Buzz Words - September 2013
The club’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the West Barnstable Community Building, with a focus on seasonal problems (NOTE: see 2013 BCBA SURVEY section above) and winter preparations.
Tentative topics for fall sessions: cooking with honey (October) and top-bar beekeeping (November).
REMINDER: CHECK THE HEFT OF YOUR HIVES Ö IF LIGHT, FEED!
From the President
This has been a good summer for this locavore. A few stripers found their way into my boat, the potatoes were ready for digging in early July and, as I write, the beans, cukes and squash are coming fast and furious. And to top it all off, I pulled two supers of honey off one of my hives and have been selling it from a little stand in front of the house. For a time in the summer you can live and eat real local.
This particular hive, the one that produced this honey, has a story behind it. It began as a swarm in June 2012. As we know, a swarm in June has a reasonable chance to get its legs under it before the season closes down in the fall. However, this one didn’t, at least that’s what I thought. The brood was scarce all summer and little stores were in the second deep come last fall. When I put the mouse guard on in the fall and left some fondant under the inner cover, it felt a bit gratuitous as the hive showed no inclination that it would survive the winter. However, as I monitored its progress over the winter it continued to consume the fondant that I doled out although what bees there were seemed quite sluggish this spring. However, by May 1 the activity level increased markedly and a peek into the hive around Memorial Day revealed, to my surprise, an already full honey super. This was surprising as in the past my hives generally have not collected much nectar until the locust bloom in June. A second super filled quickly with the locust blossom and we celebrated the fourth of July with a honey harvest!
Having fished Cape Cod Bay for many years I can reasonably predict where and when I might stumble across a striper. I am also reasonably sure each year that I will be digging new potatoes by the 4th and wallowing in summer squash by the end of the month. Each has a rhythm or pattern that I recognize. But bees, if they have a rhythm or pattern, it’s often lost on me. Sometimes I think I should be more of a scientist in my approach to bees and try to uncover and predict more of the bees’ rhythm and patterns. But often I’m content providing them a hospitable hive, a yard filled with forage, and an understanding that we’re both living and eating real local.
Check Out Club Member Blogs
Julie Lipkin @ http://blogs.capecodonline.com/cape-cod-beekeeping
Tamar Haspel @ www.starvingofftheland.com
BCBA discussion group - Barnstablefirstname.lastname@example.org
2013 Barnstable County Fair
The fair has come and gone for another year and 69 of our wonderful members staffed the honey house this year, some on more than one day. We even had five couples and one mother/daughter team who came to work together! For the eight days we need 72 people to cover a minimum of three people for each of the three daily shifts, so everything worked out well. The shifts are only three hours long and a wonderful way to not only meet new people and introduce them to bees and beekeeping, but a chance to get to know the other members of the club you are working with better! I encourage more members to volunteer next year & see how much fun it can be. Where else can you share your day with nice people, bees and a camel!
Sept. 28-29, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
So here we are again, another fair, another chance to sell your harvested honey at the same price as at the Barnstable County Fair. I understand we were very, very low on honey. Hopefully some people have been able to extract honey since then. Also we should have other products to sell, the same as the other fair. Claire will have her observation hive there again. There will be people selling garden products at this fair, pretty much the same as any farmers market.
If you were on the previous fair's “waiting list,” now is your chance to help.
We need two or three people per shift. One morning shift from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the afternoon, 1 to 4 p.m. There are no parking and admission tickets. It's free entry.
There will be a sign-up sheet at the September meeting, and you me also email me your choice of shift and day (email@example.com). (I'll be away from Sept. 4-10, so replies will be after that date.) Thanks for your help once again with a club activity.
Getting our Bee Houses in Order
Around every third week of the month, I always look forward to a new edition of Bee Culture’s arrival in my mailbox. This month's Bee Culture focused on getting our colonies ready for fall/winter with having the basics covered: a final inspection coming soon to ensure a queen right colony, ample food stores (minimum 60 lbs.), having the colony be disease free, and have mouse guards in place before the mice get trapped inside the colony with mouse guards on! The various articles discussed “natural” vs. alternative methods of intervening upon the colony with the goal to reducing the number of colony deaths to a more acceptable number. Many compared caring for our colonies in the same way we would for a farm animal, domestic pet or ourselves when in need: when hungry we feed; when sick we look to medical experts, and when chilly, we add a scarf. Having lost all of my colonies except 2 last winter, I’ve decided to intervene more and use several methods at reducing my own winter colony loss to stop the vicious cycle of the need to purchase Southern bees next spring. I'm going into this fall identifying which colonies (weaker) will be combined with stronger ones; which colonies will require sugar feeding, and finally which colonies may require varroa treatment. I’ve concluded that the reason for my own devastating colony loss last year was a combination of mite infestation that led to distressed bee health coupled with the long extended wet cold that had a hint of starvation in the mix. I always make sure that my colonies are well fed and even add fondant when possible, but the long, wet, windy cold made it almost unbearable for some of my girls to hang in there. Hence, my thought to move several this late fall to a more protected location to over winter. This summer was not the summer for much honey harvest in my fields, but rather for raising bees. Having come out of winter with 2 hives, I bought 6 packages in April, bought one nuc that was queenless, purchased another 6 fancy queens in June and had 3 swarms land in my stored equipment. I am now at 17 colonies. I will likely drop down to 14 going into winter. Although I’m sad about only having honey for my household for the winter, the saving grace is knowing that all the splitting I did this summer could pay off in 2014 if I play my cards right preparing the colonies this fall. I’m hearing it’s going to be another cold winter, so I’m going to use everything I can in my tool arsenal to have better numbers coming out in the spring of 2014. Plenty of food, decreased mite infestation, and a cozier environment.
Wondering if you’re the only one who got a crummy package this spring? Think your harvest this year was unusually bountiful? Help us put all of this in perspective by taking a BRIEF online survey to get a handle on how club members did this season. (Really: It’s only nine questions and shouldn’t take more than five minutes.) For the good of the bees, please go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BZ77F8Z, fill in the little blanks and hit send. That’s all it takes.
As most of you know, our beloved longtime treasurer, Paul Desilets, lost his battle with cancer on Aug. 2. The board of directors voted at its August meeting to donate $500 to the Wounded Warrior Project, which was his familyís chosen memorial fund. But many people have asked about how they can honor Paulís many years of service to the association, so our president has agreed to coordinate a memorial fund to be donated to the Eastern Apiculture Society in Paulís memory for honeybee research. Those wishing to contribute to this fund may send checks made out to BCBA with Paul Remembrance on the memo line to: John Beach, Box 524, Yarmouth Port, MA 02675. He will send acknowledgments, deposit the money in the BCBA account, and send Clare a list of contributors. Alternatively, those who prefer to honor the familyís request may contribute to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675.
Did You Know
Honey lasts forever: We’ve all heard the stories about honey pots discovered in thousand-year-old Egyptian tombs. But did you ever wonder why? Smithsonian.com explores the science behind honey’s eternal shelf life. Check it out here:
Honey Recipe of the Month
Honey balsamic salmon fillets*
4 (7-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
1 tsp superfine sugar
1 Tbsp peanut oil
4 scallions, sliced, for garnish
Wipe salmon dry with a paper towel and place in a shallow dish, skin side down. Whisk the honey with the vinegar and superfine sugar and spoon over fish. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the fish, skin side down, and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until the skin is crisp and the salmon is nearly cooked through. Preheat the broiler to high. Spoon any remaining honey mixture over the salmon and place the pan under the broiler for 2 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Garnish with scallions and serve.
* Recipe reprinted from “The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses”