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Buzz Words - August 2015

A reminder that the club does not meet in summertime. Meetings will resume in September.

What a lovely summer we’ve had to enjoy our bees with what seems like an endless summer season of fairly continuous forage! The bloom of the various Outer Cape forage has left me wondering: How is it that I’m picking blueberries as the goldenrod is starting to bloom? In my opinion, this year Mother Nature has played some tricks with the blooms, but I’m not complaining … and neither are my bees! Although it’s been dry, there’s been rain at just the right times this year and they’ve had plenty to forage on, rushing in and out of their hives, practically knocking each other over anytime I’m around them during the day; less to forage early on in Provincetown ponds, but more forage from the Truro marshes and environs. What strikes me so, and makes me take in deeply, are those wafts of heady aromas when getting about 6 feet from the colonies. Those girls are mighty busy… and it seems they work so tirelessly yet have been pretty darn pleasant considering the hot weather we’ve faced during July. Perhaps they, too, remember the winter of 2015! On those days when I arrive to inspect and they let me know, “I’m not in the mood today,” I stand and watch and don’t dare open up, lest I set them back in their chores.

I was recently asked why I keep bees. I had to think of what to say that would make sense, to avoid being one of those people whose eyes roll back in their head and gaze deeply into some faraway place as they dreamily talk about something they love … and what I came up with was this: I love the science part of beekeeping when I go into a colony and decide it’s time to make a nuc, take good notes, approximate when the virgin queen will hatch, mate and begin to lay, and follow it through every step of the way, watching something grow. I also love the weeks preceding mid-July, watching the weather, the bloom, when I’m hoping my first honey harvest will come, watching the coming and going in and out of the colony, bees tripping over each other as they wait until there’s room on the landing board to get their nectar unloaded. And it’s a kick to hear the honey lovers talk about the honey I’ve given them, and the joyful sounds they make when describing what it was like tasting the honey for the first time. Probably most special are those days, on approach to the hive, when all that I can smell is that very heady smell that we’ve all smelled: hundreds of millions of concentrated flowers; nectar curing within those hives walls signifying it’ll soon be ready to pull. Heavenly aroma! And I breathe it in and out until I’m about to faint. My bees = my oxygen. I can’t live without them! Happy Harvest!!

—Rebecca Matarazzi

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Julie Lipkin -

BCBA discussion group -

Tamar Haspel -

Facebook page -

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Save the date: Beekeepers’ Ball, Sept. 17, 2016, 5-9:30 p.m. Cape Cod Cultural Center Interested in being on the planning committee? Meet once a month in a mid-Cape location for one hour. Let Kalliope know,

Creating an awareness of honeybees in an affordable, festive atmosphere, fun for people of all ages.

Food and drink, music and dancing, displays and contests!

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I would like to thank everyone who brought our best variety and amount of honey of a few years. It was nice to see the pretty shades of gold on the shelves.

I would also like to thank everyone who volunteered to “man” our building. This was the first year in the 10 or so years I have been organizing the schedule that it was completed two weeks ahead of the fair. Everything went smoothly (as far as I know); our case was full of everyone’s beautiful hive products, and the products sold well. We started our fair preparations with a nice group of “worker bees” who cleaned, repaired and produced a flower garden before we finished off with a wonderful array of luncheon plates to devour. Thank you so much to those who showed up to lend a hand in sprucing up the building for the season. A special thanks to Leslie Lichtenstein for all the organization to plant the garden..

Our “newbees” enjoyed themselves and answered questions from the public very nicely (I overheard a few of you when I was closing up). We had a lot more of our brochures taken and it sounds like we have a good start on signups for our bee course in January. All in all, I think we had a very successful fair..

I found out when Claire and I were cleaning up the building that we are not invited to open our doors for the Scallop Festival this year, as there were honey vendors who complained of the competition. So this was your only chance to sell your honey in our bee building for the year. If you have extra honey to sell, the health food stores always welcome local honey. We also have a supply of honey sticks and honey candy that we purchase for the Scallop Festival that will be available for purchase at our Christmas party, or perhaps individually through Claire. Again, thanks to everyone for making this a success..

(Claire adds that we sold more than 6,600 honey sticks and more than 60 pounds of honey candy, while club members sold $4,465 of local hive products!).

—Marte Ayers

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For the record, due to health reasons, I am no longer removing honeybees from buildings anymore. If anyone wants counseling on the techniques involved, I would be happy to help.

—Andy Morris

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Formic acid, the key ingredient of ant venom, has long been used by beekeepers, particularly in Europe, as a miticide to combat varroa. It turns out birds use the same trick. Check out this excerpt from Gilbert Waldbauer’s book “What Good Are Bugs?: Insects in the Web of Life” (Harvard University Press, Copyright 2003 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, Pages 134-136).

—Board of directors

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The club will offer another round of instructional hive openings later this month, but scheduling is a little bit in flux right now. Keep an eye on your email; we’ll send out another notice when specific days and times have been settled on.

—Board of directors

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Interested in donating honey to food pantries frequented by veterans and active service members this harvest year? For information and to participate, email Kalliope,

—Kalliope Egloff

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REQUEEN – August is a good time to requeen if you are unhappy with your queen - her aggressiveness, brood pattern or just her advancing age.

