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Buzz Words - December 2008

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Obscure Bee Trivia
4. Upcoming Meetings of Interest
5. Claire's Corner
6. Bee School 2009
7. The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
8. Library
9. Tips
10. Websites of Interest
11. Classifieds
12. Fondant Candy Recipe

The December Meeting featuring our Holiday Market, will be at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149, Tuesday evening December 9th, beginning  at 7:30 p.m.  Last year found creamed and extracted honeys, all sorts of beeswax candles, locally knit goods, wooden swords and shields for your young princes, club honeystix and honey candy available for sale; not to mention the delicious baked goods and holiday treats that are sure to be there for our enjoyment.

New members and registered Bee School members are urged to attend. It will give you a chance to meet some of your fellow members and perhaps find that a neighbor is also a beekeeper.

From the President
As I am writing this last letter for 2008, we are preparing for Thanksgiving and soon thereafter we will start decorating our homes for the up-coming holidays.

Yet the year is coming to an end in its own time. With it ends another beekeeping season or perhaps more accurately, a new beekeeping cycle has begun. Whether the hives demonstrate activity come spring is set already.  Good fall preparations optimize the outcome. Let’s hope for a mild winter!

A useful goal for the winter is to deepen ones knowledge of beekeeping by taking out something from the library or re-reading old journals. Claire has reviewed our club library and many of our books are now in the Whelden Library in West Barnstable.  From there they are now available throughout the Cape through the CLAMS library system.  Thanks Claire.

This has been an interesting year. The continued publicity of African bees and CCD have made the public more aware of the importance of bees for our foods and the local environment.  Whenever people learn that I keep bees, they have lots of questions.  It always amazes me how little is known and understood about our “girls”.

I wish all of you happy holidays and a prosperous 2009.  May the bees fly and the honey flow.  -- George

Obscure Bee Trivia
One of the regular contributors to Bee-L (a beekeeper’s chat line) received a request from his wife (recovering from an injury) that he regale her at breakfast with a daily item of bee trivia.  He sought help from other contributors and a few of the comments are listed here for your enjoyment.

I don't know how "highly" obscure this is, but it's one of my favorites. Amos Root, despite inventing the smoker, was very anti-smoking.  He promised a free bee smoker to anyone who wrote him saying they'd quit smoking cigarettes.

From: Michael Palmer (speaker at MBA Fall Meeting)   -  When reading letters to the editor in a "Gleanings" from the late 1800's, I came across one letter from a  beekeeper who had received a smoker from A.I.Root. He was returning his reward, as he had once again taken up the smoking of tobacco.

From: Dick Marron  of the BackYard Beekeepers --
                          Back around 1900 horse-manure was tried as a hive insulator in CT.

From: "J. Waggle", natural beekeeper of Pennsylvania  --
The scientific name for honeybee; apis mellifera is actually incorrect. In 1758, Linnaeus, in error, categorized the honeybee as apis mellifera, meaning “honey-carrying bee”,  which implied that bees merely carried honey from flowers to comb.  In 1761 Linnaeus’s brother who was a beekeeper, spotted the mistake and proposed to have the name changed to apis mellifica, meaning “honey-making bee”.  But according to the international rules, the earlier name had to be maintained.

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Upcoming Meetings of Interest
B.C.B.A. Holiday Market on Tuesday, December 9th.  A great time to pick up all sorts of locally produced items worthy of Christmas gift status.  All members are encouraged to bring their crafts, whether bee-related or not. Last year we had the usual round of honeys, candles, hand creams and lip balms as well as hand-carved swords, paired with worthy shields for the little knights in our lives, and beautifully knitted hats, mittens and scarves.  We don’t want to fail to mention the fantastic holiday treats baked by our own ladies and gentlemen.

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Claire's Corner
Due to a number of requests, emails and phone calls throughout the season, the club will provide a chapter in the 2009 Bee School text to assist second-year and beyond beekeeprs. It will be done as Frequently Asked Questions and Helpful Hints. 

There is a vast source of beekeeping information available on the internet, bee journals, and library books. We encourage you invest a few minutes to research your situation before contacting a mentor.

This FAQ project will be ongoing and any suggestions to improve this line of communication will encourage us all to be better beekeeprs. Included with this newsletter is the first draft.  Please save it.   
» View FAQs

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Bee School 2009
.. will commence on Monday, January 5th and continue on the 1st and 3rd Mondays in January, February, and March. We have moved over to the West Barnstable Community Building due to overcrowding at the Whelden Library. The board has decided to close the class at 30 families. To date, the class is half filled.
» View schedule

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The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
by Andy Morris

It was about 5:30 in the evening when Paul ‘n Patty installed their bees. They waited until then on the recommendation of one of their instructors, the reason being that the bees would orientate better to their new home and their new queen if they were to settle in immediately for the night.

They also decided to supply both hives with sugar syrup for food. The formula suggested by Bee School was a ratio of one measure of sugar to one measure of water. Being rather competitive, they each chose a different method of feeding their hives.

