Meeting notes for May 2023

Thank you to John (and mom) for hosting . We inspected 4 hives in one hour. Discussion included:

  • managing frames of brand new bare foundation — running a syrup feeder AND giving the queen a place to lay
  • queen cups
  • placement and removal of syrup feeders
  • State Fair entries for adults and kids
  • County Fair possibilities for adults and kids as they relate to beekeeping
  • time to wait for swarm queens to prove out
  • misplaced pollen
  • cleaning propolis and burr comb from frames
  • mite washes and sugar shakes
  • night of the week for meetings
  • hive for community, demonstration, and education
  • honey collections
  • foundations – standard, premier, acorn
  • record keeping


Thank you to Linda for hosting our first group swarm capture! It definitely took multiple people to grab from the apple tree — mentally and physically we used our creative brain power to work with what was available. We look forward to updates on its well-being.

We talked about the following:

If you have ideas for topics, use the Contact Form or speak up at the club’s Facebook group.

des moines backyard beekeepers swarm in tree
sizing up the situation
des moines backyard beekeepers swarm capture tree
swarm in linda’s apple tree, just in time for our meeting

meeting notes :: APRIL 2021

Thank you to the Kellys for hosting our first group hive inspection of the 2021 season. We were able to see all stages of development, from egg to queen cell! It was very educational and hopefully we’re helping each other set the stage for a successful season.

If you would like to have the club help inspect one of your hives for our next meeting, say so with the Contact Form. Here are my photos from the night – Julia

des moines bee club

News from our State Apiarist, Andy Joseph

Hello from indoors. As I write this, the Iowa Honey Bee Day event is planned for tomorrow morning at the Capitol. Forecast of -6oF for the morning, I believe the coldest of the year. Right now I just keep thinking, “I hope my truck starts”! It always does… I’m looking forward to seeing several of you there. It has been a good time these last couple years, and it creates a great presence of our beekeeping industry down among the legislators.

Tons of thanks to Jamie and all involved! It’s been neat to see the IHPA Facebook updates of cities across Iowa which have signed onto the proclamation in celebration of Honey Bee Day as well.

I still don’t have any great insight into how our bees are wintering across the state, but from what I’ve been hearing, things are going pretty well, overall, so far. Losses seem relatively few. Deadouts I’ve seen personally seem to be mite-related over anything else. These last couple winters have been fairly rough. We still have a ways to go but even if our loss numbers double over the next 6 weeks or so, I think we’ll still come out better than 2018 and 2019! …That observation is both encouraging and depressing depending on your perspective. It would be incredible to catch a decently early spring and open boxes of well-wintered bees all ramping up nicely.

Beginner bee courses are coming along nicely. The amount of new interest in beekeeping never ceases to amaze. Welcome to any new BEELINE readers! I’ve visited several classes here and there and have been impressed with the enthusiasm and interest in getting started off right. We have a lot of good course instructors dedicated to helping new beekeepers succeed. There sure is a passion (and obsession) in practicing beekeeping that goes beyond other industries and interests.

The CIBA winter meeting went really well – despite nature trying its hardest to squash the event. I was sad to miss Larry Connor. I always enjoy what he has to share, and I really like checking out everything new from Wicwas Press. His flight plans were nothing but delays and cancellations but at least his books made it to Iowa! 

Thank you to Dr. Wu-Smart and Sheldon Brummel for making the trip and presenting their work. The Great Plains Master Beekeepers program sounds excellent, and I’d certainly encourage anyone to check it out. Master Beekeeping Certification is all about becoming a proficient, successful beekeeper regardless of scale, becoming a leader in the local beekeeping community, and becoming a knowledgeable and confident instructor, speaker and media contact. This program seems like a really nice framework to develop these skills and talents. I’m excited to see it take off.

Here’s to a great Iowa Honey Bee Day and an early Spring!

