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Buzz Words - February 2012

Tuesday, January 10th,  7:30 p.m., West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149 & Lombard Rd, West Barnstable.
Topic – Making Nucs to Prevent Swarming ond Offsetting Losses, queens for those nucleus colonies, and more on good hive nutrition; presented by Everett Zurlinden, Past President, Rhode Island Beekeepers Association.

From the President
Bright, noise muffled by snow, cozy by the woodstove surrounded by tried and true seed catalogs I coalesced my garden dreams.  Plotting and planning the space that will become a jungle riot of colors and shapes. Side by side in chaotic order sharing attributes, each profiting by the interaction; the flowers more brilliant the vegetables tastier. This winter day with its annual ritual has become treasured, the uncommon mildness of the season rendering it a rarity.

So, the seeds have begun to arrive, the buckets of soil to start them in form a brigade in a warmish part of the house. The days are getting longer enough that starting at least the onions, leeks and shallots is imminent.

Though not in full anticipation of spring’s mantle, I cautiously remind you that the Pollinator Plant Sale is scheduled to come hurtling towards on the nineteenth day of May.

Bringing plant starts, divisions, tubers and extra seedling trees to sell is a low-key, low-pressure way to help support our education fund, the Meetinghouse Farms and add some hitherto unthought-of attribute to your own composition. Cheers, Jan

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

Disovery Magazine has compiled nearly 50 articles relating to issues and challenges facing bees. They can be read at:

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Due to the change requested by the membership, the dues year and payment now run January through December. This means that at the end of this newsletter you will find a form reminding you to pay your dues. Please use the form, whether you mail your dues in or bring them to the next meeting. If you want to be sure that payment has been credited, USE THE FORM!!!!! Dues are $15 per year.

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Bee School Begins
Thursday, February 2nd – Occupants of the Hive & Their Life Cycles
Thursday, February 16th – Spring and Summer Hive Management

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Upcoming Meetings
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Massachusetts Beekeepers Spring Meeting, watch our website for details

HONEY BEE DEMOCRACY author, Tom Seeley, PhD, of Cornell University
Sponsored by the Falmouth 300 Committee, the Barnstable County Beekeepers Assoc., the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, and the Marine Biological Laboratory
Friday, March 30, 2012 • 7:30 p.m. at the Falmouth High School
Saturday, March 31, 2012 • 11 a.m. at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Brewster

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Honey As Medicine
An apple a day may keep the doctor away but it seems honey really does keep bacteria away. Just as we use honey to soothe a sore throat, research now suggests that it could also help fight serious skin infections. People have used honey's antibacterial properties for centuries. Now, scientists are discovering just how it works—and that it might be even better than antibiotics. After surgery or a skin injury, many otherwise harmless bacteria that live on the skin can infect the wound site. One type of strep is particularly common and can lead to stubborn wounds that refuse to heal. But researchers found that honey—in particular that made from bees foraging on manuka flowers—stopped this strep in its tracks. The study is in the journal Microbiology. [Sarah Maddocks et al., "Manuka Honey Inhibits the Development of Streptococcus pyogenes Biofilms and Causes Reduced Expression of Two Fibronectin Binding Proteins"] In lab tests, just a bit of the honey killed off the majority of bacterial cells—and cut down dramatically on the stubborn biofilms they formed. It could also be used to prevent wounds from becoming infected in the first place. Hospital-borne infections are all too common, with more and more strains developing resistance to standard antibiotic treatments. So if the honey works in clinical trials, too, this sweet news will be all the buzz. -- Leslie


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What will 2012 bee season bring after this milder than normal Winter?
When I look over my colony notes on each hive, during this mild winter, I am impressed by how different each one is as far as which colonies are flying on 34 degree sunny days, which are extra thrifty on their honey stores, which still are ‘ fairly heavy to the heft’, which are lighter in weight and may have keeled over during one of the wind storms, and which seem to be really hungry and have depleted my ‘camp’ or ‘bee lasagna’ feeding that was placed on top of hives bars the month prior. We’ve all heard our fellow bee keepers relate how this winter, being so mild, may be depleting the honey stores more rapidly than prior years, within the colonies. Then, why do some colonies of the same race seem to be “extra thrifty” when it comes to depleting stores, as compared to its ‘sister hive’ next door? My friend Helen concurred and made a good observation: she’s concentrating most on those colonies which are thrifty in nature. Good idea, Helen.

