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Buzz Words - February, 2006

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Meetings of Interest
4. Bee School 2006

Pollinator Plant Sale

6. Claire's Corner
7. The Osterville Comment
8. Missing/Overdue Videos
9. Andy's Ramblings
10. Bits and Pieces
11. Cleaning Leather Gloves
12. News Release
13. Fondant Candy Recipes
14. Classifieds

Tuesday, February 14th, 7:30 P.M. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149. We will keep you in suspense as we have two possibilities, both topics laden with info. We hope to have an arborist speak to us on flowering trees and shrubs so that we may better understand the nectar flow on Cape Cod. The alternative will be a round table discussion with members explaining their techniques on re-queening, finding the queen, and building nucleus colonies

From the President
Happy February all! A big welcome to all the new Bee School participants and a big thanks to all those involved in putting on Bee School. Bee School would never be possible without the dedication and hard work of a handful of people who come through year after year to share their experience and their stories for the benefit of new beekeepers.

Well, we made it through January without being snowed in. This is rather a mixed blessing for those of us trying to winter over bees. With the warmer weather the bees will be more active and require more food. Be sure to heft your hives to check the stores of honey left and think about using some fondant candy (recipe in this month’s Buzz Words) to supplement. Here’s looking forward to a good year.


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Meetings of Interest
If looking for some good information, and don’t mind traveling a bit, the following meetings are sure to be interesting:

Saturday, March 18th, at the Knights of Columbus Hall, in Leicester, MA, the Worcester County Beekeepers are hosting Jennifer Berry, Apiary Research Coordinator at the University of Georgia. Jen is a great speaker, a favored presenter at the E.A.S. conferences, and this year’s E.A.S. President. Her topics are “The New World of Beekeeping” and “Queens and their Drones”. Her presentations begin at 9 A.M.
There is no charge for this meeting. For more info, go to:

Saturday, March 25th, at the Univ of Albany, Uptown Campus, S.A.B.A.’s Annual Spring Seminar will be held from 9 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Speakers will include Jim Bobb, President, PA Beekeeper’s, Larry Connor, WicWas Press, Tony Jadczak, Maine Apiary Inspector, Aaron Morris, SABA member & owner of Bee-L, and Robert Sheehan, CT meadmaker. Cost is $25 per person, or $40 per couple. This is always a very good program. Preregistration requested, Walkins add $5. Further Details, Anne Frey

Saturday, April 1st, the Massachusetts Beekeepers’ Association will host their Spring Meeting at the Topsfield Fairgrounds. A series of short presentations and demonstrations will segue into a Summer Workshop, on June 17th, to be held at the UMass Agronomy Farm in Sunderland. More on these meetings to come. We are planning to offer carpooling for these meetings in order to get you folks “over the bridge”. Much local (read MASS) knowledge will be available from commercial and backyard beekeepers.

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Bee School 2006
Remaining sessions at the Whelden Memorial Library, just across Lombard Ave from the W.B.C.B., on the second and fourth Thursdays of February and March. We remind all members in good standing that they may attend bee school sessions at no charge. Click here for the 2006 Bee School Schedule.

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Pollinator Plant Sale
The Pollinator Plant Sale Chair, Jan Rapp, has set Saturday, May 20th as the date for our 10th Annual Sale. Check out the new seed shipments at your favorite nursery, and peruse those catalogs piling up your coffee table. We need veggies, especially tomatoes, and lots of herbs.

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Claire's Corner
We cannot place enough emphasis on the importance of feeding as this mild winter continues. Our hives have nearly munched their way through more than 50 pounds of sugar candy to date. The bees have never needed this much, and much honey remains as stores. Another 4 to 5 weeks and we could start feeding sugar syrup to encourage the queen to lay more. And, speaking of laying queens, on Sunday, January 21st, we saw our observation hive queen laying eggs. With this weather, can you imagine how many eggs may have already been tucked into those cells? Roger Morse, of Cornell Univ, stated in his texts that even in upstate New York, the queen begins her new season as early as late December. The lengthening daylight is her cue to begin replenishing the hive with workers. Oh, we’ll just have to pull a few frames on the next 50 degree day!

