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Buzz Words - April 2014

Next Meeting
Our next meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, in the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149 in West Barnstable. Our meeting this month will focus on nucleus colonies: what they are, why they’re important and how to create them.

Also on the agenda is election of BCBA officers. The following slate of officers is proposed:
President: John Beach
Co-Vice Presidents: George Muhlebach, Peter Cooper
Secretary: Claire Desilets
Treasurer: Lynn Heslinga

New nominees to the board of directors are:
Mark Simonitsch
Rhett Emerson
Joe McClure
Miguel Zamora

As always, sweets and treats are welcome.

From the Board
I have learned the “tongue-in-cheek” value of always being present at any and all board meetings to which one belongs. It seems the members of the board of directors (those who were present at the last meeting), to help out our club president, decided board members would write, on a rotating basis, the introduction to the monthly newsletter. I found out today that this rotation would begin with the letter “A.” My name begins with the letter “A.” Guess what … Here goes. Let us discuss membership and what it requires and implies. Technically, if you pay your annual dues, you are a member. But the implication is that you become involved. This means more than attending some or even all of the meetings. It means more than bringing some goodies for one or all of the meetings.

Being a member implies that you should step forward, become involved and engaged – that you take on some of the burden of the operation of the club.

We have been spoiled, as members. There are a mere handful of people who have for 25 years carried the club on their shoulders. They have been president numerous times, held offices for years, if not permanently. They have organized functions and speakers and represented our club at state and national organizations. They have mentored new beekeepers, and are always there for even us veterans when there are questions that need answers or conundrums to be solved. They have always been there when someone needed a piece of equipment immediately (and many of those pieces are never returned).

This cannot go on forever. People get older. Family dynamics change. Muscles and minds weaken. Fatigue sets in.

Have you held an office in the club? Have you helped set up the building we own at the county fairgrounds? How can you help? Right now, several positions of the club’s offices are reluctantly being filled by members of the board of directors. We try to come up with new and interesting topics and speakers for each month’s meeting. We need ideas from you on what would be interesting – but more important would be help in coming up with the speakers.

We need help! We need you to take on some, a little – not all – of the task of being a member.

—Andy Morris

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

BCBA discussion group -

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A Few Spring Tips (for when spring actually arrives)
Feeding: When temperatures are moderate (in the 50s), sugar syrup feeding can begin. If stores are really low (heft from bottom back of hive to judge), start with a 2:1 blend of water to sugar (“a pint’s a pound, the world around”). Otherwise, 1:1 strength will be guzzled to entice the queen to speed up her egg laying.

Spring management: In mid-April, if weather cooperates and dandelions are in bloom, it is time to rotate the hive bodies. This can be done if, and only if, the cluster is totally in the top deep. Splitting the cluster between deeps will cause chilling of the brood and the loss of your new spring workers. Do not just rotate and walk away! Take a few more minutes to clean and scrape the bottom board. There is bound to be plenty of debris there from the consumption of honey throughout the winter. Replace if damp and rotting. Now is also the time to replace a few old frames (3 years +) in both deeps. A dab of green paint on the top bar of the new frames will help tell you when you put them in as this corresponds to the queen color for 2014.

And once you have that bottom board up, landscape around the hive stand to prevent the ants invading and make it easier to keep the grass down in front of the hive.

Attending the April meeting will help you keep your bees from swarming, knock your varroa count down and provide you with the know-how to provide your apiary with a backup hive if problems arise.

—Claire Desilets

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2014 Winter Survival Survey
The Cape Bee group would like to know just how well the first batch of nucleus colonies did over the winter. Thus a survey was created. And then we decided to take it one more step and include all members. Attached is a very simple survey: Please fill it in and return by April 30 to Dan Smith at, or mail to Dan at P.O. Box 907, Truro 02666. Questions? You can reach Dan at 508-349-3799.
» View Survey

—Marte Ayers

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Dues are Due
ATTENTION: For those who ordered packaged bees through BCBA, we have been notified of a two-week delay due to the weather. New dates, when confirmed, will be emailed immediately. Times will also be announced.

Upper Cape residents only: 186 Old County Road, East Sandwich. Directions – Mid-Cape Highway to Exit 4, head NORTH off the ramp for approximately ˝ mile to a left on Old County Road. 186 is the FIRST driveway on the left. PLEASE PARK ON THE STREET unless handicapped.

Lower Cape residents (east of the Yarmouth-Dennis town line): Pickup will be at Bill’s Bog at 1150 Harwich Road, Brewster. Directions – Route 6 to Exit 10, head north on Route 124 for approximately 2 miles. Bill’s Bog is on the left side of 124. Parking is on the right side of 124. No vehicles allowed on Bill’s Bog.

—Claire Desilets

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We're on Facebook
We're very pleased to announce the launch of the Barnstable County Beekeepers Association Facebook Group at As a club member, I will be moderator for the group and will help guide fellow beekeepers to create a vibrant and active group where everyone feels comfortable to share idea, brainstorm and contribute to the buzz about bees.

Utilizing the strength of Facebook tools, the group allows members to communicate and share with one another in a way that hasn't previously been possible. Now, from wherever you are on the Cape, you can participate in happenings within the group. Members can share photographs of their hives, ask for advice and share answers with other people across Barnstable County. All you have to do is follow the link to access the group, and you can read postings at any time.

If you have a Facebook account and would like to become a member of the group, simply click JOIN group. Joe will get a notification and will add any BCBA members. But this is an open group, so you don't even have to be a member of Facebook to view posts. When you share photographs or upload video of your girls, everyone in the world can see them. Friends, family and co-workers can see the success and challenges you're having with your hive. It's all out there for everyone to learn from. Your posts can help heighten public awareness of the joy of beekeeping and the plight of the honeybee.