“My girls will be able to bring more syrup down into the hive,” said Patty. “This hive top feeder holds more syrup and hundreds of bees can feed at the same time.”

“Well, I think I like this bucket feeder,” said Paul. “It is simple, and some of the instructors reported instances when those hundreds of bees of yours drowned in the syrup. Simple is simply better. I bet you a dinner out that my bees use more syrup this week than yours.”

“You are ON!”

All suited up, the pair of excited, new beekeepers each carried a new two gallon gasoline container, boldly marked SUGAR SYRUP, out to their hives. Patty removed both the outer and inner covers and put on the hive top feeder. Paul watched, wanting to help, but he knew this was something Patty wanted to do on her own. Because of the disturbance of opening the hive, hundreds of bees were now flying around. They weren’t aggressive. This wasn’t their home yet.  Quite a few landed on both of them, leaving distinct yellow spots.

“Cute,” thought Paul. “We give them a new home and they thank us this way. Could be worse, I guess.”

“Uhh,” grunted Patty. “Who would have thought two gallons could weigh so much? I hope I don’t over fill the feeder. That would let syrup to pour into the hive and kill lots of my bees.”

“I hesitate to ask,” Paul began to suggest, “but would you like some help?”

Shockingly, Patty said, “Just this once, if you don’t mind. I’d hate to goof up so early in my new career.”

After pouring into the feeder the entire contents of the syrup container, and closing up Patty’s hive, Paul got busy feeding his. He put his feeding bucket on a flat patch of ground so it wouldn’t tip over as he filled it. When filled, he put on the cover and proceeded to open the hive. He had only to remove the outer cover, as he was going to place the feeder over the oblong hole in the inner cover. No bees flew from his hive.

“If you keep doing that,” giggled Patty, “you most certainly will win our bet.” Paul had inverted the bucket feeder and, not having sealed the lid correctly, proceeded to pour a gallon of sticky sugar syrup all over his right foot, causing a string of interestingly colorful words to escape his lips.

“At least,” he thought, “I didn’t invert it over the hive. Thank goodness I learned that much from Bee School.”

Silently, he refilled his feeder, double checked the lid, and put it, successfully, on the hive. After putting on a second deep body, and closing up the outer cover, he silently took up the syrup container in one hand, Patty’s hand in his other, and they walked back to their house. The swishing of the two syrup containers on their bee suits, punctuated by the squishing of Paul’s syrup filled right shoe, became the musical prelude to their beekeeping adventures.

To be continued . . .

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Our library has been permanently moved to the Whelden Library in West Barnstable. This includes a select number of books and videos.  This will make them available to all via the CLAMS system.

There will be a list included in the Bee School text for 2009.

Duplicates of the books and videos will be available for sale at the December meeting.

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Make sure there is enough ventilation to allow excess moisture to exit the hive.  Also, make sure the cover keeps out any rain or snow.  Moisture causes more harm than cold does; it causes hypothermia of the bees, and they will die.

If we get any amount of snow, be sure the hive entrances are cleaned off so that the girls may  take their cleansing flights once the sun comes out and the temps climb into the 40’s.

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Websites of Interest
 Member Julie Lipkin forwarded the following site to us. Very interesting!

In addition to this, the President of the Middlesex County Beekeepers Association was telling us that he has been providing bees to Raytheon, where they are being trained to sniff baggage at airports. How ‘bout that!

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Donald Smith of Wellfleet called to tell us that he has approximately 100 used and new supers, both deep and shallow, for sale, plus a four-frame extractor. They have been stored and are all in good condition. Don can be reached at 508-349-2516

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Fondant Candy Recipe
Microwave Recipe (feeds 1 or 2 colonies)

  1. In a 1 quart or larger microwave dish, thoroughly mix 1 & ½ cups granulated sugar and ½ cup light corn syrup. No water.
  2. Microwave on high, stirring every few minutes until the mixture is clear and bubbles become thumbnail size (about 10 minutes). Stop immediately if the mixture starts to brown. A wooden spoon Is very effective for stirring, as it can be left in the dish during cooking.
  3. Pour into a mold made from cardboard or a container lined with paper to cool. The candy will become brittle and can be slipped on top of frames where the bees will consume it.

Stovetop Recipe (makes nine 5” x 6” pieces)

  1. Mix 5# granulated sugar, 1 pint corn syrup, 1 & 1/3 cups of water in a large pot.
  2. Hold over medium heat to 240 d on a candy thermometer. VERY IMPORTANT TO HOLD THE 240 F.
  3. Stir only occasionally, it takes a while.
  4. At 240 , place the pot in a sink of cold water.
  5. Change the water a few times.
  6. Beat with a mixer, cooling the mixture to 190
  7. Pour onto greased (Pam) cookie sheets to ¼ inch thick
  8. Cool and slice into patties

back to top Last updated 12/01/08