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Buzz Words - February 2007

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Holiday Market
4. Dana Stahlman
5. Claire's Corner
6. Errata
7. Fondant Candy Recipes
8. Andy's Ramblings
9. Package Bees
10. Library
11. Pollinator Plant Sale

Next Meeting -7:30 P.M., Tuesday, February 13th, at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149.  What is close to our heart? Well, the Queen of course, and she will be the subject of our February meeting. For our second and third-year beekeepers, we will walk through re-queening and splitting; and, let’s begin forming our strategy for the spring queen rearing project.

Susan Kelley will need help with goodies. Would you have a sample of a recipe you would like to share?

Bee Equipment
It is great to see such a large group of new beekeepers! We will be placing an order for equipment on the 12th of Feb. If any member wants to order equipment from Walter Kelly, Brushy Mountain, or Mann Lake, I MUST have your order NO LATER THAN Feb. 11. Email works (new email please note) or phone 508-833-9696 home. It is time for us to have a great bee year and bee ready. Thanks – Ed  (order form provided)

From the President
What can we say about January?  It was a nice mild beginning with daffodils coming up and buds on the trees. Then cold with gale force winds in the middle so I check my hives.  They were still standing, whew.  However, when I pulled out one of the "winter boards" which I use in place of the sticky boards, I found bee parts in one section. It is a dead hive, a mouse having lots of fun eating and messing up the hive or what mystery is going on it there.  What a disappointment that I just have to wait for warmer weather to peek (just in case the hive is alive).  How are your girls surviving? Good I hope.  There's not much to do now but wait for the 50-55 degree days to return to peek in them.  All I can do now is hive repairs and replace the older or broken combs with new foundation and have them ready to exchange with the combs that were emptied during this winter.  You should be replacing your old dark combs periodically for lots of good reasons.  One being it keeps the hive healthy.

Our beekeepers school is going great with about 30 "newbees" all enthusiastic and ready to learn about a whole new fascinating world of honey bees.  They are automatically members for the first year, so if you see a new face at the meetings, please introduce yourself and share your common interest.  -  Marte

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Bee School
Pre-registrants are welcome to attend all our regular monthly meetings (open to the public).  Current members who have taken bee school in the past are welcome to “re-attend” any or all bee school sessions. Speakers will need help to setup and someone to provide munchies. Please spread the word by posting the attached bee school announcement. 
» 2007 Bee School Schedule

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Dana Stahlman
Queen Project Sessions

Your Coordinator will need to plan at least three or four sessions for a viable queen rearing class.  This is mostly hands-on bee yard work with some classroom explanation of what the goals of the class are to be for each bee yard session.  Materials on queen rearing need to be provided to students at the first session and queen bee biology discussed.  The plan for the project should be explained and followed by instruction basics and to answer any questions students may have.

I find that beekeepers do not like to sit and listen for very long.  They like to get out and do some work in the bee yard.  This project will fit that to a tee.  What follows is the plan we used at the East Central Ohio Beekeeper’s Queen Project.  You will need to adjust it to fit your own requirements.

I also did not want to confuse students with a number of methods for raising queens and the different types of cell builders that are used.  I stuck to showing one kind of cell builder and one method of grafting queens.  We did have questions from students about the Jenter system and other non grafting methods.  These topics later became mini subjects during club meetings.  I would suggest that your club have a library with several books on queen rearing

First, most of the students were interested in raising queens but for one reason or another had some reservations about their ability to do it.  My first task was to explain that we needed to follow the rules provided to us by the bees.   We could use various methods to raise queens but we still must recognize that bees build queen cells.   Thus, we would have to do things that fit into their format.

We used three sessions.  These were scheduled in the following manner to follow the biological time-line which I call “queen time”.   Since we were using Doolittle’s grafting method, we were on a 12-day schedule.  I will explain that in the next newsletter.   Using the calendar for 2007, our schedule would have been something like this:

Session One

May 10  -- Thursday 6:30

Bee Biology  - Build Cell builder

Session Two

May 13  -- Sunday   2:00

Hands on grafting of larva

Session Three

May 22  -- Tuesday 6:00

Check results of grafting effort/ Harvest queen cells. 