There is a potential for a busy swarm season in May and June if this weather continues. Management is the key here. Frames of bees and brood need to be pulled early to prevent a neighborhood disaster. These frames can be added to a new hive or one needing bolstering. A fellow member may be in need of that frame of bees and brood for an easy $10 to $15.This is when a nuc box comes in handy, whether for traveling, or just starting a new hive. Good Management in May will help guarantee a healthy honey harvest in the fall.

The National Honey Board (NHB) newsletter, “The Nucleus” just arrived. To benefit us all, they are always searching for new markets and uses for honey. This is one for all you dog lovers. Squirt some honey on the dog’s coat as the dog is being shampooed. It leaves the coat with a nice sheen, feeling better and easier to comb. Humm, great for a squirmy two-year old?

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The Osterville Comments
In keeping with the guarantee of flowers every day of the year, erica (heath) is still blooming, hellaborus has buds safely hidden under its large green leaves, snow drops have started to bloom, winter jasmine and witch hazel are about ready to pop, the bees are showing some life which means it is time for a subzero freeze.

New bee keepers, Armstrong-Kelley Park is a 1/4 mile east of Osterville center across from U.S. Trust, (formerly State Street Bank) and Fancies (formerly E. E. Swift). We have 8.5 acres of gardens, green and water, a circulating brook, 1200 personalized planks (all lit all night) and free to the public and their pets. ??? Call Carl at 508-420-3635.

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Missing/Overdue Videos
In fairness to our 22 bee school participants and the entire membership, we are publishing the names of individuals who last signed out for videos that are severely delinquent. Please check your personal video libraries and get these back to us ASAP. If you cannot make the next meeting, mail to: BCBA, C/o Desilets, P O Box 808, East Sandwich, MA 02537

Gary Cremeans, Marguerite Donley, Kevin Doucet, Joe D’Urso, Bob Fraser, Carl Jacobs, Seth Jacobs, David Johansen, Nadine Laporte, Deb O’Connor, Bob Palmeiri, Cynthia Prapas, Peggy Spencer, Gordon Starr, Monika Vizgaitis, Bobby Waldron, Mary Walsh, Sheila Warren

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Andy's Ramblngs
Did you get Stung - Before I retired, I taught elementary school for 28 years. Through that experience I learned that to really know a subject, you must first teach it.

Every year I try to teach a course at our Bee School. The reason I do so is to remind myself of what it is that I must know in the coming year. The questions asked by the new students are the important ones, like feeding techniques, entrance reducers, queen excluders and “Do I get stung?”

It is sometimes the simple question that generates the important answer. When I am asked a question, by someone new to a field of study, like the students in Bee School, I must distill my answer down to the important elements, reduce it down to its simplest denominator and find comparisons to things familiar to the questioner in order to make the answer understandable and retainable.

For the same reasons, I try to spend time in the Bee Booth at the Barnstable County Fair. That time is spent explaining to a curious public why we do what we do.

If you truly want to know about beekeeping, please, offer to co-teach a course in next year’s Bee School and volunteer for a time block at the County Fair. Both experiences are worth the time.

By the time this note is published, it will be winter, when our thoughts turn to shoveling the front steps, scraping the ice off the windshield, and regretting not taking down the Christmas lights during the last warm spell.

But, have you thought about your bees? They remain hunkered down for the duration of the cold weather, at the mercy of Old Man Winter. Have you lifted the back of the hive to try and determine how much stored food remains? Did you put fondant candy on the top bars during the last warm spell? It’s not too late to put the candy on the hives. Pick the warmest day from the meteorologist’s forecast. (Which one can you trust?). Hopefully, you pick a day without any wind and with bright sun. Just don’t keep the hive open too long. Lift off the outer cover, pry up the inner cover, and slip in the candy. A little time making the candy, and a little time inserting it, can possibly save you the cost of a new package or nuc in April.

