Current Newsletter
Archived Newsletters

Buzz Words - April 2011


Tuesday, April 12th,  7:30 p.m., West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable.   Member Bruce Gordon, MD will speak to us about Stinging Insect Allergy-What you need to know.  Objectives:  Review demographics of sting reactions, Recognize responsible insects, Understand general risk factors and special precautions for beekeepers, Understand basic treatment of stings, Understand when to immunize, how effective immunotherapy is, and when to stop immunotherapy.  This talk fills in all of the background information you will need to (hopefully) avoid serious problems, and if not, what to do to fix things when they happen.

Juice/ Cider -- Volunteers needed.
Nibbles -- Volunteers needed.

From The President
Pollinator Plant Sale at the Meetinghouse Farms, May 14th from 9:00-12:00

There’s dirt on the floor behind the woodstove, there’s dirt on every shelf that commands more than an iota of sun, there’s dirt on the kitchen counter and there’s dirt under my fingernails. There are one day olds, week olds and month olds all needing attention. There are adversities and pests to fight. There is the proof of the Darwinist factor daily, surprises that frame the question, how is strength manifest. Renew, uplift your spirits… grow something, split something, root something, divide something.

Drop off anytime the night before or early the morning of. Call Jan if you need help…508-428-6949. Will pick-up from any area.

This event is the club’s main fund-raiser. Proceeds are distributed to Meetinghouse Farms, and to the Honey Bee Research Fund of the Eastern Apicultural Society, where the monies go directly to the researchers.

back to top

Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

back to top

Annual Election
April is our Annual Meeting, where we vote for our officers and directors. Our Nominating Committee has the following proposed slate of officers: Jan Rapp, President; John Beach, Vice-President; Claire Desilets, Secretary; Paul Desilets, Treasurer. The list of Directors wishing to continue in office is: Marthe Ayers, Bill Brown, Peter Cadieux, Kalliope Egloff, Lynn Heslinga, Leslie Lichtenstein, Julie Lipkin, Rebecca Matarazzi, John “Andy” Morris, and Richard Rys New volunteers for this position are: Anne Canavan, Peter Cooper, and Brian O’Donnell.

back to top

Upcoming Meetings
May 10th - Pollinating Plants on Cape Cod – Sue Phelan
May 14th - Pollinator Plant Sale, @ Meetinghouse Farm, Rt. 149, W Barnstable. Club fundraiser
June 14th - Honey Harvesting and Preparation
June 25th – The 5th Annual Mass Beekeepers Association Field Day, at the UMASS Agronomy Farm in So. Deerfield
July 25 to 29 - Eastern Apiculture Society Annual Short Course and Conference, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cranston, R.I.

back to top

Beth Ferrante’s Motion
"Given that sufficient independent testing has not been done to confirm that the herbicides NStar plan to apply along its power line easements will not harm pollinator insects, the Barnstable County Beekeeper's Association joins the residents, municipalities, legislators, and other interested Cape Cod and Islands organizations in asking NStar to abandon its current herbicide spraying plan and commit to a no-spray, herbicide-free policy of vegetation management on Cape Cod and the Islands."
Approved by a majority of attendees.

back to top

Bees and Nucs
That moment that we have all been waiting for – the arrival of our packages – has been delayed. Wow! That’s never happened before. Just kidding! The package delivery is now due April 30th. Pickup and hiving demonstrations will be conducted at 186 Old County Road, East Sandwich and at Bill’s Bog at 1 p.m. on the aforementioned date. Directions below. The dividing line for pick-up locations is the Yarmouth/Dennis town line. East of it and you go to Bill’s Bog, West and it is East Sandwich for you.

The 5-frame nucs, however, are on track and should be here (186 Old County Rd, E Sandwich) on Saturday, April 16th. One pickup location only, at 1:00 P.M. If for any reason, delivery is late, we will notify all via email, and phone if needed.

Directions to Bill’s Bog --- Left-hand side of Route 124, from the Mid-Cape Hwy, on the Brewster/Harwich line. Andy says the bog owner wishes you to park on the right hand side of the road, not the bog side.

Directions to 186 Old County Rd, East Sandwich --- Mid-Cape Hwy, Route 6, to Exit 4. Head North off the ramp for approximately 3/8 of a mile. You will come to a “T” intersection. Take a left on Old County Road, and our driveway is the first on the left. Please park on the street along our neighbor’s fence. Driveway will be blocked.

back to top

Nuc Boxes
We still have several “special” nuc boxes on hand. We will again have some available for sale ($25.00) on April 12th. Keep in mind they are invaluable when it comes time to requeen. This nuc box will give you a few extra days as you muster up your courage to “do away” with the aging queen.

back to top

Spring Evaluation
As we get out of winter and into spring, it’s time to evaluate our colony loss from 2010. Each warm day we get on the Lower Cape, I try and prepare my hives for spring and Summer build up with the main goal to have healthier hives going into next fall and coming out of 2012.

