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Buzz Words - April 2012

Tuesday, April 10th, 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149. George will walk us through the causes of swarming, how to prevent them, and Andy will relate some swarms that he has extracted from peoples homes.

From the President
The words, natural history, conjure up some of the most calm and contemplative moments I hold dear. The NY Natural History Museum where one is greeted and dwarfed by reconstructed behemoths then caught up in a diorama of native tribal lifestyle from the “new world,” to the Harvard Peabody Museum with its double wall of old-fashioned wood-mullioned windows drenching light over earth’s colorful, most extraordinary geologic wonders and this juxtaposed against a room full of cases filled with exquisite, fragile man-made glass flowers.

Natural history of the kind described by William Smith, the English geologist who, by designing the Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales, influenced the way modern complex information is visually presented and understood. Natural history of the kind that led to Charles Darwin’s breakthrough thesis in the Origin of the Species thus sparking years of intellectual study and debate.

It just doesn’t get much more exciting than applying natural phenomena observed in one discipline to resolve and explain conundrum across other disparate disciplines.

Professor Thomas Seeley’s presentation on Honeybee Democracy and understanding swarm intelligence this Saturday at the Cape Cod Natural History Museum will surely prove one of those occasions where aha and wonderment intercept. I won’t miss it!

Pollinator Plant Sale, May 12th at Meetinghouse Farm – Get Ready


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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

Disovery Magazine has compiled nearly 50 articles relating to issues and challenges facing bees. They can be read at:

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News on the CCD Front
No definitive cause has been found for Colony Collapse Disorder, but some recent research may indicate that the bee’s diet may be a contributing factor. Commercial traveling beekeepers feed their hives over the winter, when the bees are not working pollinating crops. Because it’s cheaper, beekeepers, like processed food manufacturers, have begun feeding the bees with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) instead of honey, cane or beet sugar. Researchers have shown that bees fed HFCS do not activate the same genes as bees fed honey or cane sugar. The HFCS fed bees do not turn on their immune genes, so they have less ability to fight off infection and do not make the enzymes needed to break down pesticides, so are more likely to be harmed or killed by pesticides that normally would have limited or no effect. They have also found that, bee bread given to the baby bees is not the same and may affect bee development. The HFCS diet also reduced the growth of beneficial bee intestinal fungal growth by 15% and this may have the potential to alter the balance of fungi that are needed in a colony to optimize pollen storage and digestion. Another possibility is that the bees are suffering from being forced to specialize by pollinating huge numbers of the same plant, instead of gathering pollen from many different plants. While it is likely that there are several factors involved in Colony Collapse Disorder, it is interesting that many seem to point to problems within commercial agricultural (use of HFCS and huge singular crop production) as playing a role in CCD. – Leslie Lichtenstein

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The Perfect Beekeeper
The perfect beekeeper is he who, although still as enthusiastic as he was at the outset, knows how to apply, in time, the lessons which experience has taught him and to adapt himself with tact to circumstances. He does not know everything -- on the contrary, he becomes aware that the longer he keeps bees the more he learns and that perfection consists in perfecting oneself more and more, casting aside routine in favor of progress, not forgetting the lessons of the past, the experience of bee masters, and the realistic whims of his beloved bees.

Rev. Fr. Dugat in "The Skyscraper Hive" 3rd. ed. 1947
reprinted in "The Irish Beekeeper" June 1965

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The Bee Informed Partnership
This group of researchers are asking for your input on winter loss. Be sure to check out their website at and fill out a short survey on survival in 2011-2012.

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Upcoming Meetings
Saturday, March 24, 2012
On Saturday, May 12th, the Bee Building will get a facelift. If you have hammering skills and an urge to help, we will be there from 9 a.m. coating the back and ends of the building with cedar clapboard. Step ladders and staging might be of value for the tops of the sides. Pizza and …….. will be provided at lunchtime. Call Paul (508-888-2304) if planning to come.

Saturday, June 23rd, UMASS Agronomy Farm, So. Deerfield. Keep an eye on our website – – to learn the latest, and how to rent a reduced rate room at the local Red Roof Inn.

Saturday, July 16th to Saturday, July 23rd, Barnstable County Fair. Stay tuned for more details.

August 13th to 17th, Eastern Apiculture Society’s Annual Meeting, held this year at the Univ of Vermont Campus, Burlington. Go to for details.

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Do you want to compete?
   How good are your honey, candles, photos, or baked goods?  Are they prize worthy?  Whether you are planning to attend EAS this year and compete with the veterans, or just want to be sure your items are the best they can be, the 2012 EAS Honey Show Committee has made a new page on the EAS website. By investigating and using the material collected for you on the site, you will develop skills that improve all your hive products, whether for competition in local fairs, at EAS, or for sale locally.

