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Buzz Words - December 2014

December Meeting
We look forward to the Holiday Fair at our next bee club meeting at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at the West Barnstable Community Building in West Barnstable. Vendors will be selling bee-related products as well as other locally made arts and crafts. This is a great opportunity for some holiday gift shopping! Also, if you have a local product you would like to sell there is still space available. Contact me at to reserve your spot!

—John Beach

From the Board
As a devoted collector of gee-whiz information, I was delighted recently to read a New York Times article about what happened when scientists poked their noses into fusty old museum cabinets. Rummaging among thousands of specimens of desiccated bee bodies impaled on pins by long-dead naturalists, they found clues to the diminishing diversity of bee species. Their findings have particular relevance today as we try to match beekeeping practices to the needs of bees confronting diminishing wilderness, increasing pesticide use and the pressures of saturation pollination techniques.

The longer I keep bees, the more fascinated I become. Who among us could convey through dance where to find the best eats? Imagine working your entire life for the good of your colony! What about the wondrous capability to produce an elixir that increases life span fiftyfold? And how is it that honeybees can keep the wintertime hive temperature at precisely 93 degrees, not to mention figure out whose turn it is to guard the cluster perimeter and who gets to rest in the toasty center?

The findings of Tom Seeley still blow me away, and I remain convinced that honeybees are intellectually superior to humans. If we could reach consensus the way bees do, there would be no wars.

All of which is meant to encourage us to keep learning what we can from these amazing insects in our backyards and to stay tuned to the evolving research. Our club website has a reading list that includes a PowerPoint presentation on suggested websites and other resources. If we pay attention, the bees have much to teach us.

—Julie Lipkin

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin -

BCBA discussion group -

Tamar Haspel -

Facebook page -

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Dues and Membership
The approach of a new year means it’s time to renew your club membership. Please complete the form attached to this email and bring it to the next meeting, or follow mailing instructions. (Note that dues are now $20 per household.)

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Beekeepers Ball
The BCBA board of directors has agreed to set up a feasibility committee to explore the possibilities of an annual Beekeepers Ball. The tentative date for the first event would be September 2016.

The purpose of the ball would be to have a fun intersection of education and entertainment, along with raising awareness of the state of the honeybee, raising funds, and celebrating the honeybee. It would be an event with appropriate festivities to attract all age groups.

If you are interested in joining this committee, please contact Kalliope at 617-962-3315 or

—Kalliope Egloff

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Quick Trick
Feeding our hives is an annual challenge. What is best? When to feed? How much do they need? And then weather enters the picture. If the weather remains above 40 degrees F, the hive will consume more stores. But if there is an extended cold spell (as predicted this winter), the bees will not be able to reach their winter stores. They starve with honey merely inches away, as the bees will not break cluster in the cold.

Many of us have found the mountain camp sugar sheet an effective way to supplement the stored winter honey. The spread of granulated sugar nearly covering the frames gives the hive a better chance of survival, as the carbs are within easy reach. One disadvantage I discovered is when replacing the sugar sheet during the winter, a bit of wind and one pair of hands can really be frustrating. And usually a full sheet of newspaper is not needed. How to solve this dilemma? MDA Splitter sells a sugar brick which I thought might be a helpful winter food source. I found a way to make a nice, solid 1" by 1 pound sugar brick.

Take 2 cups of granulated sugar and stir in 3 tablespoons of cold water. (Or 5 pounds of sugar and 1 cup of water for 5 x 1 lb bricks). Stir, getting all the sugar wet, and then let stand for about half an hour. Then take a 25 oz square container (Stop & Shop entree 5 pk) and mist with a bit of Pam. Spoon the wet sugar into the container packing and smoothing well. Do NOT cover the container, but let it sit in a cool area (basement worked well). In 24 hours, it is a solid brick and pops out nicely. It can be laid carefully right over the cluster directly on the frames. No paper needed.

A dab of Honey B Healthy can be added to the water if desired. Come late January when brood rearing begins, pollen substitute or Megabee can be blended with the sugar. Until then, only carbohydrates are necessary. Try it! You just might like it!

—Claire Desilets

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IMP and Pollinators
The Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center hosted a in a live-streamed web event Nov. 12 titled “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Pollinators: What is the appropriate role for IPM on the issue of pollinators?” Panelists from the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Natural Resources Defense Council, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided an update on current issues surrounding pollinator health. View the web broadcast recording here.

—Leslie Lichtenstein

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Speaking of IPM...
I recently found a website,, claiming to keep the hive beetles out of our hives. It looks like a relatively easy installation system. If it can keep the beetle numbers knocked down to reduce the larvae eating the honey and possibly sliming the honey (if you don't extract it immediately), I think it would be a step in the right direction for another IPM (integrated pest management) tool to have in our hives. Check out the above website.

—Marte Ayers

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Fondant Recipes

Microwave recipe (feeds 1 or 2 colonies)

  1. In a 1-quart or larger microwave dish, thoroughly mix 1½ 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-by-6-inch pieces)

  1. Mix 5 pounds granulated sugar, 1 pint corn syrup, 11/3 cups of water in a large pot.
  2. Hold over medium heat to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. VERY IMPORTANT TO HOLD THE 240°.
  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 quarter-inch thick.
  8. Cool and slice into patties.

Mountain camp feeding – from Kelley Bee News (Nov 2011)

  • Use 1- or 2-inch spacer placed directly on top of brood box.
  • Add two sheets of newspaper directly on frames (leave one-third of frames exposed).
  • Mist paper with water spray or sugar syrup.
  • Dump 1 to 2 pounds sugar on paper and mist sugar to clump, repeat sugar and spray once more.
  • Misting sugar to clump will keep bees from carrying it out as a foreign material.
  • Condensation from cluster heat will be absorbed by newspaper.
  • If bees have not used all sugar by spring, use it to make first batch of 1:1 syrup.

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Did You Know
An industrious worker bee may visit 2,000 flowers a day.

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Recipe of the Month
Honey-Nut Christmas Cookies*

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
1½ cups chopped pecans, divided
1/3 cup plus ¼ cup honey, divided
1 teaspoon butter, melted
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place flour in a large bowl. Cut in cold butter and cream cheese until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Shape into two disks; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 325°. Place sugar and 1 cup pecans in a food processor; cover and process until pecans are finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in 1/3 cup honey, butter and cinnamon.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of dough to 1/8-inch. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-inch round cookie cutter. Place a teaspoonful of filling on the center of half of the circles; top with remaining circles. Press edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with remaining dough.

Transfer to greased baking sheets. Brush with remaining honey and sprinkle with remaining pecans. Bake 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 3½ dozen. Baked cookies may be frozen for up to 1 month.

* Recipe reprinted from

back to top Last updated 12/3/14