While suffering a 30% colony loss this past year, my 2011 goal is to build up enough of my colonies, assuming another 30% loss coming out of spring 2012, to give me the ideal number of desired hives.

To start the “build up” I’ll reevaluate my hive site, last year’s feeding techniques, which colonies need requeening-using the 18 month rule of thumb, and whether new equipment needs to be ordered. Equipment should include: adequate amount of feeders, nuc boxes and perhaps some queen lure in the case of an early available swarm, plenty of 1-1 syrup on hand, Honey Bee Healthy, pollen substitute, honey supers and honey jars. In fall, I took good notes on each colony for the first time, so I know which hive will get the first batch of new queens and which colony those new queens will be bred from. Taking good notes is a must so that I know what systems are working on which hive.

Happy Spring, feed often, remembering - If the bees don’t need the food, they won’t take it! But if they don’t have food, they may not make it into the first nectar flow. - Rebecca

back to top

Bee School
….is now combined with the whole of the membership at the monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month.

back to top

Colony Collapse???
The (following) report highlights the many factors that may play into pollinator decline. I hope that by organizations such as the UN funding a report of this nature that countries around the world will wake up to the fact that pollinators, especially honey bees, play a vital role in putting food on our collective table. Pollination services and the food that it provides for humans and wildlife can not be taken for granted.

Dr. Jeff Pettis, Research Leader, USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705 USA

A new UN Environment Program (UNEP) report shows the collapse of bee colonies has become a worldwide phenomenon with serious implications for biodiversity and food security.

The report, Global Honey Bee Colony Disorders and Other Threats to Insect Pollinators, says more than a dozen factors, ranging from declines in flowering plants and habitat to the use of memory-damaging insecticides and the worldwide spread of pests and air pollution, may be behind the emerging decline of bee colonies across many parts of the globe.

It says tens of thousands of plant species could be lost in coming years unless conservation efforts are stepped up.

The report says the decline of bee populations has serious consequences for food security. Pollination is critical for flower and seed production and vital to the health of ecosystems. As many crops depend solely on pollinators for survival, the well-being of pollinating insects such as bees is critical for ensuring the availability of food for a growing global population.

Scientists who prepared the report say without profound changes to the way human-beings manage the planet, declines in pollinators needed to feed a growing global population are likely to continue.

Among the threats:

  • New kinds of virulent fungal pathogens, which can be deadly to bees and other key pollinating insects, are being detected worldwide, migrating from one region to another as a result of shipments linked to globalization and rapidly growing international trade.
  • An estimated 20,000 flowering plant species, upon which many bee species depend for food, could be lost over the coming decades unless conservation efforts are stepped up
  • Increasing use of chemicals in agriculture, including systemic insecticides and those used to coat seeds, is being found to be damaging or toxic to bees. Some can, in combination, be even more potent to pollinators, a phenomenon known as the 'cocktail effect.
  • Climate change, left unaddressed, may aggravate the situation, in various ways including by changing the flowering times of plants and shifting rainfall patterns. This may in turn affect the quality and quantity of nectar supplies.

These are among the findings of the new report, which brings together and analyzes the latest science on collapsing bee colonies.

It underlines that multiple factors are at work linked with the way humans are rapidly changing the conditions and the ground rules that support life on Earth.

The report says bees are early warning indicators of wider impacts on animal and plant life and that measures to boost pollinators could not only improve food security but the fate of many other economically and environmentally important plants and animals.

The authors of the report call for farmers and landowners to be offered incentives to restore pollinator-friendly habitats, including key flowering plants including next to crop-producing fields.

More care needs to be taken in the choice, timing and application of insecticides and other chemicals. While managed hives can be moved out of harm's way, wild populations (of pollinators) are completely vulnerable, the report says.

“The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner says. “The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.

“Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less dependent on nature's services in a world of close to seven billion people.”

The report on bee colony disorders has been led by researchers Peter Neumann of the Swiss Bee Research Center and Marie-Pierre Chauzat of the French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety.

The team also included Jeffrey Pettis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

Neumann says the transformation of the countryside and rural areas in the past half century or so has triggered a decline in wild-living bees and other pollinators.

“Society is increasingly investing in ‘industrial-scale’ hives and managed colonies to make up the shortfall and going so far as to truck bees around to farms and fields in order to maintain our food supplies,” he says.

