Current Newsletter
Archived Newsletters

Buzz Words - April 2007

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Follow-up on Colony Collapse Disorder
4. Dana Stahlman
5. Claire's Corner
6. Bees
7. Annual Meeting
8. Upcoming Meetings of Interest
9. Pollinator Plant Sale
10. Library
11. Seasonal Tip
12. Andy's Ramblings

Next Meeting
7:30 P.M., Tuesday, April 10th, at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149. David Simser, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Entomologist, will inform us about Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease.

Susan Vroom, Deb O’Connor and Rick Smithson have volunteered to bring the “goodies” this month.

Future Meetings
May 8th  – Roberta Clark, Cape Cod Extension Horticulturist, - Bees and the Garden

Annual Survey
» Barnstable County Beekeepers 2007 Survey (pdf)

From the President
The warm weather (50 degrees, maybe it was 55) mid-March allowed me to open the hives. Good news!!! The second hive was alive so now I have 2 of the 3 hives alive. The "deadout" one had lots of pollen and capped honey scattered throughout the 2 brood chambers. It doesn't look like they had a direct path to the top. Perhaps it was our warm weather that allowed them to roam around. I have no idea why they didn't cross the top of the second brood box and move up to the super above them that was 3/4 full of honey. They all died with their heads in the bottom of the cells in one corner looking for honey. However, now I have plenty of pollen and honey to give my remaining 2 hives. The hives looked strong for this time of the year. I took the opportunity to reverse the brood boxes and placed the girls back in the bottom so they can work their way back up again through the new honey source. There is a whole layer of fondant (just in case they need it) on top of all that honey. Since I'll be gone until April 20th, I'm hoping that will take care of them until I return. Then I'll look forward to experimenting with queen rearing with the club.

We have about 30 "newbee" members who completed our course. They are all waiting excitedly for their packages to arrive. If you see a new face at the meetings, please introduce yourself. I also want to thank everyone who helped with presenting the course. It also helps our "newbees" to have an opportunity to meet some of the club members. A special thanks to Claire for being there to open up at every meeting and taking the package and nuc orders, and Ed for handling the equipment orders. Two very time consuming tasks. Thank you both.

Wish me a safe passage from Ft. Lauderdale to Europe. We end in Rome on the 18th; by then some of you will have new bees. See you in May. -- Marte

back to top

Follow-up on Colony Collapse Disorder
At the SABA Seminar last weekend, Maryann Frazier, Senior Extension Agent at Penn State University, reported on some of the findings that researchers working on CCD bee and wax samples have come up with.

Eliminated as causes are: tracheal mites, High Fructose Corn Syrup and Protein Supplements, mite chemicals, as well as sources of bees and queens.

Items still being looked at as potential causes are: high virus levels & unknown pathogens, chemical contamination of wax, the nutritional fitness of adult bees, the stress levels of adult bees, and the genetic diversity (or lack of) in adult bees

Also under scrutiny are neonicotinoids and fungicides, which are widely used environmental contaminants

back to top

Dana Stahlman

In this article, we will discuss the various non-grafting methods of raising a few queens.

Many beekeepers have tried to make hive increases by splitting hives using existing swarm cells. They are using existing swarm cells to accomplish this. Queen cells produced by the swarm impulse are usually well fed and large. If the swarm cells are from good stock, the resulting queens should be fine. However, planning for raising queens using swarm cells depends entirely upon the swarm impulse, which occurs in the spring of the year in very strong colonies.

In order to be in control of when queens are produced, you need a method which will produce consistent results. You will need to create conditions within the hive so the bees will raise queen cells. If bees are deprived of their queen, they will begin building queen cells around an existing worker cell on the face of the comb. The bees do not build a queen cell base and then move a young larva to it. You could easily produce queen cells by simply moving some frames of bees with young larva and eggs into a nuc. The bees will build emergency queen cells – usually a number of them – and produce a queen. The problem with this method is that little control exists over the production of the queen produced if a number of queens are to be raised. Because the bees are not usually well fed the resulting queen cells are going to be underfed which results in poorer queens. If you have good queen stock and feed the nuc excessively, the queen raised in this nuc should be almost as good as one raised by the other methods I am going to discuss.