When I take my first peek inside the hive, depending on weather, within about 6-8 weeks, I’m going to refer to my “over wintered” note taking to see which colonies were the hungry ones, which were the thrifty ones, which had small clusters, which had larger ones, to make my determination on which colony will become one of my breeder colonies. Through reading, observation, and demos with other bee keepers, I’m able to replicate those desirable races found in my ‘thrifty hives’ instead of importing an unknown new strain from the South.

Sure it takes a little time, and some note taking and math, but it’s like anything, if you set your mind to it, breeding a desirable strain of honeybees can be extremely fulfilling when you walk into your bee yard and see a gentler bee, hopefully generous to you at Summer’s end and thrifty during the Winter. Happy February… those stores……Rebecca

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Mountain Camp Feeding – from Kelley Bee News (Nov 2011)

  • Use 1 or 2 inch spacer placed directly on top brood box
  • Add 2 sheets of newspaper directly on frames (leave 1/3 of frames exposed)
  • Mist paper with water spray or sugar syrup
  • Dump 1-2# 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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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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Wintering Tip
Watch food stores with this unseasonal warm weather. Minimal stores are consumed at an ambient temperature of 400. With our 500 to 600 of late, (and if you have already wrapped) stored honey could be munched quite readily.

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This is an election year for our organization. All positions are open and can be “campaigned” for. Elections take place at our Annual Meeting  in April.  The nominating committee is made up of Marte Ayers and Paul Desilets. We will be contacting Officers and Directors  in the near future to see if they wish to remain active.  If anyone would like to sit on our board (board meetings occur quarterly), please contact either Marte or Paul at the next meeting. 

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Websites of Note

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Claire's Corner
January 21st, 2012, between shoveling and snow-blowing the 9 inches of white stuff on our driveway, we happened to peek at the observation hive. Ah, what a treat! Our queen was undaunted with the snow piled high on the entrance tube, as she was too busy laying eggs. And, now we see larva about to be capped. The season is upon us!

January 31st,500 , sunny, bees flying (again) and bringing in pollen thanks to the heath (or heather never sure which) in bloom and the bees are all over. Another clue emerges that the season is upon us and our queens are laying.

It all seems so early, that winter has yet to arrive. Well, the cue for our queen to begin her new season does not rely on the weather. The increase in day length stimulates brood rearing, so states the late Roger Morse in his “Complete Guide to Beekeeping” “Egg laying on the part of the queen starts in the whole country in late December” he also writes. This activity creates a critical time for the hive AND the beekeepers.

February 1st, 530 , 1:30 p.m. OMG! The bird feeders are covered with honeybees scrounging for a smidgen of protein. We treated them to a dusting of Megabee which they quickly discovered and began packing the fine powder into their pollen baskets. Beekeeping at its best!

Those overwintered workers now must take over the role of nurse bees. The stored honey and general weight of the hive will decrease rapidly. Our scale hive is now at 107# and has only been losing less than a pound per week. It should be interesting to see what future readings will reveal.

So, how are your stores holding up? With these above normal temperatures over the last several weeks, we would expect the bees to be starving. Not so at this end of the cape. Most of our hives are still quite heavy and still working on the mound of sugar that we fed 8 weeks ago. Perhaps those temperatures averaged close to the 40 degrees where honey bees consume the least amounts.

Keep those hives well stocked with carbs. As for pollen substitutes, we plan to start feeding this in late February when more larva means more mouths to feed and, hopefully, more mild days will enable more cleansing flights. Remember, the higher the sugar content of the pollen patty, the larger the appetite and quicker disappearance with fewer chances for small hive beetles to leave the cluster and lay eggs. Once we start feeding these substitutes we cannot stop until local pollens (swamp maple, skunk cabbage and dandelions) are available. Crocus and snowdrops help, but are not an overwhelming source.

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Hive Equipment
I have mentioned in the past issues that we do have some equipment not on the list that I send out, due to donations, no pick-ups, etc.  Some of these are cone escape boards, Boardman feeders, Hive-top feeder (inserts only, no box)

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GOT HONEY???? NEED JARS????? Call Ed Osmun, 508-802-0509 to order your glassware. Ed has ½, 1 & 2 pound Classic Honey Jars in stock. Sold in case lots only.

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