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Buzz Words - February 2009

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Bees, Bees, Bees
4. Cape Cod Horticultural Conference
5. Claire's Corner
6. Bee School 2009
7. The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
8. Library
9. News from Bee U
10. Tips
11. Annual Pollinator Plant Sale
12. Fondant Candy Recipe
13. Classifieds

The February Meeting will be on Tuesday, the 10th; 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149.  Featured speaker this month is a member of this year’s bee school, Jeffrey Eldredge, a mid-cape landscape contractor, and also an up and coming farmer who is starting a Community Sponsored Agriculture.  This last will be his topic. (A CSA is an agreement between consumers and the farmer where weekly orders of fresh vegetables are provided for an agreed upon fee. Some CSA’s require some member participation.) Come and learn more.

New members and registered Bee School members are urged to attend. It will give you a chance to meet some of your fellow members and perhaps find that a neighbor is also a beekeeper.


Meeting – Feb 10th
Lynn Heslinga is listed for nibbles. 
We could use another one or two plus someone for drinks.

From the President
   The Board of Directors is looking at making the B.C.B.A. a not-for-profit organization.  To this end, we need to add an item to our Articles of Incorporation.  In that light, we submit the following Article to the membership.  This must be announced twice in this publication and discussed at the annual meeting prior to a vote.      – George

   Article ( )   - Dissolution of the Association

If at any time, the Association shall dissolve, any Association assets or monies realized through the sale of the Association property shall be given to education and/or charitable organizations, as approved by the Board and voted on by the Association membership according to pertinent Internal Revenue Service regulations.

If this article is approved by a majority of the membership at the Annual Meeting in April, we can then continue work on our application for not-for-profit status.  This will enable us to seek grants for future projects such as queen-rearing, educational programs, etc.

Bees, Bees, Bees
If you need to order bees, please use the form included with this newsletter. We will again receive 3# packages of Italian queens from Georgia. The price this year is $68. per package, due by February 16th.

There are 3 dates available, and all are tentative. In fairness, we reserve the right to limit quantity orders to 15 packages per member. Our membership is now over 250 and we have a large bee school.

» Download Bee Package Order Form (pdf)

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Cape Cod Horticultural Conference
We have received a mailing from the Master Gardeners and Cape Cod Cooperative Extension regarding an all-day horticultural conference on Saturday, April 4th, featuring Mal Condon, William Cullina, and Alan Armitage.
For more info, contact Cape Cod Master Gardeners at 508-375-6700.

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Claire's Corner
Ushering in nearly four dozen new families is a daunting task – so much to relate as we steer them into a new hobby. May and bee arrival seems so far off as we brace for yet another snow storm. What tidbit should the February newsletter include to foster thought and reminders before the season is upon us?

As we were slipping and sliding on ice this past weekend while feeding a few hives, it occurred to us that with all the snow a drought just cannot happen this summer. Hmm, ice – water – water? “Water – Plain and Simple” by James Tew in the December 2008 Bee Culture came to mind. This is an excellent article on the need for water in our hives. It can be read by logging on to
Here are a few thoughts and beehive water facts. First the beekeeper must be a good neighbor and provide a continuous source of water from season beginning to end. If not diligent in this task, your girls will find a neighborhood site and set the scene for confrontations. Bee as creative as you can, but do not let the source of water dry up. You will be amazed at how easily they find a pool of water. They are so clever that they can easily suck from a plant medium such as vermiculite if the need exists.
When using a birdbath, provide a stone or rock as a landing pad to prevent drowning. Those beekeepers in close neighborhoods could use a quail or chick waterer on top of the hive. If your area has a swimming pool or two, it might help to add a few drops of Honey B Healthy in the water supply to keep the girls at home.
The demand for water increases as the temperature rises in July and August. Cooling the hive and humidifying the brood area is critical at this time. Ponder the following beehive water facts listed in the article:
• Time for bee to load up one minute
• Normal time for water run 3 minutes or less (67%)
10 minutes or less (92%)
• Rest period between trips 2 to 3 minutes
• Water trips per day 50 (maximum of 100)
• One quart of water will take 800 bees working all day
• Daily water use per colony ranges from ½ pt to 2 ½ pints

Check out this article to help understand this critical necessity to your hive.