We mourn the death of a dolphin swept up on the beach, but we sometimes forget that our bees are living creatures also. When we lose a hive during the winter, we tend to blame that long winter, or the long, damp spring, or the mites, or the nosema infection. What about our neglect, our indifference, or our preoccupation with our lives? When we decide to become bee keepers, not bee “havers”, we create with the bees a contract that we will be conscious of their condition throughout the year, promising to do everything “humanly” possible to help them survive and perform their function of pollinating. Let’s do our best to help. I promise you the bees will thank you with an embrace when, in the warmer weather, they fly out to greet you.

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Bits and Pieces
Have you seen the latest Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List? Of note to our girls, due to the great nectar they provide are Black Locust, Autumn Olive, Purple Loosestrife, and Japanese Knotweed.

Do you know your GPS address? Recent emails from the Mass Pesticide Board have asked for GPS locations of hives. In case of an avian flu pandemic, the board is considering aerial spraying of wetlands. They do not wish to kill innocent honeybees and are looking for a way to map hive locations, primarily in Plymouth County for now. I believe they are coordinating with the Mosquito Control Boards because of their work in keeping the incidents of West Nile Virus and Equine Encephalitis at low levels.

At a recent meeting of the Board of Directors, the importance of establishing several committees became apparent as the number of members continues to increase. A few minutes in discussion at a monthly meeting would serve to greatly enhance our programs. Please consider lending a voice to one of the following groups – Membership, Program, Bee School, Barnstable County Fair, Hospitality, and Library. See Pete, Marte, or Claire at the next meeting.

Packages are still available, but once our allotment is sold out, that will be it. Nucs are available from Merrimac Valley Apiaries, but we still need a member to coordinate that order and the consummate pickup.

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Cleaning Leather Gloves
To soften your leather gloves before a new season, try this tip garnered from RI Beekeeper's January Newsletter.

  1. Wash gloves thoroughly with Lava (or other) soap. Rinse thoroughly and wring dry.
  2. Put gloves on and put Tincture of Green Soap on them and rub this into the leather as if washing your hands. (Green Soap can be had from a drug store - may have to be ordered)
  3. Don't rinse the soap off, but remove the gloves and lay out flat to dry. If the gloves are not pliable when dried, not enough green soap was used. Wet them and repeat step 2.

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News Release
New natural treatment kills varroa resistant to other treatments
Vita (Europe) launches Apiguard® in the USA
5 January 2006

American beekeepers now have a new treatment in their fight against varroa. Vita (Europe) Ltd has just received US approval for Apiguard®, an easily applied, herbal-based, anti-varroa treatment that is already proving highly effective in the fight against the mite in many countries across the globe.

Apiguard is very easy to apply, is entirely safe for users, consumers and bees and leaves no harmful residues. It is an ideal component of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program which is essential to control the development of mites that inevitably become resistant to any single treatment regime. Apiguard also helps to control tracheal mites and chalkbrood.

Apiguard is a sophisticated slow release gel that ensures the correct dosage of the active ingredient thymol, a naturally occurring substance derived from thyme, the well-known herb. It is extremely easy to apply: a small opened tray of Apiguard is placed on top of brood frames in the hive and replaced with a second tray when its contents have evaporated (usually after ten days). Bees' normal social behaviour (feeding exchange and cleaning activities) disperse the treatment throughout the colony.

Following this registration of Apiguard with the USA Environmental Protection Agency, use of the product can begin in individual States once they individually approve Apiguard.

Apiguard will be distributed in the USA by Dadant & Sons Inc

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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

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FOR FREE- Having a deck re-done, and we have lots of P.T. 2” x 6” lumber too good to throw away. Great for hive stands. Call Paul at 888-2304

If you have anything bee-related to sell, or wish to purchase, this is the place to list it. Call Paul at 888-2304 or email to

back to top Last updated 01/07/06