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Buzz Words - Apri1, 2005

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. President's Message
3. Bees
4. Bee School
5. Survey
6. Notes
7. Claire's Corner
8. Gardner's Gab
9. Pollinator Plant Sale
10. New Book
11. Salve for Insect Bites, Bee Stings, Minor Wounds
12. Trivia
13. Honey - Part 1

Next Meeting: Tuesday, April 12th, 7:30 P.M. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149. - Our speaker this evening will be Kenneth Warchol, an experienced beekeeper from the Worcester County Beekeepers. He is the author of several articles in both American Bee Journal and Bee Culture. Ken is a 28-year veteran seasonal bee inspector with the Department of Agricultural Resources and will help us recognize problems in our hives hopefully before they become devastating, in his talk, titled “Abnormalities in the Hive”.

This night is also our Annual Meeting. So before Ken begins his presentation, we will have a few brief announcements, and an election of officers. Up for re-election, are Peter Cadieux (President), Marthe Ayers (Vice-President), and Claire Desilets (Secretary). Paul Desilets wishes to step down as Treasurer, and Sandra Wilkins has come forward for that position. Nominations from the floor will be accepted for any of these positions.

President's Message
Spring is here! I’m sure of it – the weatherman told me. Most of the white stuff is gone and the precip falling from the sky is liquid. All this means that your bees are probably really hungry. Start cooking up the sugar syrup and FEED THOSE BEES.

By now some of you may have heard, but the majority of you have probably not heard, that Paul Desilets is retiring from his position as Treasurer of BCBA. You don’t need me to tell you that without all the hard work and long hours that Paul & Claire put into BCBA there would not be an association that is as vibrant and healthy as ours is today. Paul will continue to edit and produce the newsletter (arguably the best in the state). On behalf of all the membership of BCBA I would like to extend to Paul a sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU!!!!

Please try to make the April meeting to elect your new officers and board of directors.
Again – Thank you Paul!

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The Packaged Bees will be available for distribution on Saturday, April 16th . There are two pick up sites. For those of you east of the Dennis-Yarmouth Town Line, be at the Harwich Public Gardens at 10:30 A.M. to receive your packages from Ed Osmun. Members Steve Binder and Russ Caron will do an installation demonstration at that location at 11:00. Directions – From Route 28 in Harwich, take the North Rt. 39-124 road (across from Cape Water Sports) past the Shaw’s Market. At approximately ¼ mile from Rt. 28, take a LEFT onto dirt road of Harwich Gardens, go to the end and bear left.

For those of you to the West of this line, the pick up point is 186 Old County Rd., East Sandwich at 10:00 A.M. Claire will do an installation demo at 10:30. Directions - Mid-Cape Hwy to Exit 4, north off the ramp for approximately ½ mile to a left onto Old County Road. 186 is the first driveway on the left. Befitting our love of bees, a sign hangs above a large rhododendron, proclaiming ROCKY BOTTUM along with a carved bee. The parking area cannot accommodate all, but there is some off street parking along the neighbor’s fence. For those not requiring the installation demo, you may come earlier to pick up.

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Bee School
Bee School has not yet ended. The next two sessions will be held in conjunction with the monthly
meeting. And, last but not least, a hive opening is scheduled for Sunday, May 15 th . This last is most important so that you may identify and understand what you are seeing in your hive.

The Dept of Agricultural Economics at Louisiana State Univ., in cooperation with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, is conducting an on-line survey of beekeepers’ options for controlling varroa and tracheal mites. The survey will help determine how much damage has been caused by mites, how beekeepers are coping with the mites, and the economic value to beekeepers of the new lines of bees for controlling mites. Please go to the following address to complete the survey:

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Ed tells us that the smokers have arrived. They will be handed out when you pick up your package bees. They SHOULD NOT BE USED on new packages until the queen has been accepted, is well-adjusted and laying.

A new shipment of Honey Bee Healthy has arrived. It is now available in a more economical 16 ounce size. Claire will have some at the April meeting if you need to purchase some.

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Claire's Corner
Gosh, 50 degrees., crocus in bloom, snowdrops heavy with blossom, daffodils pushing through, pussy willow popping out, and little green shoots visible from the chive bed – are we really finished with winter? What a great sound to hear the birds singing as we walk Old County Road at 5 a.m.!

Aren’t you just itching to open a hive and pull a frame? The queen has been laying for many days now thus the stores are quickly dwindling. Start mixing up that 1:1 sugar syrup and feed. There will be sufficient flying days so the girls can expel that excess liquid.