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Bee School 2009

Next Sessions are:

  1. Occupants of the Hive on either Monday, Feb 2nd, or Thursday, Feb 12th.
  2. Spring & Summer Management on either Monday, Feb 16th, or Thursday, Feb 26th
We welcome our 46 fledgling beekeepers and hope that they all find their new hobby to be as fascinating as we do.  They look to be starting 55 hives, as the orders placed with Brushy Mtn Bee Farm totalled over $13,000.

» View schedule

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The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
by Andy Morris

“Why did I ever agree to this?” growled Paul as he swerved to avoid a car that just passed him and then pulled right in front of him, slowing down.

“We agreed because we both work at home and we have more flexibility with our time than most of the other members of the bee club,” replied Patty. “The airport is the next exit, just as we get out of this tunnel. You might want to move over to the right so that huge truck doesn’t box you in.”

They were able to get into the airport, which happened to have a loop allowing them to drive around several times looking for the terminal they wanted. They had volunteered to pick up and host a guest speaker for that night’s club meeting. Patty was very excited about meeting the speaker and being able to get some first hand information while on the trip home.

“Which terminal is it, and what is her name again?” asked Paul.

Patty sighed. “Ok. One last time, her name is Erin Gobraugh, and she is flying in on that new airline from Ireland, Derry Air.”

True to the way they functioned, they located the terminal they wanted, were able to park the car and get to the luggage pick up in plenty of time. After a ten-minute wait, the passengers began to arrive down the escalator. Erin was not a challenge to spot. She had a backpack covered with embroidered bees, and she was involved in a heavy conversation with a young couple, and their daughter, about the hazards and benefits of beekeeping. As the baggage carousel began to turn, disgorging the passengers’ luggage, Erin handed the couple a business card.

Patty caught Erin’s eye. There seemed to be a moment of instant recognition, almost as though they sensed each other. Paul thought immediately of worker bees and the pheromones that are at work within the hive.

“You must be Erin Gobraugh,” said Patty, her hand extended. “We’ve read all of your work that we could find on the Internet. It is great!”

“Yeah,” said Paul.

“And who might the two of you be?” There was a hint of a lilt in the question, as the two women shook hands.

“This is my husband, Paul, and I’m Patty.”

“Very good!! Paul ‘n Patty! One of the subjects I intend to speak about to the gathering this evening,” grinned Erin. Paul just stood there with furrows in his brow, and Patty characteristically tilted her head as she did whenever she tried to grasp a concept just out of reach.

During the trip to their house, Paul constantly muttered and groaned to himself as he negotiated the rush hour traffic. Patty tried to not be a pest with her questions, but this, she realized, was a once-in-a-beekeeper’s-career opportunity. Erin, who invited any and all questions, insisted that she had had plenty of sleep on the plane, and didn’t mind Patty’s enthusiasm.

As they opened the front door, laden with luggage, the telephone was ringing.
“Who ..!!??” Paul uttered as he reached for the phone. “Hello?” he growled, short of temper and still stressed out from the driving he had just done.

“Is this a bad time?” It was Augusta Wind. “The paint is dry on the equipment and I thought I’d bring it over today. And, I want to take the two of you to dinner to thank you for your kindness. Is a good time for you?”

“Could we call you back? We’re just getting back from the airport with tonight’s guest speaker, you see. Gotta have some coffee and down time before we make any decisions,” replied Paul.

“Who is that?” called Patty.

Paul put the phone to his chest and answered, “It’s Augusta. She wants to bring over the finished equipment and take up out to dinner as a thank-you. What should I tell her?”

“Here, let me have it,” said Patty as she took the phone. “Augusta, I’m so glad you called. We’ve just returned from the airport and will be sitting down to dinner quite soon. Why don’t you bring over the equipment and join us for dinner?” She made a face at Paul as he rolled his eyes in protest. He was tired and could have used an adult beverage and some time to look over today’s newspaper. As Patty extended her arm and made a sweeping gesture with her hand, Paul, getting the message, exited to the living room to see if Erin needed anything.