“This report underlines that a variety of factors are making these man-made colonies increasingly vulnerable to decline and collapse. We need to get smarter about how we manage these hives, but perhaps more importantly, we need to better manage the landscape beyond, in order to cost-effectively recover wild bee populations to far healthier and more sustainable levels.”
Prepared by Alan Harman

back to top

Notice to Purchasers of Nucleus Colonies
Ed Osmun is purchasing nucleus colonies also, and is willing to return your nuc boxes to the supplier if you so wish. You can either bring them to his E & T Farm, at 85 Lombard Road, W Barnstable, or to the May meeting. He is planning on returning them on May 22nd. So, if you do not wish to keep your nuc box, contact Ed. He is paying $5/box.

back to top

Claire’s Corner
Seasonal Tips

  • Feeding - 1:1 sugar syrup when daytime temps remain 45° or above. Continue feeding dry sugar until then, if needed.
  • Cleaning – mid-April (dandelion bloom) 50°0 – remove deeps, scrape bottom board clean of debris.
    • If cluster is in top deep, place deep on bottom board and quickly inspect brood pattern, stores and replace old, damaged comb. Second deep goes next so queen may move up as cluster expands. Remove excess honey to prevent swarming. Exchange comb in damaged frames or those over 3 years old.
    • If cluster is centered between both boxes, DO NOT ROTATE BOXES, as you will split the cluster. 2nd year beekeepers, check out Addendum in Bee School Textbook.
We need your response
» Please complete the honeybee Winter Survival Survey (xls). It has been kept simple, but will assist BCBA in attempting how to address our losses. Many variables exist from year to year, but as the grant queens flood the Cape, survival should increase. Please email completed form to, or snail mail it to John Portnoy, 60 Narrowland Rd, Wellfleet, MA 02667

back to top

Grant Update

Our four Russians have survived the winter, while two of the mother hives have been replaced. Although too early to announce dates, workshops will be planned as the season progresses. Usually, the second and third weeks of May are best for making splits or requeening before swarming season commences. We will have a few Ohio queens arriving at that time for hands-on workshops.

Weather, of course, will be a factor as to when queen rearing might begin. Most important will e the availability of sexually mature drones (8 to 14 days of age). A list is forming for those wishing to purchase our Russian daughters. Emails will go out when queens are laying and ready for new homes.

CLAMS Library System will soon have a new DVD available. The subject – Top bar Hives, the Title “Back Yard Hive”

Claire ran across a website to check out to help plan your bee garden - AND, don’t forget our website has been updated with new plants thanks to Beth and Dina.

back to top

Claire has available Honey Bee Healthy, $20/ pint, and Pollen Patties $4/2 pack May be purchased at April meeting, or at Sandwich bee pickups only.

back to top

Are Your Flowers Bee Friendly???
I have planted flowers for the bees for many years but not until last year when there was a shortage of nectar did I start to think of the difference in planting flowers for pollen or nectar. While many, like Sunflowers, will make some of each, there are some flowers that primarily make one or the other. Unfortunately many of the new hybrids (think the ones you don’t have to deadhead to keep flowering) don’t make much pollen, so they make gardening easier, but are useless to the bees. Among the flowers that are good for making mostly nectar are a number of easily grown perennial varieties. The Salvias (including the sages) have flower colors from white to red to blue & are easily grown from seed. Bee balm (Monarda) is another good source of nectar & provides a long-lasting display of pink, red, and crimson flowers in midsummer, as long as you keep them deadheaded. A number of good flower nectar sources also have aromatic leaves the rest of the year. Thyme is a low growing herb, good for edgings. The bees love the thyme we have growing in the honey house beds at the fairgrounds & if you want to try some see me at the annual clean up day as I always have some extra that has overgrown. Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) has a licorice fragrance when crushed. It has purple or white flowers in midsummer, & flowers from seed the first year that you plant it. The mint family (Mentha) has many late flowering varieties besides spearmint & peppermint. You can find chocolate (it really does smell like it too), apple, orange & pineapple mints. We have pineapple mint with variegated leaves growing in the beds of the honey house. The perrenial Batchelor’s Buttons (Centaurea) have lovely blue flowers & bloom early in the summer & in wet years again in the fall. When planting this year remember nectar & that some of the best nectar sources plant themselves if we don’t weed them out. Clover is a major nectar source in your lawn if you don’t poison it with a broad-leaf herbicide & even the lowely Milkweed is a great nectar source for the bees. -- Leslie L.

back to top Last updated 04/06/2011