooming phase. Hives placed in the groves are building up large numbers of bees. After working in the groves, the bees will be placed in a holding area waiting to be shipped and sold as packages. Georgia and California are among the prime locations for packages. They produce a lot of bees early. In California last year, producers had to deal with extremes of weather, from record drought to record rains, followed by dry, fire prone conditions. Georgia dealt with two hurricanes, which knocked down a lot of the pollen and food sources. Tim uses daily weather summaries to help monitor how his bees are doing on a daily basis.
Tim talked about the importance of good conditions for raising queens, which includes good weather during early development of the queen and good weather after her emergence so she can have successful mating. If conditions are not adequate, California suppliers will not have an abundant quantity of quality queens to ship. One way to tell a good queen—what is the response to the worker bees to the queen. If there is an abundance of bees attending the queen, they are responding positively to her pheremone and she likely is a quality queen.
--When purchasing package bees, ask for the origin of the bees you are buying. If fantastic claims are being made about the bees, ask for more information. The seller should be transparent and provide sufficient information about their source. What is the reliability of the seller—what is their past record of providing a good product. Can you follow up with the seller if you have questions or problems after the sale? What is the longevity of the supplier—are they doing this on a short term basis or are they in it for the long run?
--To keep bees successful, you need to have good location. Variable food sources, availability of water, and reliable weather (a problem in Iowa!) Does the food source vary from year to year, depending on what is being planted? Pick a location that can be more predicable for food.

--The Southern District meeting of the Wisconsin Honey Producers will be held March 17th at Milton, Wisconsin. Dr. Marla Spivak of the Universiity of Minnesota will be one of the main speakers. Tim is the District Chair.

Tim gave personal account of his son’s experience with having a severe reaction to a bee sting. His son survived a frightening reaction to a sting, and is currently receiving treatment to alleviate his sensitivity to bee stings. He wanted to point out that one should never assume that our children/grandchildren and other family members may be immune to such serious reactions.

Adam Ebert (Ebert Honey): Adam gave a summary of the family business, which is primarily located in two places (near Grinnell and around Mt. Vernon).
--Winter checking: they will open their hives in winter if it is at least in the 20’s to take a quick check, and supplement with patties or liquid syrup if needed. A smaller cluster would not do well with liquid feed but a stronger hive will take down warm syrup quickly. This would be a look from the top, not taking the hive apart. Continue checking in March, feeding if necessary, and start looking to split by mid-April through early May. Adam notes that he has seen more European foulbrood the past several years than in the past. This would be something to look for in the spring. Terramycin has shown to be pretty effective in treating this disease.
--When hives have tremendous buildup in the spring, swarming is always a possibility. You need to decide whether to split, add supers, or just watch and hope for the best. If there is not a good nectar flow going on, just adding supers to give the bees more space won't guarantee they will not swarm.
--Adam indicated his bee survival rate from winter was pretty good, with probably better than 70% survival rate, though his father's operation in central Iowa sustained greater losses. He uses a rule of thumb of 50% allows you to build back without having to purchase packages and/or nucs. His guess as to why some of his hives died was due to smaller clusters and the extreme cold temperatures this winter. Some of his dead-outs had sufficient food, had begun breeding and when they are doing this they tend to stay in one place and die rather than move to more food. Don' worry about removing all the dead bees. Knock out what you can and don't let the frame sit and mold in the spring and the bees will clean it up when you put it in a new hive.
--A strong hive can easily be split two to four times. Two good frames of brood will be enough to get a strong hive going by early June. Giving liquid supplement can help the bees grow until there is enough natural nectar. Mix in some old honey if you have some.
--Trees are a very large source of early pollen, rather than flowers. Maples and willows are particularly good early flowering trees, as are fruit trees such as apple. As for flowers, dandilions are great.
--Adam's method of splitting hives: a. take 2 or 3 frames with brood. b. shake the bees off those frames into a brood box, then fill that box with drawn frames c. Put a queen excluder on the box, then set another box on top with the brood frames in it. d. the workers will move up to cover the brood and you can check the lower box in a few days to see if the queen is present there and laying.
--To attempt to get a successful queen, you have approximately 4 days if you have eggs on the frame or two days with young larva. Try not to check for queen cells until at least two weeks have passed or you may risk damaging the queen cells while manipulating the frames. It's ideally best to move the new split hive to a different location but it can be done in the same area. Having several rainy days after the split can be helpful in keeping the bees from migrating back to the parent hive.
--Put honey supers on when the black locust begin to bloom. The main flow typically occurs through July.

Iowa Honey Bee Day will be held March 14 (this Wednesday) from 7 to 9 am in conference room 116 at the Iowa State Capital. This is an opportunity to meet with Iowa legislators to discuss the importance of honey bees to Iowa.

Special note: Ed and Rita Porter of Central City, former members of ECIBA, have “retired” from beekeeping and are donating their beekeeping equipment to help new beekeepers get a good start. The equipment will be distributed to new members, including extracting equipment that will be shared. For more information, email Jim Davis (

Our club web presence is:

Please let me know if you no longer with to receive minutes. Thanks.
Jim Davis, Secretary

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Agenda for March 12th Meeting

Monday, March 12, 2018

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

Coralville Public Library, conference room A


Guest speakers:  Tim Willbanks (Kalona Honey Company) , Adam Ebert (Ebert Honey LLC)

--winter survival rates
--spring preparation
--ordering package bees
--general discussion

Dues for ECIBA are collected at the March meeting.  Dues are $5.00 per household.  If you do not attend, you can pay at a later meeting.

--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, 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.