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By KRISS NELSON jknelson@frontiernet.net DES MOINES — Mice, mites, beetles and moths are just the tip of the iceberg of dangers posed to a bee hive. Ruth Chalstrom took her family’s personal knowl- edge of keeping bees and the pests that affect their hive

By Staff | Aug 27, 2015

-Farm News photo by Kriss Nelson RUTH CHALSTROM, 16, of Moorland, gave an educational presentation on pests that affect bees at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 17.

jknelson@frontiernet.net

DES MOINES – Mice, mites, beetles and moths are just the tip of the iceberg of dangers posed to a bee hive.

Ruth Chalstrom took her family’s personal knowledge of keeping bees and the pests that affect their hives to the Iowa State Fair on Monday.

Chalstrom, a 16-year-old junior at Manson-Northwest Webster High School, and a member of the Sonrays 4-H Club, represented Webster County at the Iowa State Fair’s educational presentation competition.

Chalstrom used a PowerPoint slideshow to help her describe and explain four of the many pests that can affect bees and their hives. These include:

  • Mice, she said, can be detrimental to a bee hive because they prefer the constant 70- to 80-degree temperature inside a bee hive during winter and especially like the honey source.

Not only can mice bring in foreign materials to the bee hive, they have a tendency to eat the bees’ food source.

If bees are fortunate enough to kill the rodent, Chalstrom said they will cover it with a sticky substance and this will help stop any diseases from spreading.

  • Both the larvae and adults of the small hive beetle are another pest that keep apiarists vigilant.

Chalstrom said both the beetles cause damage by eating everything inside the hive and the spread of their fecal matter is detrimental.

  • The larvae of the wax moth, she said, can be dangerous to a bee hive in a short span of time.
  • Varroa mites, Chalstrom said, are a pest her family dealt with on their own bee farm.

“They can be devastating to the bee population and can be found on the back of the honey bees,” said Chalstrom. “They suck the blood of the bee, eventually killing it and they can sometimes kill entire colonies.”

Chalstrom said bees can’t get rid of these mites by themselves, but dusting the bees with powder sugars forces the bees to clean themselves, often ridding themselves of the mites.

Chalstrom earned a seal of excellence with a certificate of recognition for her educational presentation.

She first gave her presentation for her 4-H club, and then took it to the Webster County Fair where she earned her way to the Iowa State Fair.

She got the idea for her subject after researching how to control pests her family has been dealing with in managing five bee hives on their Moorland-area farm.

“We raise bees, and we had problems with varroa mites,” Chalstrom said, “and I had already been researching these pests for our own interest, so I thought it’d be interesting to speak about.”

4-H members give an educational presentation each year to their club.

Without that experience, Chalstrom said she wouldn’t be able to speak in front of groups like she did at the Webster County Fair and the Iowa State Fair.

“It’s very nerve-wracking,” she said. “I think it is really important to be able to speak.

“I used to be really scared and couldn’t speak even in front of my own club and now I am doing this. I have gone a long way of where I used to be.”

Kathy McCormick McCoy, a judge at the state fair, has been a 4-H volunteer and has judged events for 20 years.

She told 4-H’ers and audience members that public speaking is an important skill to have.

“It is a life skill that will help them out tremendously by being able to talk in front of an audience and feel comfortable doing it,” said McCoy.

Educational presentations, McCoy said, require a time commitment.

“Presentations are fun for kids to get up and do,” McCoy said, “but you need to have an introduction, a body and a conclusion.

“There are lots of things that go into an educational presentation.”

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