Our cue to rotate hive bodies usually comes with the first sign of the dandelion blossom (?April 15 th ?) Check the cluster first – if between both deeps, do not rotate and split the cluster. ‘Tis the perfect time to clean and scrape the bottom board, cull out those old frames (2-3 each year) and check the queen’s laying pattern.

Check your notes, how old is your queen? Most texts preach it is better to re-queen in the fall to prevent swarming and to provide a bountiful crop. Spring re-queening is much easier because there are fewer numbers to search in order to find the “ole girl”. We do a little of each and actually have fewer failures in the spring. This may be due to more nectar being available, the availability of sugar syrup and more young bees arriving daily.

If we are blessed with a beautiful spring, many over-wintered hives will swarm. This is really unfortunate. You have created a nuisance in the neighborhood and lost your honey crop for the season. It is just so simple to pull a few frames of brood and bees and establish a new hive (in $10 nuc box), bolster a weak hive or sell a frame or two to a club member. A little intervention will prevent a whole raft of avoidable situations.

It is with much enthusiasm we report that the club has been approached by a Massachusetts foundation and offered a grant for beekeeping education. If we qualify, the direction we might take will be towards a queen-rearing project. The need is now for locally-raised, winter-hardy, mite-resistant, surviving queens. Stay tuned.

Continuing from the March newsletter, the lab results from Beltsville returned within a week. The good news is the bees were free of trachea mites. But, one sample of bees (100 approx.) were infested with 26 varroa mites and Nosema. The other sample had only 3 mites with no other maladies. Not very conclusive results. Interesting to note the amount of dark droppings on the recent good flying days. Was the winter too long and wet? Will the winter Fumagillin feeding be effective?

Gardener's Gab

Mid February, time to start the first round of seedlings. Already have orders in from my favorite catalogs Pine Tree Garden (almost half the price of the others and just as reliable) Parks and Johnny's and have seeds from my own plants carefully stored away. Got gathered many six packs, trays and a large bag of seed starter mix. An indelible marker and old plastic containers cut into strips to serve as tags.

I have forgotten what it is exactly I have ordered so the surprise adds to the delight of opening up the seed order. Everything gets sorted by sowing date and whether the seed will be sown directly outside or started inside. Seeds which take the longest to germinate and need the most lead time are given priority. The soil is put into the six packs or in larger trays, pressed and wet down before seeds are planted. I usually try to plant three or four seeds per cell (more, if teeny; less, if larger). Additional soil is sifted over the top of the seeds for those that do not require light to germinate. Water down carefully so as not to disturb the newly planted seed. Tags are put into place immediately lest one gets ahead of oneself and forgets which is what.

Set your six-packs onto a newspaper covered tray, find an old clear plastic bag and put it loosely over moisture are the most important factors during the germination stage. Now it's time to watch and wait. Some seeds will germinate practically overnight, others can take two weeks. Let fresh air circulate a couple of times a day to keep the seeds from damping off (when mold grows and kills the seedling starts). Shortly after the seedlings appear they are ready to be moved into more direct light (this is when those six packs make sense as they are small and easy to reposition).

Once the seedlings have at least one set of true leaves you can consider transplanting them. Either use larger six packs and plant one per cell or a larger pot if you intend to take them to plant sales, plant swaps or give to friends and family. It is still important not to let the fragile seedlings dry out so keep the containers that hold the seedlings on a tray and water from the bottom. Plastic egg container tops are a perfect shape to fit on windowsills, they hold four to five small pots and again allow for bottom watering. I always get such a kick out of this prolonged gives me a renewed respect for patience and brings on the spring rush. Let alone appealing to my sense of thrift. From one packet of seeds upwards of 100 plants may be born. Some plants are perennials which can go on producing for many years. Some are vegetables which help to keep my family fed. Many are flowers which attract bees and are useful to brighten the house as well.

On Cape Cod May 15th is the generally accepted last frost date and many plants take six weeks to mature enough for transplanting outside. Therefore, it makes sense to start another planting round at the end of March beginning of April. Plants from the first sowing are hardier and some may even be able to go outside into a cold frame, making room for the new upstarts.

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Pollinator Plant Sale
Now, when May 21st rolls around the Beekeepers Club needs you to roll around with all the seedlings you can muster for a morning of selling and swapping your nurtured crops. The Plant Sale date is a little earlier this year so be sure to make a note of it.

As in years past we will hold the sale at the West Barnstable Community Center. (This is subject to change so keep posted!) There will be only one manned drop-off time starting a 7:00 AM on the Sale date of May 21. The sale will start at 9:00 for the general public; anytime before for bee club members.

