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Buzz Words - December 2012

The December meeting will be Tuesday, the 11th, at 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building, on Route 149 in West Barnstable. This is our annual Holiday Market where member artisans come to sell their lotions, knitted items, wooden ware, beeswax candles. BCBA tees, honey candy and honeystix will also be available.  All future newbees and newly registered members are welcome to attend, perhaps meet someone from your neighborhood , make new friends, etc.

N.B.- If bringing your crafts to sell at the market, please bring your table.  The room now has only 2 tables for coffee and treats.  

As always, holiday sweets and treats are welcome.

From the President
I have been doing fishing for a lot longer than I have been doing bees.  And during that time I have accumulated far more rods, reels, lures and jigs than I will ever possibly use.  I still use several of the reels that my father used many years ago and have re-rigged them onto a few rods my neighbor gave me when he was cleaning out his shed a few years ago.  When I go fishing now, my gear is kind of a collective legacy from important people in my life.

As I was disassembling and cleaning up a hive that had died on me this past fall I realized the same thing was happening to my bee equipment.  I am accumulating more supers, frames, covers and whatever than I will probably ever use.  This has prompted me to start my own rather modest bee legacy.  I have a son-in-law who lives in Connecticut and who visited over the Thanksgiving holiday.  He has always asked about my bees and actually has donned a bee suit to visit my hives a few times, but he had never actually taken the plunge into bee keeping himself, until now.  When he left at the end of the holiday weekend his truck was full of many of the supers, frames, et al that I had accumulated in my cellar.  He appears to be an emerging bee keeper.  Why did I do this?  I guess I am paying it forward.  As others had passed the allure of fishing on to me I am hopefully creating a legacy of fascination with bees for the next generation.

I would be remiss if I did not mention John Portnoy of Wellfleet at this time.  Last spring he contacted me about some extra hives he had acquired from his sister and asked whether the bee club I run at a local middle school might use them.  I gladly accepted his offer and the donated hive now, to the delight and fascination of innumerable middle schoolers, houses a captured swarm behind the school.  Another well appreciated legacy. 

 I know there are many other stories out there of paying it forward, of creating a legacy out of a hobby, in this case a bee hobby.  Are you are the creator or the recipient of such a legacy? If you are, let me know.  These are stories worth sharing. 


Upcoming Meetings of Note
The next SABA seminar will be 3/16/13 in Albany.
Speakers will be Adam Finkelstein of VP Queens in MD, Karen Rennich of the Bee Informed Partnership and Jon Zawislak of the University of Arkansas.  Go to for more info. This program has been presented for many years, always has great speakers; and, usually, a chance to dine with the speakers on the previous evening at a local (Albany, NY) restaurant.

E.A.S. 2013 will be held August 5 to 9 at West Chester University, just outside Philadelphia.  If anywhere as good as was Vermont this past year, it will be a fabulous venue for all levels of beekeepers.  Keep your eye on the EAS website for info after January 1st.

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Recipe of the Month
Thanks to Eve Gabriel, author of the Fateful Fork

Almond Rice Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, ½ cup honey, 1 egg, 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract, 2 cup brown rice flour, 2 cup ground almonds
  • Preheat oven to 3250. Soften butter on warm oven as you gather the ingredients.
  • In a dry iron skillet, toast the almonds on medium heat until fragrant. Grind in a food processor.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, honey, egg and vanilla. Add the rice flour and ground almonds and stir briefly.
  • Drop by teaspoonsful onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave an inch between cookies. Bake until brown at the edges – about 8 minutes.
  • Cool on the cookie sheet a few minutes before transferring to wire cooling racks.
  • Makes about six dozen small cookies.

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Claire's Corner
Over the past several weeks emails have come in with the sad news that members have found their hive was lost. Why, they ask? What went wrong? The hive appeared strong before Hurricane Sandy arrived. Days later dead bees were piled on the bottom board, or, no bees remained in the hive; but honey and scattered brood remained.

If only we had more answers or could diagnose these losses. Some are quite evident. Such as bees with heads in the cells which points to starvation. Piles of dead bees could be due to robbing if no honey remains, or it could be a pesticide kill.

Weather alone is rarely a cause as the beekeeper can intervene with management techniques, but, it does seem odd that a number expired after the last storm.

So, it leaves us to ponder these fall losses. Some members reported high varroa counts in late summer which is a concern with 2012 Spring packages. So did their hives abscond due to the high count? Was a virus such as deformed wing present?

We hear and read that Nosema apis and ceranae are becoming more prevalent. These are not easily detected without a microscope and N. ceranae causes no visible dysentery. So did the spores overcome the gut of the bees in the hive?

Hives can survive for extended time in cold weather without a queen, but will succumb as the season progresses. Two weeks ago we sent samples to the bee lab and had hoped to hear the results for this newsletter. It has yet to arrive, however if you have 100 to 200 dead bees (dry) in a dead hive, you might carefully package them up in a brown paper sandwich bag, or follow directions online.

( One sample fits nicely in a 4” x 4” postal box. Mail to: Bee Disease Diagnosis, Bee Research Laboratory, Bldg 476 BARC- East, Beltsville, MD 20705. Include some history on the hive, varroa counts and how the hive died. Results will include varroa, trachea mite and nosema counts which might help with a diagnosis.

Plans are in the works to continue with our queen-rearing. We are looking for an area where we could establish and manage a number of hives with member assistance. Workshops will continue and nucleus colonies would be made by splitting these strong colonies mid –summer. Perhaps you might put a nuc box on your Christmas wish list in anticipation of a successful queen-rearing season on Cape Cod. The club has some well made nuc boxes in stock for$28. More to come on this subject.

Breaking News – if you are a TBH beekeeper, we hear that at E.A.S. in West Chester, PA on August 5 to 9, top bar hives will be featured in the apiary. Wyatt Mangum, author of the latest TBH text will be presenting. .

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Michael Palmer
Thanks so much to the BCBA and 3 other bee clubs for sponsoring a great talk in Pembroke by Michael Palmer on overwintering practices and queen rearing discussions. I was mesmerized by Michael’s knowledge, experience, passion and ease of translating it all to the group in such an understandable way.

I left hearing that same message that our own BCBA preaches: rear our own local, hearty strain of bees (Cape) and quit buying bees. His suggestion of using our local CLAMS library system for 'boning up' on queen rearing practices was one I've used before too much success. Using one’s own colonies to split and make increase is his ONLY way of sustaining his great number of active colonies.

His inspirational discussion had me walking away with the decision to leave less to chance and more to my own choice when it comes to the temperament of my colonies as well as limiting my % in winter losses. I used a suggestion of his to place a rigid piece of insulation inside the outer cover in addition to my usual wrap of black roofing paper to serve as both a wind break and as a solar magnet for those sunny days. Hopefully, combining prep for winter, ample food stores until the first flow, followed by the first hive Inspection to check queen as Winter temperatures wane, will result in fewer losses and the start to splitting strong colonies and rearing queens to stay ahead in avoidance of relying on buying Southern packages. -- Rebecca

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How Can the Public Help Honey Bees?

  1. Educate yourself on the dangers and risks with homeowner pesticides and chemicals. Whenever possible, choose non-damaging and non-chemical treatments in and around the home. Most garden and backyard pests can be dealt with without harsh chemicals, which many times are not healthy for the pets, the kids, or the environment. If you must use chemicals, do not over-mix or overuse.
  2. Get to know the honey bee. Unlike other stinging insects, honey bees are manageable, and are generally non-aggressive. Don't blame every stinging event on the honey bees. Many times, stinging events are from hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps.
  3. Understand that backyard plants such as dandelions and clover are pollen and nectar sources for a wide variety of beneficial insects, including the honey bee. Dandelions and clover are a unwarranted nuisance for many homeowners. The attempts to rid yards of these unwanted plants and have the "perfect" yard are sources for chemical runoff and environmental damage from lawn treatments. A perfect lawn is not worth poisoning the land.
  4. Know that beekeepers are on the forefront in helping communities deal with wild bee colonies in unwanted situations. Every township and community should welcome beekeepers. It is not the managed colonies beekeepers maintain that cause problems, but the unmanaged colonies. Every community should be able to rely on beekeepers and bee associations for dealing with honey bee related issues. Communities should not pass restrictive measures or ban beekeeping. Banning beekeepers means nobody may be around to help when help is needed.
  5. Support local beekeepers by buying locally produced honey and other beehive products.
  6. Plant a bee friendly garden with native and nectar producing flowers. Use plants that can grow without extra water and chemicals. Native plants are the best to grow in any region. Backyard gardens benefit from the neighborhood beehive.
  7. Consider allowing a beekeeper to maintain beehives on your property. In some areas, beekeepers need additional apiary locations due to restrictive zoning or other issues. Having a beekeeper maintain hives on your property adds to the overall quality and appeal of any country farm or estate.
  8. Attend and support beekeeper association events held throughout the year.
  9. Consider beekeeping as a worthwhile pastime and seek information to get started. More beekeepers translates into more voices being heard.
  10. Get involved with your community with such events as offered at the local environmental center and other agriculture and nature based programs. No doubt you will meet a beekeeper. Beekeepers are not just people who keep bees. They are part of your community and many love nature on all levels. Beekeepers give generously to affiliated programs, as they are all connected within the communities in which we all live.

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In an effort to lessen the amount of emails some board members receive, we would like to encourage members to join the new Google blog.  Healthy questions and comments would be more educational for all. Honeybees do not always follow the textbooks an beekeeping varies considerably across the Cape. Join at or follow instructions below and Dave will help get you on board.

Can’t go a day without wanting to talk about bees? Want to exchange information with other BCBA members between meetings? The BCBA now has a free, online forum where members can ask and answer questions, and talk about all things bee-related. All you need to access the forum is an email address. To sign up just email me at and let me know you’d like to be included.

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Tamar Haspel @

I thought you might be interested in this link from the Guardian: Bee study lifts lid on hive habits -     - Julie L.

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Seasonal Hints/Tips

  • Only solid carbs –either candy/fondant or mountain camp sugar sheets, IF your hive lacks sufficient winter stores.
  • Depending on the location of your hive – wind – you might consider a wind block or wrapping with tar paper.
  • Some of us will be adding the white plastic board under the bottom board, also for wind protection.
  • When we get snow, be sure to clear off the landing board so that bees can make cleansing flights.

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Certified Russian Nucs
There has been a request to include a section in the

Several of you have asked about purchasing RQBA " certified" Russian bees from me. Although I am a member of the RQBA and am now breeding Russian queens Warm Colors Apiary will not receive its USDA certification until late in 2013. I am bringing in a limited number of certified Russian nucs from Steven Coy's ( current RQBA president) apiary in Mississippi.

If you are interested they will cost $150.00 - all queens certified and I will personally help you select your nuc.

Dan Conlon, Warm Colors Apiary, So Deerfield, MA

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Rhonda Litwinowich has a manual plastic extractor, with a honey gate for sale. Approx 30” H x 18” W. It will hold two deep or shallow frames. The price is $50.00. Rhonda can be contacted at 508 896-0256.

Andy will be bringing club tee shirts at the next few meetings.  I had saved a photo, but am getting ruthless as the amount of saved innocuous material grows in this machines inner workings, so guess I deleted.

$10 each, check to B C B A or EXACT amount, please.

back to top Last updated 12/03/12