Iowa Honey Queen visits Jones County

Carly Raye Vannoy, the 2016 Iowa Honey Queen, spoke at a program at the Nature Center on June 16. Vannoy lives in Urbandale and travels the state promoting honey products and educating people on honeybees. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Little unknown fact: Every year, Iowa crowns a Honey Queen.

     2017 Iowa Honey Queen Carly Raye Vannoy of Urbandale visited Jones County as part of her 99-county tour. She spoke at a program hosted by Jones County Conservation at the Nature Center at Central Park on June 16.

     Yes, just like many of our legislators, Vannoy set a goal for herself to speak in all 99 Iowa counties before her reign ends in November.

     At 17 years old, Vannoy was crowned in November 2016.

     She’s spent three years raising honeybees on private property in West Des Moines, due to the fact that Urbandale does not allow livestock to be raised in city limits. Yes, honeybees are considered livestock in Urbandale.

     Vannoy, who’s been homeschooled all her life, got interested in honeybees thanks to the Youth Scholarship Program in Iowa. She’ll be a senior this fall.

     “They helped me secure my first hive, the equipment I needed and the bees themselves,” she said of the opportunity.

     From there, Vannoy took some classes about raising honeybees and was mentored in the process as well.

     Before becoming Iowa Honey Queen, Vannoy was part of the Friendly Beekeepers of Iowa, a club literally for beekeepers out of Carlisle, Iowa. Vannoy was named queen of her club and started pursuing the state title earlier last year.

     Now, she has ambitions to run for the national title, American Honey Queen, in January.

     Vannoy has visited almost half of the counties in Iowa; she’s led more than 200 programs on honey and beekeeping.

     “I just help educate people about honeybees and the various uses of honey,” she explained.

     For instance, honey can be used for medical purposes, not just for use in the kitchen. Vannoy explained honey could be used as an anti-inflammatory or antibacterial.

     Honey is also used for such products as lotions and lip balms.

     “Honey has an indefinite shelf-life,” she said, “if it’s stored properly. Bacteria doesn’t survive in honey due to the sugar and water ratio.”

     She offered a bit of advice for those who might find themselves in a serious situation where they’re surrounded by bees… Keep sugar water on you and spray the bees with sugar water.

     “It weighs the bees down so they don’t bother you,” she said of the mixture.

     However, Vannoy said most honeybees don’t bother people unless provoked.

     “They’re typically out to find food, not to sting you,” she said. “If you leave them alone, you’ll have no problem.”

     She said stories from the southern United States about killer bees have been so dramatized that people assume bees of any species are terrible.

     “They’re not aggressive beings,” she said.

     In fact, most killer bees from the South cannot survive Iowa’s winters; that’s why you don’t see them in the Midwest.

     “We have gentle breeds here,” she said.

     Since getting her first hive several years ago, Vannoy has now expanded to three hives and three times as many honeybees.

     For more on the Iowa Honey Queen Program, visit


Subscriber Login