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Workshops and Hive Openings
The club has placed three hives at the Mass Audubon’s Long Pasture Sanctuary, on Bone Hill Rd, Barnstable. Monthly hive openings are scheduled below with more information and directions in May.

Running concurrently, thanks to members volunteering, will be George Muhlbach at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, John Portnoy in Wellfleet, and Marte Ayers in Falmouth. The dates are May 5th, June 9th, August 11th, and September 8th, all Saturdays, at 1 p.m. Stay tuned.

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Grant Update
As we move beyond the confines of the queen rearing grant, much work will continue. We will be adding two new breeder queens in May. Their heritage, VHS/Carniolan, will add new traits to our Cape Cod daughters. Varroa sensitive hygienic will be most valuable. If the trait continues, the workers should identify the cells with Varroa mites and pull the larva out. The dark Carniolan bee should be gentle, overwinter in small clusters and utilize fewer honey stores.

Most exciting is the survival rate of our Cape Cod queens. Although the number of queens is small, 70% have survived and head strong colonies coming into spring. We plan on raising larger numbers this season with more members assisting. Also, a nucleus building program is in the planning stages. More on this in May.

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This is an election year for our organization. All positions are open and can be “campaigned” for. Elections take place at our Annual Meeting in April. The nominating committee is made up of Marte Ayers and Paul Desilets. If anyone would like to sit on our board (board meetings occur quarterly), we do have two empty seats, please contact either Marte or Paul before the next meeting. Nominations will be accepted from the floor.

The following folks are standing for election and looking for your votes for the following positions: John Beach, President; Leslie Lichtenstein and Peter Cooper for Co-Vice-presidents, Claire Desilets for Secretary, Paul Desilets for Treasurer.

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Claire's Corner
Mid-April, dandelions in bloom – time to rotate? What will we do this season? Many of us on the Upper Cape rotated in mid-March based on the activity and strength of the hives. Solid patterns of brood, capped drone brood, loaded pollen baskets from pussy willow and swamp maple were evident upon inspection.

Due to the microclimates across the cape, spring management will differ. Based on your hives’ activities, rotation of the deep boxes is a general rule. Your overwintered bees have spent the winter in the top deep with the honey stores. As the queen likes to work up, and the bottom deep is probably empty, switching the two will enable the queen to lay prolifically, and hopefully prevent swarming.

Do not just rotate and walk away! Take the time to clean/scrape the bottom board of all debris. Then on a nice warm day, pull and inspect all frames. Do not leave excess frames of honey in the hive. Place frames of honey on the outside edges of the box. Perhaps 4 to 5 are sufficient. Nestle frames of stored pollen next to brood. Any frames over 4 to 5 years should have wax replaced. Frames with excessive drone comb should also be culled. An easy way to keep track of the age of your comb is to paint the frame ends using the international queen marking code. 2012 will be yellow. A C Moore paint pens work perfectly.

Have you purchased nucleus colonies in the past few years? These frames, from any source, can harbor disease and should be replaced sooner rather than later. What we find surprising is that with the concern of pesticides and herbicides affecting our bees, “contaminating” the pollen and wax foundation, how few of the members purchase new foundation. A ten dollar investment for 10 sheets of foundation and a bit of scraping certainly will help keep your bees cleaner and healthier.

Strong hives may be fed 1:1 sugar syrup if the honey stores are dwindling. New packages on new foundation cannot be allowed to run out of syrup unless we have nectar flows.

Pollen has been coming in on the bees with heavily laden pollen baskets. We found the pollen patties ignored and have removed them to prevent replication of the small hive beetles. Feed just small patties if you must. Speaking of Small Hive Beetle, the club now stocks the disposable Beetle Blaster traps for $1.50. Each package purchased through the club this spring will receive a free SHB trap. Please ask on the hectic pickup days.

Lastly, we must all be more diligent and screen for the Varroa mite. It appears our losses across the cape have been reasonable this past winter. Perhaps it is related to the mild weather. A report was just received from the bee lab regarding a member’s lost hive.

The good news is that the sample was FREE from Nosema disease and tracheal mite. The unfortunate news was that Varroa was detected at a rate of 61.1 mites per 100 bees. This perhaps did not kill the hive, but it is considerably well above a healthy threshold. Undetected viruses could be lurking. Review for better management and treatment.

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Hive Equipment
I have mentioned in the past issues that we do have some equipment not on the list that I send out, due to donations, no pick-ups, etc.  Some of these are cone escape boards, Boardman feeders, Hive-top feeder (inserts only, no box)
» View Equipment Order Form (pdf)

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Member Jeff Howard has a complete hive, fully assembled and painted, never used. Interested? Call Jeff 508-888-1016

GOT HONEY???? NEED JARS????? Call Ed Osmun, 508-802-0509 to order your glassware. Ed has ˝, 1 & 2 pound Classic Honey Jars in stock. Sold in case lots only.

back to top Last updated 03/05/12