Thursday, May 2, 2013

The making of a bee keeper

Last fall, my son Nicholas told me about a bee hive that was being kept on his school's property by science teacher, Mr. Tom Becker. Nick had the opportunity to "help" Mr. Becker with the hive on a couple of occasions. Mr. Becker saw that Nick had a real interest in the bees and told him that he should apply for a youth scholarship being offered by the Iowa Honey Producers Association (IHPA). The IHPA realized that membership numbers had been dropping for some time and that they needed to do something to get more young people involved in bee keeping. So, they started the youth partnership program.

Nick filled out the application to participate in the program. He put it in the mail and we waited to hear if he would be accepted. It wasn't long before we were invited to attend the annual meeting of the IHPA in Marshalltown. It was there that we learned that Nick and 11 other youth from across the state of Iowa had been accepted into the program!

Nick received a hive body, bees, all necessary equipment (smoker, hive tool, veil and gloves), 1 year membership to the Iowa Honey Producers Association, beginning bee classes and was assigned a mentor to guide him through his first year of bee keeping! In return, Nick agrees to attend bee classes, keep a written record of his bee keeping adventure and present a final report at the IHPA annual meeting.

I think that one of the most important parts of the program is the mentor. Nick's mentor is David Hayes, of Prairie Creek Honey. David has graciously offered to help guide Nick through his first year of bee keeping. Being a beginning bee keeper can be a little intimidating. Having someone to guide you along the way and answer a beginner's questions is a great thing to have. I have to admit that all this has been just as exciting for me as it is for Nick. I have been attending the bee classes with him and am learning as much as he is. So far, it has been a lot of fun and I think this could develop into a lifelong hobby for both of us.

 The bees arrived this past Tuesday afternoon and with Mr. Hayes help, are now home in their new hives. Let the bee keeping adventure begin!

Nick opening the package of bees with mentor David Hayes guidance.

Putting the bees into the hive body.
Nick showing off his new queen bee.

Closeup of the queen.


  1. What a great program for the kids. I would like to see more states and places do this, the honey bee is so important in agriculture and needs more people getting involved.

  2. Yes, it is a great program for kids. The only issue I can see is that not many people are aware of its existence. I hope that by posting this on the blog, the word will be spread a little and more youth will be able to take advantage of this and get started in bee keeping.