February Meeting Notes: Assistive Technologies

EasterSeals serves the entire state of Iowa. Two programs in particular may be helpful to beekeepers who need accommodations — whether by accident, injury, aging, or disability; or lives in a community with less than 2,500 people — the Assistive Technology (AT) Program and Rural Solutions.

Assistive Technology Program consists of four components.

  1. Equipment Loan. Durable medical equipment donations are refurbished and loaned to “fill the gaps” from insurance. Application at Donations and appointments can also be made by calling 515-309-2395 or sending email (click for email address).
  2. Demonstration Center @ Camp Sunnyside. For clients to see, feel, try things before an assistive technology is brought home. By appointment. Call 866-866-8782 or send email (click).
  3. Lending Library. Trials on most items in the library help people make appropriate choices. Over 1000 items are available and free to use. Clients may try up to five items at a time for up to 30 days. Call 866-866-8782 or send email (click).
  4. Iowa Assistive Technology Exchange. Classified ads, styled like Craig’s List, exclusively for AT. Staff will assist and qualify users and donors. View items at

Rural Solutions. This program consists of free site visits by a consultant (Kim) with ideas for accommodations, assessments, connections to resources, sustainable business planning, mental health that is customized to your particular situation. Additionally, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society will fully funded appropriate clients by referral only.

AT Equipment demos

  • Weightlifting hooks weightlifting hook
  • Football gloves
  • Dycem super grip surface
  • Active hands cuffKim demostrates an active hands cuff
  • Fanny pack, running industry has cell phone pockets
  • Hand holds: Foam grippers for writing utensils, Crayola model magic, elastomer putty (more durable than model magic)
  • Foam cuff
    • Velcro strap
    • D-ring
    • Foam
    • Duct tape
    • Industrial twist tie
  • Industrial twist ties in different colors can assist with visibility
  • Temperature sensitive nail polish
  • Urban Poles: aging resources/walking with ease
  • Hiking poles for farm vs. canes for house
  • Sugru, moldable glue to insulate canister of smoker
  • Electric smoker:

General Assembly 88

Beekeepers might find the following pesticide activity interesting, so I’ll share a couple things that I learned yesterday at the Statehouse. This week is funnel week, so subcommittees, and then committees, must approve bills in order for them to stay alive in their respective chambers. Today I’ll address SF601, SF2211, and HF2271.

Senate File 601 (SF601) addresses the Pesticide Bureau operation by establishing and funding administration and enforcement. A very common complaint from producers is the long response time when a drift incident is reported. Investigations can take longer than a growing season to close. This puts commercial operations in a bind for income. On top of that, the number of drift incident reports has tripled with increased use of dicamba (from 88 to 270), extending the response time even more. Lastly, specialty crop producers are further stung by the lack of crop insurance. While legislators can’t fix the insurance issue, they recognize that one way to shorten the Bureau’s lag time is by employing more investigators.

Figure 1 From DALS . Click to enlarge.

Currently, the fees from pesticide dealers, applicator certifications (such as licenses and renewals), fines, etc. are taken in by the Pesticide Bureau and a large portion of those moneys are put into the State’s general fund. This bill would change that — the Bureau would get the fees and keep most of the moneys; the general fund would still receive a portion, but it would be much smaller. The Bureau, which has frequently cited an underfunding issue, would have a sustainable funding source with annual renewals.

Two other pesticide bills began in a joint subcommittee, which is made of members of both House and Senate (joint). Once these bills pass out of subcommittee, members introduced the bill to their respective chamber’s committee. On the Senate side, SF2211 is a bill that creates electronic incident case management. Currently, reporting must be done by phone during Bureau business hours.

[If I could make a fancy sidebar graphic, it would read like this: The DALS Pesticide Bureau webpage mentions that reports can be sent via email, but on its print material, email is not listed as an option. See webpage and print brochure.]