 For the fun of it, we took some frames from a hive in session one and put them into a nuc without a queen.  They would raise queens the natural way (emergency queen cells).  We used this nuc to compare results with our own efforts.

The first session --   Class time ……….   1 hour
                                 Bee yard time ..….   1 hour

Equipment needed:  A very strong hive to use as a cell builder.  The way I put a cell builder together may differ from what you do. I used a single deep hive body and take 1 frame of brood from 6 different hives – try to use brood comb with no eggs but with young larva and capped brood cells.  I removed all bees from the frames removed from the hives – saves the trouble of accidentally transferring a queen from one of the colonies.   I also add one frame with a good amount of pollen in the center of the brood chamber. I then fed this hive with two division board feeders – each holding several quarts or more of sugar syrup and add three packages of queen-less bees to the cell builder hive.  One of the feeders is removed when we add the cell bar frame into the cell builder hive during the second session.  It is important to keep this hive well supplied with feed.    We harvest royal jelly to prime the queen cells from this cell builder (The bees will try to create emergency queen cells).   This hive is capable of producing 60 to 100 queens.   I generally use one cell builder for every 60 cells I graft.  I use this cell builder only one time.  When queen cells are harvested, I generally use the bees to stock additional queen nucs because each queen raised needs her own nuc.  You may have someone who uses a different system in building a cell builder hive and that should be okay because there are many methods used.  I had access to shaking my own bees to get the packages and nucs to build to hold all the cells I could create thus always requiring bees to stock nucs.  After the class, the cell build described above could also be added to a weak hive to make it stronger.

  • Bee Biology and student expectations were discussed in the classroom.
  • We set up a cell building hive in the bee yard and discussed the requirements for the cell building hive

Session Two   --  Bee yard   ---  2 hours
Materials needed:  
           Selected larva from an outstanding queen mother.  Frames with the larva must contain larva of the correct age.  The best larva to use are those less than 24 hours old.   Locating the selected stock is the responsibility of the club and coordinator.  Also needed are basic equipment such as a frame to put the cell bar into, grafting needles, warm towels to protect grafted larva prior to placement into the cell builder hive, etc.

  • Discuss any questions students had from reading the material handed out in session one.  Describe what grafting is and demonstrate harvesting royal jelly from the cell builder, grafting tools, etc.  Students then were given instructions and help on grafting technique and placing cells into the cell builder hive.  It would be good to have at least two grafting tables set up with at least two experienced individuals familiar with grafting larva.

Each student was given an opportunity to graft 5 larva into cell cups and these were placed in our cell builder after the cell builder was cleared of all emergency queen cells.   Following  grafting we discussed building nuc boxes and stocking them with bees for queen cells to be harvested at the next session.

Session Three  --- Bee yard   -- 1 hour

Students examined the cell bars placed into the cell building hive.  Those wanting to raise queens from the cells they grafted were required to bring nuc boxes with bees for each queen cell they wanted to raise.  (I had also grafted a number of cells for those who might not be successful).  Everyone who wanted queen cells would have them.  Usually most only wanted one or two.

Some students took queen cells home just to be able to show others what a queen cell looks like rather than try to raise a queen.  The idea was to prepare students for raising their own queens and show them how it was done.

We had follow up meetings during regular club meetings and individuals shared their thoughts and experiences.  This lead to many more questions and at least two members of the club were certified by the Ohio Department of Agriculture to raise queens for sale.

Next month:  Basic biology  --- The cell builder

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Claire's Corner
January’s meeting was a most informative program on how the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project is controlling the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus. Perhaps the most important tidbit that came out of the meeting was the prevention of standing water in our backyards, as mosquitoes breed in brackish water. Yes, the bees need that constant source of water for the hive; but, be diligent and keep it clean and fresh.

Following the mosquito meeting, we received a magazine in the mail touting the research on an organic mosquito repellant. The leaves of the Beautyberry (Callicarpa ameicana) are showing great promise in testing and a patent is pending.