When you post in the group, you need only write your post and hit Enter. Everyone in the group will receive a notification that there has been a posting in the group. Then any group member can lend advice and share experiences.

Feel free to post any questions about the group, as well. Any member can add documents and create events.

Please remember that all content should be related to beekeeping and the club. This group is for community building and fun; we discourage posts that don't further that goal. In particular, we ask that you not use the site for advertising or proselytizing. Hope to see you all on Facebook!

—Joe McClure

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Got Milkweed
Anyone who loves honeybees should be paying attention to a project begun in Waquoit with a focus on another species: monarch butterflies.

Paul Larkin of Falmouth, joining similar global efforts, has launched the Monarch Project of Cape Cod to provide and distribute milkweed seeds across the region to help rejuvenate the monarch's migration. Larkin notes that the migration of the monarch butterfly, and indeed the survival of this iconic species, is in jeopardy. The monarch depends on the existence of the milkweed plant, which is the monarch caterpillar's only food source.

For a variety of reasons, the milkweed plant is vanishing across America, which threatens the monarch's survival. As BCBA members well know, honeybees, too, rely heavily on milkweed during the hottest portion of the summer, when the nectar flow slows to a trickle.

Seeds will be distributed free with growing instructions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through May 24 at the Waquoit Congregational Church's Farmers Market, 15 Parsons Lane, East Falmouth. Mr. Rifkin, who is in charge of the project, can be reached at 508-548-5269 or at Mr. Rifkin is also seeking help spreading the word about the project and finding open fields or meadows where permission to spread seeds might be granted. If you know of any such locations, he’d like to know.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the project may sent a check made out to Waquoit Congregational Church (with "Monarch Project" in the subject line) and mail it to Waquoit Congregational Church, 15 Parsons Lane, East Falmouth, MA 02536 or bring it to the farmers market.

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Did You Know
As a side note to the item above, check out this dramatic blog post about what happens when bees forage in milkweed: If you can stomach photos of insect amputees, it will blow your mind.

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In other seed news...
In March, the newly formed Cape Cod Food Hub teamed up with Sturgis Library in Barnstable to open a public seed lending library. Members of the community can come and check out seeds free of charge to grow in their gardens, and then save seeds to return back to the library for other community members to use next year. The Cape Cod Food Hub plans to offer lectures and workshops throughout the growing season about gardening and seed saving, helping members to successfully save pure seed that’s adapted to local conditions while strengthening the local food and gardening community on the Cape.

Currently the seed library offers a selection of vegetable and flower seeds. As community members return seeds, the current offerings will be sustained; members are also invited to donate seeds to expand the collection. Many of the seeds are for bee-friendly plants, including summer and winter squash, cucumbers, and peppers, and marigolds. Stop by the Sturgis Library and check out some free seeds for your garden, and be sure to keep an eye out for another seed library opening at the Harwich Brooks Free Library in late April!

For more information email club member Tara Laidlaw, farm director at Camp Burgess & Hayward, at with any questions about the seed library program, or check out the Cape Cod Food Hub’s website at or Sturgis Library’s website at

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Mother's Day Madness
The theme in the March issue of Bee Culture focused on planting for bee foraging. Since we will not be sponsoring a pollinator plant sale this year, it seemed prudent to mention a few species of interest. And knowing there is a need for more sources of pollen and nectar for our honeybees, hints might be left about the house for those gifting for Mother’s Day.

Herbs are always a favorite of bees, but why not suggest small shrubs? Here are a few suggestions. And if you ever come across an Evodia danielli or Bee Bee tree, snatch it up. “The girls” will be ever grateful. Most blooms labeled to attract butterflies will also attract honeybees.

Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), Eastern redbud, sweet pepperbush (or clethra – White Flower Farm has a new variety, clethra alniflolia, “vanilla spice”), witch hazel, pussy willows, and lace cap hydrangea will all provide something for your bees’ diet. If you have a lot of room, think basswood tree (Tilia sp) or tulip poplar. Just be patient with their growth.

The Cape Cod Cooperative Extension’s website has an extensive list of shrubs and tree species that are suitable for our seaside conditions.

—Claire Desilets

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Recipe of the Month
Bruce Gordon’s winter protein/fat/vitamin-packed fondant variant

In a departure from what’s usually printed in this space, this recipe is not intended for human consumption … but we’re all here because we care about our bees, so let’s give them a little love. This is a recipe for them, tried and tested by our March speaker, Dr. Bruce Gordon. Yes, it is April now, and (cross your fingers) this recipe probably won’t be needed for many months now. But several people asked for it after Bruce spoke, so here you go. This recipe makes two regular cookie sheet/pans full.

Half-pint Karo light corn syrup
7˝ pounds sugar
1 pollen patty or ˝ cup MegaBee powder (if using protein patty, peel off paper in hot water before adding)
4 Tbs. HoneyBHealthy
1 Tbs. HoneyB vitamins
2 eggs, whisked

Heat Karo in large stew pot, adding sugar slowly until all dissolved. Mix well. Mixture will turn caramel brown. Melt evenly, but do not scorch, stirring as needed. Break pollen patty into 2- to 3-inch pieces before adding; add other ingredients while stirring – watch out for steam release!

Pour into two oil-sprayed cookie sheets on racks. Cool. Lift out with dull knife, and break into hand-size pieces. Store refrigerated in 1-gallon Ziploc bags.

Feed about one-quarter to one-third of a full cookie sheet in smaller pieces, about weekly per hive. In very cold weather, smaller pieces can be slipped through the inner cover’s central hole without removing it.

back to top Last updated 4/3/14