The Miller Method
This is a non-grafting method widely used. You will still need to create a number of nucs for the queens to be raised when the young queens are within several days of emerging from their cells. Step one: Identify the queen mother hive you are going to use.

Step two: Prepare a frame-- Place a frame of new foundation into the hive that has your queen source (This is your mother queen). This frame is just a regular frame nothing fancy. The comb is cut into "V's". The only thing I would suggest is to place the frame between two frames of brood. Usually foundation is used and it takes a few days for the bees to draw out the foundation and for the queen to begin laying in the comb. Once the queen has laid eggs in the new cells, you will need to prepare a cell-building hive.

Step three: The cell-building hive is prepared just like all other methods used. I prefer a queen less colony well supplied with sugar syrup, a large population of bees including young bees, and frames with some sealed brood and pollen. If the frames include young larva and eggs, you will need to remove all attempts by the bees to raise emergency queen cells. They will do this at the expense of raising queens from the larva and eggs you provide to them from your selected queen mother.

Step four: Remove the selected frame from the mother hive, shake all the bees from the frame (you could also brush them off), and cut saw tooth fashion into the comb to produce five or six “v” shaped pieces of comb with the young larva or eggs in them.

The bees will build queen cells along the edge of the comb rather than using cells on the face of the comb suck as the common emergency cell. In Miller's words, "For a little distance at the edge, the comb contains eggs only. This part is trimmed away, leaving the youngest of the brood at the edge of the comb. One reason for this is that, other things being equal, the bees show a decided preference for building on the edge of a comb. Another reason is that I decidedly prefer to have cells on the edge, thus making them easier to cut out when wanted."

The completed cells can then be cut from the comb and transferred into your nucs. The queens raised by this method will be as good as queens raised using the Doolittle’s method.

The queens at the junction of the V cuts will build usually three or four queen cells. These are then cut out and placed into the nucs. These cells are large much like the swarm cells you will see. The size and number of cells produced depend upon the number of bees in the cell builder and the amount of feed given to the bees. Of all non-grafting methods, this one is inexpensive because you have all the equipment needed and it almost always works.

We will follow up on this discussion next month with a description of the Jenter System and the Doolittle Method. By the time that article appears, you should have the opportunity to start raising some queens.

back to top

Claire's Corner
After listening to many descriptions of dead hives, and all the media hype on CCD, we decided to subject the members to a simple survey. It will only take a minute to circle and enumerate and mail, email or drop at the next meeting. Let’s see if there is a common denominator to our Cape losses.

For those members with textbooks from past bee schools, we have added a page on Small Hive Beetle as a new pest to deal with, but of minor consequence.

Fresh supplies of Honey B Healthy will be available at the April meeting. $20 for 16 oz.

At the SABA Seminar we picked up the following website, which may be useful to those of you who “do” lotions, potions and lip balms. .  Go to Program Areas, under Cosmetics, you will find labeling requirements for your products.

back to top

Please bear with us as we have 4 delivery dates this year. As this goes to print, dates are April 7th (veterans), April 21st (newbees and veterans), May 5th, and nucs in early May at a date as yet unknown.

Saturday, April 21st will be split into upper and lower cape – decided by the Yarmouth/Dennis Town Line.

West pickup will be at 186 Old County Rd, East Sandwich, after 1 P.M. Directions – Mid-Cape Hwy to Exit 4, north off the ramp for approximately ½ mile, to a left onto Old County Rd. 186 is the first driveway on the left. Befitting our love of bees a sign hangs above a large rhododendron proclaiming ROCKY BOTTOM, along with a carved honeybee.

The installation demo will be done at 1 PM. For those of you not familiar with our location, be advised that parking is limited. Please park on the street, along the neighbor’s fence, and between our drive and the Chase Rd intersection.

East pickup and demo will be at John Sennot’s bog in Harwich. Take Route 124 toward Harwich Center and turn left. Take a right onto Bank St (opposite Town Hall) to a left (just beyond the fork) onto Hoyt St. Bog and barn, and Andy, will be awaiting you there. (Bog can be seen from Bank St, I am told.