Pesticide applicators who follow the Bee Rule are operating between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., which is outside of Bureau office hours, making phone call reporting very problematic. It just adds to the length of an already long response time. (Look for Section 31 with this link for Bee Rule language: bee rule or jump to the document here:

By modernizing Bureau operations (using the internet), the Bureau would have a paper trail (a long-time gripe with producers asking for investigation case management records) and transparency would be achieved as the public could access past investigations via the internet (24/7) and see recordkeeping details that would keep the Bureau, applicators, and the drift incident reporters accountable.

Its companion bill on the House side is HF2177. The Government Oversight Committee chair, Mary Hanusa, has not brought the bill into consideration. This committee’s bills are not subject to the funnel. A lobbyist told me something along the lines of, “When one chamber unanimously passes a bill and sends it to the other chamber (Iowa is a bicameral state), it gets people’s attention.” That is the situation for HF2177/SF2211, so I’m staying tuned.

The text for SF601 is here:

The text for SF2211 is here:

The text for HF2177 is here:

Honey Cookie RecipE

Icebox Honey Cookies

Remember the honey cookies at CIBA’s Winter Seminar 2017? It came from Taste of Home magazine. The original can be found here, which I have copied below.

Icebox Honey Cookies

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. + chilling Bake: 15 min./batch 

YIELD: 8 dozen.


  • 1-1/2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • 1. In a large bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in honey and extract. Combine remaining ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
  • 2. Shape into two 12-in. rolls; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
  • 3. Preheat oven to 325°. Unwrap and cut into 1/4-in. slices. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

© 2020 RDA Enthusiast Brands, LLC

Quarterly Update from Andy

Hello fellow bee people.

Quick cold fall, but a nicer, sunny day as I’m writing this.  We never really got our indian summer did we?  Lots of syrup feeding this fall for many of us.  And pollen sub sure does help keep queens laying.

Mite treatment was a little sketchy this season.  Many beekeepers treated their hives this fall using trusted products and good timing, but still had trouble making the mites die.  It didn’t seem to be a resistance issue to any one particular product.  Beekeepers who re-checked mite counts following treatment could at least give another dose or try again using a different product.  And often these secondary treatments were more effective.  Of course earlier is always better than later for killing mites, so we’ll all see how well wintering goes.

Nearly all the bees headed out of state have been moved to their warmer locations.  More and more smaller-scale beekeepers are participating in the almond pollination gold rush each year.  I saw a lot of great looking, strong hives in these “Exit checks”, I also saw a lot of still-struggling hives.  Many hives just wanted to shrink.  I had troubles with this in my own bees, more than I’ve ever experienced.   A hive might look a little small and get put together with another, then a visit the following week might find it again to be on the small side, so another would be combined…  If you had to deal with this dwindling, I hope your numbers have stabilized and your bees are beginning winter with both strength and weight.

It won’t be long til it will be a good idea to get out on that special sunny mid-40s degree day and pop some covers and heft some boxes.  See if the bees have moved up to the top boxes.  See if the boxes are still heavy or if they’ve burned through food stores.  I believe these winter checks have become more important in recent years.  If bees are upstairs and they’ve eaten quite a bit, you can always add more food.  Feed “winter patties” or dry sugar or fondant or candy boards … just be sure they have access to good empty calories.  With the cost of bees as high as it is, saving even just a hive or two from starvation will likely cover your cost of this emergency winter feeding.

Winter is also prime time to fix up that aging empty equipment. Spring comes fast.  My boxes are as ratty as any of the worst of yours, so this is mostly a note to self.  What I really should do is create a hive body burn pile and buy new … instead what I hope to do is scrape and paint anything solid enough to withstand another few seasons of handling.  Frames can be scraped.  Greasy old black combs melted down or discarded. These winter chores are so easy to procrastinate, but it really is rewarding to get good and cold now and then.

Enjoy the winter. Come on springtime.  See you all soon.


supporting honey bees and beekeepers in the metro Des Moines, Iowa, area