The apiary at Etzel Sugar Grove Farm plays an important role in many different ways. First and foremost, it is a great resource for our Beginning Beekeeping series.
This 9-month long class introduces students to hobby beekeeping and guides them through an entire beekeeping season. Most students are absolute beginners and have never experienced maintaining a hive. Even though they are taking the class, they may not be ready to have hives of their own or their living situation doesn’t support having hives of their own. The apiary at Sugar Grove is there for these students to be involved in hive checks, honey extraction, and gives them hands-on beekeeping experience they would otherwise be missing out on. Students who do have their own hives may only have one or two. So our apiary serves as opportunities for extra practice in any area they may need, such as queen location and varroa mite treatments.
We have big plans for the Sugar Grove apiary in 2023. We are expanding! We will be adding nine new hives, bringing us up to 15 total. The students will also play a big role in this expansion and will assist in regular maintenance of the hives, making this expansion a smooth transition. Not only are we expanding, but our bees are being relocated. Instead of sitting near the farm house, the bees will be moved back into the permaculture field and will be dispersed throughout the tallgrass prairie buffer strip. This will give the bees better access to pollen and nectar without needing to travel a long distance. It will also ensure that our crops are pollinated every year.
While we are expanding, we aren’t expecting a large increase of honey for a year or so. We will need to purchase new supplies and it can take the bees a year or so to build up enough wax to reach their full potential. Don’t worry, our honey will still be available to purchase next year! You can buy our honey in 8 oz. jars, 12 oz. bears, or larger quantities in 1 lbs. or 5 lbs. jars sold in the Creekside Shop. We make honey lemonade that can be purchased every year at our Monarch Festival. We also partnered with LionBridge Brewing to create a golden ale brewed with honey from our apiary! This beer is brewed once a year in September and you can find this at many Hy-Vee stores in Cedar Rapids and it is sold in the Creekside Shop for a limited time.
If you’re interested in our Beginning Beekeeping series, you can find information about this class on our website. If you are already familiar with beekeeping and wish to purchase bees, registration for purchasing bees from us will be available in February.