It is recommended you bring a veil if you are going to witness the installation demo.

back to top

Annual Meeting
April is B.C.B.A.’s Annual Meeting. That also means it is time to elect our leaders. Presented for you here are the nominees as presented by the Nominating Committee. If anyone wishes to be considered for one of these positions, please make such an announcement on meeting nite prior to the vote by the general membership.

Officers President - Marthe Ayers, Vice President - George Muhlebach Secretary – Claire Desilets, Treasurer – Paul Desilets

Directors Incumbents- Andy Morris, Carl Monge, Ed Osmun, Jan Rapp, Leslie Lichtenstein, Peter Cadieux and Richard Rys New nominees- John Beach, William Brown

back to top

Upcoming Meetings of Interest
Saturday, April 7th, Topsfield Fairgrounds, Topsfield, MA – Dr. Dewey Caron, Professor of Entomology, Univ of Delaware, speaking on the 2007 Bee Loss Epidemic and an IPM Approach to Mite Control; and Dr. Gordon Wardell, USDA ARS, Tucson, AZ, speaking on results of 260-hive study of supplemental bee feeds. For more info, contact Paul Desilets at or go to

Saturday, June 23rd, UMASS Agronomy Farm, South Deerfield, 9 AM to 3:30 PM., hosted by Franklin County Beekeepers Association and The Massachusetts Beekeepers’ Association. Workshops for beginning and experienced

back to top

Pollinator Plant Sale
Saturday May 19th 10 - 1 @ The Meeting House Farm. Annuals Perennials, Herbs, Vegetables

Please call Jan Rapp to schedule pick up or drop off if your available times do not coincide with the plant sale date and time. Any and all help and donations are welcome. It's usually a fun day so JOIN US. Any divisions and seed starts should be in the works.


back to top

We are desperate for videos for our 32 “newbees”. If you have a copy of “A Year in the life of an Apiary”, (big green, two-tape one), please return it to the next meeting, or mail it to us at P O Box 808, E Sandwich, 02537. There are still three copies out there that are way overdue.

back to top

Seasonal Tip
As the bees now have some consistently warmer weather, the sugar syrup routine can begin. 1:1 syrup will entice that queen to increase her brood production. Rotation of deeps can occur when we see those dandelions peeking up at us. Remember to scrape those bottom boards to remove all detritus so that nothing can hide nor grow. Combs older than three years should be exchanged for new undrawn foundation. 2007 is to bee the best!

back to top

Andy's Rambling
Thoughts on Increases

When I talk to people about bees, I tell them there are four castes of bees. I explain that the queen is the leader, emitting phenomenal instructions throughout the hive and laying the eggs that will ensure the hive’s survival. Next comes the worker, who leads the unquestioning and under-appreciated life of nurse, to guard, to forager. And then there is the Drone…nature’s original couch potato, lounging around, begging food, seemingly useless, until he performs his essential sacrificial deed.

I have just now mentioned three castes. You might ask what the fourth caste is. I present to the listener the concept that the fourth caste is the hive itself. Taken as a whole, the hive functions like a living being, completely capable of gathering food, creating a habitat and reproducing.

When conditions are right, a hive will swarm. Swarming is the right thing for a hive that is crowded either with numbers of bees or with copious amounts of honey and pollen. As beekeepers, we think of swarming as a bad thing, caused by mismanagement. But nature has coded the bees with this ability to swarm in order to increase the numbers of hives in an area, benefiting all that live there.

I recently had the opportunity to purchase some equipment from Jean Kennedy-Johnson who, after many years, had decided to give up beekeeping. While I was there, negotiating the terms of the purchase, two other beekeepers arrived to see what they also could buy. These beekeepers were Mary and Jackie, of whom I have written in the past. Both of these ladies started keeping bees only a year or so ago. They have met with some successes and some failures with their hives. Undaunted, they both bought some equipment. Mary bought two new hive set-ups (eight frame, copper topped units) into which she will be installing bees this spring.

New beekeepers are joining our club each year, and others of us keep increasing the hives we manage. Most of us started out like Mary and Jackie, with one or two hives. Now, how many do you have?

It seems swarming isn’t the only way nature increases the number of hives in an area.

back to top Last updated 03/07/07