Dinner was over and the four of them were sitting in the living room, relaxing, when Patty asked Erin about something she said on the way back from the airport. “Erin, why did you react when I told you our names when we first met?”

Erin just smiled and said, “Sometimes it works out that I just have to go where I’m led. I wasn’t sure what I should use as my topic this evening. I’ve been doing these speaking engagements for so long that they tend to meld together. When you told me your names, I knew then what I would focus my topic on; Nutrition in the Hive.”
“Time to go,” said Mr. Punctual. “We don’t want to be responsible for holding up the entire bee club the first time we have some responsibility, do we?”

To be continued . . .

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A select number of books and videos from our library has been permanently moved to the Whelden Library in West Barnstable.  This will make them available to all via the CLAMS system.  Regular Library Rules apply.

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News from Bee U
In January, 2008, I volunteered to run a bee club for students at the Mattacheese Middle School in West Yarmouth.  The Walter Kelley Bee Supply Co. generously donated a hive to the project and 7 students spent one hour per week during the winter nailing the supers, assembling the frames, installing the foundation and painting the exterior. We reconnoitered the school property and identified an eastern facing slope in the woods next to a pond as good spot to set up the hive.  Having done that, on a cold Sunday last April we installed our first package of bees, fed them syrup, and hoped they would survive! And they did!   With a donation of veils from the BCBA, we were able to attend to the girls throughout the spring and search for the queen (which we never found!). However, we were able to identify brood  which told us she was in there some where and doing what she was supposed to do. 

This fall I was able to secure a grant from the Barnstable County 4H to purchase supplies for the club including materials to make candles and balms, as well as a few full bee suits for the students.  During this winter we are busy making bee related products and looking forward to working with hive come warmer weather.  We are taking pictures of our activities and are creating a slide show to share with other students at school.  Our club members are becoming the resident bee experts at school.

This is a very exciting activity for a number of reasons.  Obviously, to acquaint students with the ins and outs of bee keeping is important and hopefully will make them part of the next generation of beekeepers.  More importantly however, from my point of view, is the personal impact it is having on individual students.  For some members, school, for a variety of reasons, has not always been a place of great success and gratification. Instead, it has tended to hi-lite what is hard for them. This project, on the other hand, has for many of them show cased some of their hands-on skills and “nature” intelligence that are unfortunately not always tapped within the school curriculum.  In recognition of what they are learning, they have named the club Bee U.

Watch for updates in future Buzz Words. With a little luck we may be talking about our first honey harvest before summer vacation.  But even if we don’t, we will still have reared some new prospective beekeepers and helped them discover some skills they may not have known they have!  --  John Beach

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Make sure there is enough ventilation to allow excess moisture to exit the hive. Also, make sure the cover keeps out any rain or snow. Moisture causes more harm than cold does; it causes hypothermia of the bees, and they will die.

If we get any amount of snow, be sure the hive entrances are cleaned off so that the girls may take their cleansing flights once the sun comes out and the temps climb into the 40ís.

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Annual Pollinator Plant Sale
Saturday, May 16, 2009, from 9:00 – 12:00, at the Meetinghouse Farm, Rt. 149, West Barnstable.

If you cannot be there during those hours, feel free to ask for someone to pick up your goods or drop them off yourself at the Farm the night and morning before the sale.
If you are making your plant starts, please plan on putting a few more seeds in pots in anticipation of our annual plant sale. Those divided perennials are hot stuff, too!!

Proceeds benefit the further education of now and future Beekeepers as well as funding Bee research.

Interested in helping? Please call Jan @ 508-4238-6949 or email

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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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Former member Frank Smith of Onset has a few gently used equipment items for sale at half the catalog price. You may reach Frank at 508-291-2911 for more info.

Arnie Howe has available a form for making concrete hive stands. 508-428-9742

back to top Last updated 01/31/09