Current Newsletter
Archived Newsletters

Buzz Words - December 2015

The next meeting of the club is Tuesday, December 8th, at 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable. This month, the holiday fair replaces the December monthly meeting and takes place at the usual location and the usual time. To date we have 17 exhibitors selling various items including honey, candles, lotions, knitting, cards, pictures, ceramics, wooden crafts and much more. Please come, enjoy the festive atmosphere and get some great handmade holiday gifts from local artisans. If you would like to exhibit, please email me at to reserve a spot. There is no cost to exhibit but you must bring your own table.

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast”. That line was written by Alexander Pope a philosopher and poet of the early eighteenth century in a work titled “An Essay On Man”. In today’s more sensitive and neutral literary world it would probably be retitled “An Essay On Persons”. While there is no historical evidence to indicate that Pope was a beekeeper, in addition to his diverse interests and talents, his line could be considered a credo for all apiarists in the twenty first century. Hope is an essential ingredient in the art, science, cult (?) of keeping bees. Throughout all aspects of the process of beekeeping hope is common thread that we all experience from the first hive construction and package installation through all the seasons of the year. It ebbs and flows with the changes in the weather, nectar flows, drought, rains and the whims of New England weather. We hope that the new colony will get established, hope that it won’t swarm when it does, hope the flying weather is favorable during the brief nectar flows, hope we get a harvest of honey, and the biggest hope that we can get the colony through the winter.

When the winter, the parasites, swarms or other unknown hazards result in the disaster and disappointment of lost colonies, the beekeeper is required to retreat, regroup and draw an entire new allocation of hope to give it yet another go. In the midst of this cycle of emotions we also start considering the deeper existential question; “How did I get so concerned and involved with the health and welfare of a large bunch of bugs in a box?”

While hope is a necessary quality for a beekeeper, experience teaches us that attention, diligence, hard work and perseverance are also necessary for a successful outcome. Despite the many threats to their existence the bees are amazingly resilient creatures that manage to cope with all manner of challenges and still survive. For successful beekeeping, as opposed to “having bees”, survival is not enough. Being a beekeeper requires an ongoing effort to monitor the colonies, pay attention to detail and work at being their ally and advocate in contending with the myriad of threats they face. Strange as it might seem it does become a joint effort, an aspect non-beekeepers would find puzzling.

The Barnstable County Beekeepers Association provides a unique forum for “The Hopeful” to gather with kindred spirits and take advantage of the experiential learning (a high toned term for learning things the hard way) of other beekeepers. One of the best assets available is the Cape Bee Project. This has been an on-going endeavor to raise hardier queens and colonies to better cope with the climate here on Cape Cod. Since most of the packages we get are from the more temperate region of Georgia the bees are not as naturally adapted to Northern winters. This is often reflected as a factor in colony losses over the course of that season. The project is an attempt to raise queens and bees from stock that have survived the winters here.

Claire Desilets, Lynn Heslinga and George Muhlebach, along with a cadre of dedicated volunteers have been carrying the major share of the work on the project hives located at the Cape Cod Organic Farm in Barnstable. They’ve coped with all the work involved with beekeeping and hive maintenance raised exponentially to a factor of ten to fifteen hives. The project is very labor intensive. There are presently ten hives and two nucs that have been prepared for the winter and invested with great hope for a successful result next spring.

The project is a great learning opportunity for our members. When spring arrives there will be a renewed need for volunteers to help with the work. For those interested in expanding their knowledge of beekeeping it represents the chance to work with some of the most experienced and knowledgeable members in our club. In the course of working with these folks there is the capability to observe a wide variety of colonies and recognize the differences in health, strength and development in the colonies at the farm. It’s great on the job training for all levels of beekeepers.

Of particular interest and emphasis in the project is the creation of new nucleus colonies. The techniques of making nucs represent a fairly simple and very practical way to protect and expand the colonies that we spend considerable money on to acquire. It represents a good way to protect against swarming and a means of getting a free second colony. Making nucs from overwintered hives also increases the gene pool of hardier bees to help reduce colony losses. It’s an investment in the future of beekeeping on Cape Cod Here’s hoping that your over winter colonies are successful, your new packages prosper, and that you take advantage of some great learning opportunities next spring and summer.

—Brian O'Donnell

back to top


Julie Lipkin -

BCBA discussion group -

Tamar Haspel -

Melissa Caughey -

Facebook page -

back to top


Available at “app store” Bee health-**

Will help identify diseases and symptoms, and provide diagnosis and treatment options. It is developed for iOS and Android platforms.

back to top

That is the title of an article in the October Bee Culture Magazine written by Michele Colopy, Program Director for The Pollinator Stewardship Council. Part of the first paragraph reads: There has been much ado about that new hive on the market making honey harvesting "easier."