HONEY STORES – It is hard to think winter now in early August, but it is necessary with beekeeping. Honey storage for the winter must start now as clethra, goldenrod and aster bloom. Heft the back of the hive from the bottom board. If the hive comes up easily, your hive needs feeding ASAP. Best not to use sugar syrup; use dry sugar or the mountain camp method of feeding. And, of course, no honey shallows should be on the hive when feeding.

MEDICATING – Most members shy away from medicating against the varroa mite, but if your count is high, there is a good likelihood that the hive will not survive the winter. Organic methods are available if the need arises.

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split was made. Unfortunately, an overwintered Cape Cod queen was moved into a separate hive along with three frames of her brood and bees. The reason was to break the varroa cycle in the mother hive while the workers create a new queen.

The capped brood would hatch out and no new larvae would be available for the lurking varroa to sneak into and multiply. That part of the procedure worked perfectly and the hive now has a new head of the household. For some unknown reason, the moved queen disappeared. During inspection a few weeks later, this enormous cell was spotted. This queen cell measured 1½ inches long, which is about a half-inch longer then a “normal” queen cell. There is a variation on length based on race and the health of the pupa and how well she was fed in the larval stage. But one this long does really not bode well for the enclosed body.

This picture was circulated among a group of beekeepers and here were some of the comments: “This happens even in nectar-starved Wellfleet, maybe 1-2% of cells. I haven’t been able to find any mention of this in literature available on the web, but it may be that the larva becomes detached from the royal jelly too soon, drops down in the cell, and the bees try to contain it within the cell by lengthen(ing) the cell. The outcome in my limited experience is not good.” - John Portnoy

And from Janko Bozic: “Nothing will come out. Sorry. Bees are stretching queen cells when is inside drone larvae. It cannot keep in the cell upside down on the supplied R. John made right description. That most often happens when bees are trying to rear new queen from worker cells where were laid drone eggs by false queen (worker bee with developed ovaries, when the colony doesn’t have a queen).”

Well, knowing that it probably was not a viable cell and there was a need for a new queen, the scalpel came out and sliced down the length of the cell (see photo at right). It was astonishing to see a pearly white queen pupa. No big purple eyes, so it was not a drone, but a queen larva. And John’s suggestion was correct, as still at the base of the cell attached to Does this look normal to you? The workers were giving it all kinds of attention, making it difficult to get the picture. Notice the change in color of the wax for the lower half-inch. Think it might be twins? the frame was a nice pool of royal jelly. Just too far away for the queen to reach.

We know the queen somersaults 40 to 80 times as she spins her cocoon, and will eat for up to 10 minutes from the pool of royal jelly at the base of the cell; this poor queen never had a chance. So do you suppose the beekeeper was a bit too rough when handling the frame? Th

is is doubtful, but certainly a lesson for all of us to handle frames carefully and always pull from the outside edge first to prevent damaging the queen or a future queen. Honeybees are just so fascinating! —Claire Desilets.

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Reading through the July issue of the American Bee Journal, I was shocked to read that it is now thought that the worker bees do NOT produce hexagonal cells but create circular cells. It is still being debated, but the new theory is that the actual physical property of the wax creates the hexagon. What a disappointment! Jamie Ellis of the University of Florida states “that the flow of the wax ultimately produces the hexagonal cells that the beekeepers and scientists celebrate.” This information comes from Hepburn, H.R., Pirk, C.W.W., Duangphakdee, O., 2014 Honeybee Nests, Compositions, Structures, Function. Heidelberg/New York/Dordrecht/London.

—Claire Desilets

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Recipe of the Month
Honey-glazed baby back ribs with whiskey marinade**

(Conversions for U.S. are approximate: Using kitchen scale recommended)

For the marinated ribs
3 racks baby back ribs (about 5 lbs.)
¼ c. plus 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
¼ c. plus 2 Tbsp. whiskey
¼ c. honey
2 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1½ tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

For the honey glaze and dipping sauce
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp. hot water
½ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ c. Korean red pepper flakes or 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
¼ c. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. sugar

Arrange the rib racks in a large glass or ceramic baking dish, overlapping them slightly. In a medium bowl, whisk the soy sauce with the whiskey, honey, ginger, white pepper, sesame oil, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the marinade over the ribs and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.

In a small bowl, combine the honey with the hot water. In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice with the fish sauce, soy sauce, pepper flakes, cilantro and sugar; stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Preheat the oven to 300°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Arrange the ribs on the baking sheet, meaty side up. Roast for about 2 hours, until tender. Baste the ribs with the honey mixture and roast for another 15 minutes, until browned and glossy. Remove the ribs from the oven and baste again with the honey mixture. Preheat a grill. Grill the ribs over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred, about 4 minutes. Transfer the racks to a cutting board and cut into individual ribs. Arrange the ribs on a platter and serve the dipping sauce alongside.

* Recipe reprinted from

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The Americas have no native honeybees – early pioneers first brought them from Europe.

back to top Last updated 7/8/15