If you need to drop off any other time call Jan Rapp at (508) 428-6960. If you would like to volunteer your help we NEED you, sign up on the sheet circulated at the April and May meetings, call Jan or just come.

If you have honey products to sell bring those along too and set up a display (club gets its usual percentage).

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New Book
Have received publicity about a new book about the humble honey bee titled: Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation, written by Tammy Horn, an instructor at Berea College, who learned beekeeping from her grandfather, who grew up hunting bee trees in eastern Kentucky. Available from the University Press of Kentucky, contact Leila Salisbury, Marketing Director at (859) 257-8442

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Salve for Insect Bites, Bee Stings, Minor Wounds
contributed by Louie Kerr, taken from Suzanne Donovan

Use this salve to soothe itching caused by insect bites and rashes, and to aid healing of minor skin irritations. Neem oil, known for reducing pain and swelling, also aids in drawing out the venom. Essential oils have natural antiseptic properties and reduce swelling.

Ingredients (weighed) 4 ounces of olive butter, 2 ounces neem seed oil, ½ ounce beeswax, 1 ounce petroleum jelly, ½ ounce lavender essential oil, ½ ounce eucalyptus essential oil

In a small pan, over very low heat, melt the olive butter, beeswax, and petroleum jelly until liquefied. Remove from heat, add neem oil and stir. Let set for 2 minutes. Add essential oils, stirring as you incorporate them . Pour into clean jars or tins.

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Received the New England Agricultural Statistics today, from the USDA. According to the figures they received from folks like you and me, New England produced 1,016,000 lbs of honey from 20,800 hives, for an average of 49 lbs per hive. Now, I know that there are more than 21,000 hives in all of New England, so we have to take the production figures with tongue in cheek. Perhaps more of us will answer the surveys when next we receive one and push the production figures way up there.

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Honey, Part I
contributed by Pam Latimer, D.C.

An Example of Food Affecting Chemistry
By G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN

Honey has a long history in folk medicine of treating many disorders. It was even mentioned in the Holy Quran that a drink from bees' bodies is healing for men.

When I was in chiropractic school in the mid-1980s, my nutrition teacher said that honey was a better sweetener than sugar. Over the years, many of the more conservative nutrition publications I take have stated that there is little difference between honey and sugar, and that the notion of honey as a healthier alternative to sugar is an unsubstantiated wives' tale. Therefore, when a paper by Norri S. Al-Waili, MD, PhD (one of the world's premier honey researchers) on how honey affects the blood came across my desk, I was quite interested.

The Study
Ten volunteers, who were medical staff members (doctors, lawyers, and technicians) from the medical center where the author works, volunteered for the one-month study. For two weeks, they followed a tightly controlled diet, had a blood test, and then continued the diet for two more weeks with the addition of 1.2 gm/kg body weight of local unprocessed honey, which was dissolved in 250 ml of water.

For those not metrically inclined, myself included, this translates as follows: A 70 kg person = 154 pounds. At a 1.2 gm/kg body-weight dose, this equates to 84 gm a day of honey, which on the surface seems like a tremendous amount. However, one tablespoon of honey contains 21 grams; therefore, the total amount of honey supplemented would be 4 tablespoons for a 154 pound person. This provides 240 calories, which for my nonmetrically inclined mind, is much less than I would have guessed.

This article originally caught my eye because my knee-jerk reaction to 1.2 gm/kg body weight of honey in a normal individual was that the amount ingested was tremendous. This study only included 10 people. Therefore, it should be interpreted with the knowledge that there is an excellent chance that a greater sample size would change the results. For example, in the abstract, the author states that beta-carotene levels increased by 3 percent. In fact, most factors showed minute changes that would be notable in a larger trial. But with only 10 subjects, I disregarded small changes in zinc, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron binding capacity, glutathione, red blood cells, white blood cells, packed cell volume, neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils, monocytes, and hemoglobin. However, that still left some very significant changes apparently caused by two weeks of consuming 4 tablespoons of honey daily.

Whether or not honey affects most people this way needs to be verified with a study containing more subjects. Having said that, this is a great example that food can act as a biological modifier. In the case of honey, due to its high sugar content, I would never have guessed that (even in a small study) it would have this much effect on various factors. I feel it can be safely extrapolated that other foods we consume can cause measurable changes as well. For example, how would two weeks of donuts and French fries, apples and oranges, or a quart of soda affect one's blood chemistry? I think in the next 20 years, we will see more research on how various foods affect various people.

For more on this article, go to:

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