What was astonishing was how those entrepreneurs by-passed a small business loan process, and got prospective customers to purchase a product before it even went into production. The astounding fact is these entrepreneurs raised $12M from beekeepers and beekeeper "wanna-bees who probably shouldn't be." Researchers and the nonprofits that support honey bee and native pollinator researchers are dumb-founded. Think what $12M dollars could do for bee research. Think how $12M dollars could make real changes for all honey bees? As I read along I too was astounded, surprised and enlightened by the article. Michele goes on to state that National and State beekeeping groups would love the support of beekeepers for their local and national research. Her organization would love to raise $500K for their Hive Tracking Project which will analyze the real-world pesticide load honey bees are experiencing.. Other research examines single active ingredients in pesticides, yet that is not the real-world of our honey bees. They have a number of other projects they support and are involved in developing.

In trying to shorten this "report" I hope I am giving it the credit it needs. It takes beekeepers to support beekeeping research. $670 (the cost of the new-fangled hive) makes an impact in support of a research of your choice. The article was an eye-opener for me. If you have the copy, please take time to read this article.

—Marte Ayers

Why do bees hum?
(answer at the end of the newsletter)

—Shared by Peter Cooper

back to top

The Beekeepers' Ball
The BCBA has joined the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, visit to review what that means for you! It’s a beautiful facility, with hundreds of events every year. I encourage you to participate. The Beekeepers’ Ball 2016 will be held there.

The next Beekeepers’ Ball 2016 committee meeting will be held on December 9 at 7pm in Yarmouth Port. If you are interested in playing with us, email me your interest. If you cannot make the meeting but would still like to participate, email me and we will work out how you are able to play, albeit remotely.

Update: 4-H will be issuing a “Pollinator Challenge” for the 2016 Barnstable County Fair! The exhibits will be used at the BB2016. Exciting!


back to top

Much has been written of the potential of the wax in your hives to be a haven for pesticides. Replacing the brood foundation every 3-4 years is appropriate for this reason and because the cells become smaller due to the buildup of the pupal skins. The December issue of Bee Culture just arrived and there is a short article you might find interesting on “ditching the foundation”. It is attached on 2 pages. Consider trying it on a few frames or if you need to replace any damaged comb or comb with too many drone brood cells.

—Claire Desilets

back to top

Nice to know other professions are looking out for our pollinators:
—Shared by Claire Desilets

According to bee researcher Maryann Frazier, the Varroa mite, a parasitic mite that feeds on the blood of adult bees and on the brood, is the main thing that’s been wiping out honeybees since the 1990s. “These bees will bite the legs and chew on the mite,” Berta says. “If they bite a leg off of the mite, the mite will bleed to death. So the bees are actually fighting back. That’s the type of genetic line that we’re after right now.” Read more here.

With scientists unable to solve the great honeybee die-out, the search for alternate pollinators is on—and killer bees are proving the most resilient, and terrifying, of the bunch. Read more here.
—Shared by Melissa Sanderson

back to top

When serving sliced apples and pears for an appetizer, instead of brushing with lemon juice, mix up a cup of water and add 2 tablespoons of honey. Combine in a bowl and let fruit sit in it for 30 seconds. Drain for a few minutes and arrange with your cheeses. Barely a hint of sweetness but flesh stays nice and white for a number of hours.

—Claire Desilets

back to top


  • Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including water.
  • In order to produce the 2,000 eggs she lays each day, a queen bee must eat about 80 times her own weight, the equivalent of a 12-year-old eating about 6,400 pounds of food a day.
  • A rock painting in Valencia, Spain, circa 6000 B.C., provides the earliest record of beekeeping.
  • The pollen basket, by which bees transport pollen on their hind legs, is also known as the corbicula.
  • Honeybees are the only bees that die after they sting.

—Shared by Julie Lipkin

back to top

Why do bees hum? Because they don't know the words.

back to top

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.

back to top

Recipe of the Month
Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples & Walnut
Makes 8 Servings

2# pkgs Brussels Sprouts
2 Granny Smith quartered thinly sliced
6 tbsp EVOO
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c chopped toasted walnuts

Slice from top to core, cutting Brussels sprouts in half. With flat side down, cut lengthwise into very thin slices. Toss to separate shreds. Add sliced apples. Mix dressing in separate bowl, pour over salad, add walnuts. Serve immediately.

—Shared by Marte Ayers

back to top


back to top Last updated 12/1/15