Current Newsletter
Archived Newsletters

Buzz Words - August 2010

From the President
Late June. The moment I arrived Andy regaled me with the incredible fact that “exactly one year ago today he had been called to remove a swarm of honeybees under this very same porch.” An auspicious start to a routine (for Andy) bee removal was my offered opinion.  I had called him looking for a swarm in hopes that I could put my Sam-given top bar hive into service with a feral colony.
Crouched under the porch in our bee garb, Andy vacuumed bees off the hanging comb before cutting them down one-by-one and then passing them to me for rubber-banding to a temporary frame. There were about ten combs drawn out and filled with honey, pollen and brood. The purest, most natural form of comb there is, worked by one newly formed colony and showing little sign of travel stain.
We were quietly at our work when I chanced to look up and lo there was the queen traipsing across Andy’s back. I could tell who she was even from seven feet away, so imposing with an unrivaled thorax. She had apparently scooted off a frame that Andy was busy sucking bees from and taken a little hike. I cut her hike short when I trapped her with a springed queen cage and put her in the transfer box to help settle any bees still on the transferred comb.

Back at my ranch we tied the combs to the top bars, I was worried the order might be off but Andy assured me that their world was already awry and they would cope with and remedy the situation. After Andy emptied out the bees that had made the ride over in the ‘specially made vacuum, I released the caged queen (albeit a mite roughly according to my mentor), the top was laid in place and the waiting began.

Late July. All’s well although I would have expected a faster build-up. I think the uprooting took its toll and the major nectar flow had peaked by their arrival. Everything else looks healthy, new brood and plenty of stores. Now, if these girls overwinter they will make for great queen stock for BCBA’s queen rearing program.  

–Jan Rapp

back to top

Timely Tips of the Season
When your honey is capped and ready to harvest, plan ahead. It should be extracted within 24 hours of removal from the hive.
Why?  In this humid weather, even though the cells are capped, the honey will absorb moisture and could cause fermentation if supers are sitting around for any length of time. Secondly, Small Hive Beetles just LOVE unattended honey and will slime your frames in a short period of time.
   Depressing a thought as it may be, thinking  of winter preparation is in order. Critical issues to consider are:

  1. How old is the queen and how is her brood pattern?
  2. Are the frames all drawn? If not, move them into  populated areas
  3. Stores – are there frames of honey in the brood area? If not, consider feeding sugar syrup until the next nectar flow. BUT, be aware of robbing if there are other hives in the area.

This is a great time to build a nucleus colony, if you have a strong hive, to hedge your bets against a winter loss. Two frames of brood and bees, a frame of honey and pollen (or patty) and two empty frames for expansion. Add a queen 24 hours later. You will never learn if you do not try.

back to top

Upcoming Meetings
Oct 2nd - MA Beekeepers, Fall Meeting and Honey Competition, Leicester
Dr. David Tarpy, North Carolina State University
Dr. Joe Latshaw, Latshaw Apiaries, New Albany, Ohio

back to top

Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

back to top

Barnstable County Fair
I would like to thank all the volunteers who came forward to help with the fair even with the heat the noon shift had to bear.   We had two fans show up for the remainder of the fair.  Thank you very much.  I certainly appreciate everyone's help and the few brave souls who returned to do a second and third shift.  Thank you. I will probably change the shift length next year depending on the fair's schedule.  The rain days didn't seem to hurt our booth as we had a good turnout come through and I kept phoning  S.O.S. messages for more honey. 

We even have a few new signups for our bee course next winter thanks to all the excitement that we create just by talking about our "girls".  I think there was at least one "newbee" who came across as an excited keeper of her bees and may have recruited a new student for the winter classes.  I told you it would be fun to talk to the public and you probably would be able to answer all their questions.  Read on as there will be more about the fair results further in the newsletter  --  Marte

I had the pleasure of working the fair this year with a newbee, fresh out of our bee school. Besides being just a nice person, Mallory was super at encouraging people to take our bee school. I know it is always scary to do something new & be unsure you can answer questions, etc. even when told you will always be paired with an experienced beekeeper, so many newbees don't want to sign up for the fair. But Mallory brought something to the honey house, that the old timers, no matter what our experience, couldn't offer to prospective beekeepers. Just what it's like to come in cold, meet new people & go to bee school! Sure we can say it's great, & you will learn this & that, but we can't impart the feelings of a first timer anymore. We talk to lots of people & hand out lots of bee school brochures, but I'm sure she encouraged more people to sign up this fall than I could. So I'd like to thank all the newbees that did sign up & encourage those of you who held back to come help us again next year! --  Leslie L

If you have never experienced a shift at the Club’s Bee Building (and from the turn out of volunteers this year, I suspect there are many of you), you have missed a wonderful time. The numbers of visitors that walk through the doors is at times overwhelming. Even the most paranoid “Apis mellifera-phobe” wants to look at the observation hive, ask questions, and, always, buy honey, honey sticks or candy.

The questions ranged from Colony Collapse Disorder to how long the queen lives to how to become a beekeeper. Two of the four shifts I worked, were with club members with only one or two years of experience. They should be proud of their performances. They answered all questions with care and accuracy. As a matter of fact, I deferred to them many questions about starting out in bee keeping, as I don’t remember that long ago.

The best part of the experience is ”people watching”. The building is situated perfectly for that. I don’t know if it is because I just got my first, and now am much more aware, but I don’t remember ever seeing so many tattoos.