This same magazine had a snippet on a search for biodegradable pots for nursery stock. The plastic pots are fast filling the landfills and we desperately need a material that will break down and decompose readily. Research is focusing currently on feathers, a waste byproduct of the poultry industry. Compounds in feathers contain nutrients useful to the plant and a keratin protein for durability. The goal of the Horticultural Research Institute is to develop in the next 3 years, a container that will survive life in the nursery and then decompose in your home compost pile or local landfill. Now that is recycling!

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  Our "newbees" might be interested that when I was in Paris I found that there were beehives in the Latin Quarter in the Luxembourg Gardens (Rucher de Luxembourg). There is also a beekeeping display of old log & skep hives.   Henri Hamet founded the first French bee school there in 1856 with an apiary of 20 Langstroth hives teaching about "bee space". In that first year the bee school had 70 students, and the next year it had 500! There is still a bee school that is run there every spring just as we run one here. So they are following in a grand tradition!
Leslie Lichtenstein

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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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Andy’s Ramblings
Thursday night (first night of bee school-Ed.) certainly brought back some good memories. It was the first evening of Bee School and I was again involved with teaching the class. Standing there, in front of those twenty-five wide-eyed faces, behind which were souls full of questions, wonder, confusion, anticipation and trepidation, brought me back to my past, where every year for twenty-eight years I stood before a group like this on the first day of school. At first, I was just as nervous. The advantage I had over them was experience. I had been through that first day before. I hope the feelings these new students were having remain with them for many years. I hope they do not become jaded or feel frustrated toward keeping bees. I hope that every time they open (each of) their hive(s) they feel the excitement they first felt, a touch of trepidation, a lot of wonder, and a smidgen of respect for this wonderful hobby.

I had talked with Ed (Osmun) the day before and confirmed when he would be arriving to begin setting up for the class. We agreed we would arrive at 7:00. I decided to get there a little early.

When I turned into the parking lot of the Whelden Library on Lombard Ave., Paul and Claire were already there, unloading their van. They had brought the books and videos from the Club’s considerable library they thought would be pertinent to new beekeepers. They also brought the beverages, cups and other sundry things. Ed arrived shortly thereafter, as did our Club President, Marte.

As we were rearranging the furniture and unfolding the adult chairs (the classes are held in the children’s section of Whelden), people began to arrive. I had the impression that we might have about a dozen new students, and perhaps a few veterans who wanted to monitor the classes. Imagine my surprise when we had a count of twenty-five students.

Marte started everything off, introducing the basics of the Club’s operations. Claire followed with more information. Then two “NewBees”, Jackie Connor and Mary O’Reilly, quickly became the highlights of the evening by briefly retelling some tales of fascination and woe from their first year’s experiences in beekeeping. Their enthusiasm and excitement toward keeping bees was contagious. The new students drank in every word spoken, and applauded when they were finished.

Next came Ed and me: two “larger than (we should be) life” beekeepers. Our job was to introduce the basic equipment to the students. If you remember that class from your time in Bee School, you know just how confusing it was. We, as somewhat experienced keepers of bees, use terms and throw around jargon the same way we dig into our hives, with a certain amount of casualness. It is a humbling experience to be required to “tone down” and clarify everything so anyone, especially those with no knowledge, can understand…at least enough to feel they can ask questions.

I get the feeling these new students have the right stuff. I think we can trust them to be conscientious and caring toward their bees. I think I saw some potential committee volunteers, maybe a librarian or two, and a treasurer. Guess we’ll see.

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Package Bees
Order forms for bees will be available at the February meeting. First delivery date from Wilbanks Apiaries could be as early as April 6th.  We will need to know your needs as soon as possible in order to firm up our order.

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We are desperate for videos for our 31 “newbees”. If you have a copy of “A Year in the life of an Apiary”, (big green, two-tape one), please return it to the next meeting, or mail it to us at P O Box 808, E Sandwich, 02537. There are four copies out there that are way overdue.

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Pollinator Plant Sale
Keep Saturday, May 19th, 2007 in mind as those seed catalogs begin to trickle in. Burpee was the first to arrive. There is always a demand for a good tomato!

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