It is always easy to say, “I’ll do it next year”. But who knows what will happen in that year? The club needs your participation in more areas than just attending meetings. Remember, even the strongest of backbones collapse without support. There are a relative few who carry the club. Your help is required and, trust me, will be much appreciated.  --  Andy

back to top

B.C.B.A. Ribbon Winners
‘Tis a fairly lengthy list, so I will do them as so, not to diminish the efforts that all these folks put in, in order to compete.

Cindy Mesmer - a First, and Best In Show, for her honey.
Cal Mutti - received a 1st for his wax casting, and others for Cherry Tomatoes, Summer Squash, Hydrangeas, Balloon Flowers, and Thirds for his Astilbe and for Butterfly Bush. 
Jan Rapp - garnered Firsts for her Red Potatoes and Red Onions, as well as Garlic.  She also had several Seconds for Pickling Cukes, Beets, Yellow Onions, Blue Globe Thistle and Cleome.  And, a Third Place ribbon for her Home Garden Basket.
Leslie Lichtenstein - (Should be commended for the beautiful job she does with our bee gardens out in front of the Bee Building) received a First for her Cow Flower Arrangement, and a Second for her Home Garden Basket.
Tom Novitsky - garnered 2 Firsts for his 2 entries in the  Lily competition.
Karen Schwalbe - received a Second for Garlic.
Claire Desilets - grabbed a Blue Ribbon for her Burpless Cukes.

back to top

2010 Package/Queen Survey
Please continue to fill in the package/queen survey as the season progresses. By mid-July everyone should be able to compete the form and return it by August 1st. 
» Download the 2010 Package/Queen Survey

back to top

Grant Update
The six grant hives remain active to the degree some will produce honey for the club. Perhaps in October for the Harvest Festival at the fairgrounds. We will need to design a label to sell B.C.B.A. Honey.
Queen rearing? It has been a slow process, but the Vermont Russian nucs (all 4) have a nice brood pattern. John has cells started again and we will post an email to all when ready.  The first “litter” of queens on the Upper Cape were destroyed by robbing bees. Another lesson learned the hard way. Do NOT attempt queen-rearing during a nectar dearth. A new set of Miller frames are awaiting eggs as we write this message.  As always, stay tuned.

back to top

Glories of the Garden at Highfield Hall
B C B A has been invited to join Paul Parent and local professionals for a Family Festival on Sunday, August 22nd, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event will be the summer finale to support the landscape restoration of Highfield Hall in Falmouth. (

The club will provide educational material and a display with the observation hive under a tent. We have a few volunteers, but would like a few more so that all may enjoy the event’s offerings.

back to top

Claire's Corner
Two more cents to be added to the Fair comments: in addition to all the information disseminated, you workers sold 5800 honey sticks (2009=4100) and 70 pounds of honey candy! There are 87 pieces of candy per pound, so you do the math. A new record! But, how does one figure with one less day, hot humid weather and three days with heavy soaking rain?

Kudos go to all youngsters that could spot the queen in the observation hive. We really need to find a fluorescent paint or one more vibrant. Or, should we just let all those young, bright eyes attempt to find her? Any thoughts?

The Thursday prior to fair opening, we decided the observation hive was not presentable due to constant chalkbrood infection. Good teaching tool, but not suitable for public presentation. So, plan B was to mark a queen in a small nuc, add her frame of brood and find a nice frame of honey for educational purposes. Well, the queen would have nothing to do with this marking procedure, dropped to the ground, never to be seen again. Gulp! Did we have a plan C? Hmm, panic was setting in. What to do?

O.K., let’s try this – move the observation hive outside to the deck, capture the queen, and put her aside while we brush every bee off the infested frames. What a huge gob of bees clustered on the outside of the entrance tube. Surprisingly large when viewed in a vertical plane and one bee thick.

Next, we added the frame of brood from the now queenless nuc, added a frame of honey, marked the queen (oh, so carefully) and let her crawl back home. Lastly, we re-installed the observation hive in the house and let the bees return home. For sure, we thought the scent of fresh honey would draw them in immediately. Oh, no. Too many odors, that’s not our brood, we are not going home. We wish we had taken pictures of the mass hanging onto the outside stoop for a number of hours.More grey hair! But, as dusk descended and the temperature cooled (a bit) the girls all decided to return home.

Please note that as a rule the queen does not move about as much as this babe did during the fair. In order to make an informative, educational hive, most cells were filled and there was little room left in the inn. We’ll do better next year.

P.S. – Upon inspection tonight (7/28) the frame of honey now has a beautiful patch of capped brood on both sides. You go girl!

back to top

A Few Last Tidbits
BCBA promises a lively debate on queen excluders this fall, but here is a recent development in one of our apiaries. An over-wintered gangbuster hive with 4 honey shallows was visited last weekend to harvest honey. Because of the activity, a queen excluder had been placed under the shallows when first added. What a shock! This queen must have a “Barbie Doll” figure as we had 2 shallows nearly full of the most perfect brood pattern we have seen. To use or not??????

Do you have honey to extract? Do you want to market it? Give it away to family, friends, neighbors? Are you going to use old pickle jars, jelly tubs, canning jars, or are you going to give your product the look of a professional beekeeper? For Classic Honey Jars, contact Ed Osmun at 508-802-0509 to place your order and receive your pickup date.

Check out the Wood’s Hole Film Festival. We hear that on October 2nd, the film “The Queen of the Sun” will be viewed

back to top Last updated 08/12/10