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Buzz Words - February 2015

February Meeting
Larry Dapsis, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension entomologist and coordinator of the county’s deer tick program, will discuss tick season and Lyme disease at the next meeting of the BCBA, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10, at the West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable. Donations of sweets and treats gratefully accepted.

From the Board
When I began to write this, the temperature outside was frigid. It was a week after the start of the New Year and all I could do was hope my bees were warm and had enough food to last until I begin to feed them in the spring. In February the queen is cozy within the cluster. She will begin to lay a few eggs each day. On rare mild days workers will take cleansing flights. It’s important to keep an eye on your food stores. With the days growing longer, and as temperatures warm, the queen steadily increases her rate of egg laying.

More brood means more food consumed. Bees that survive the cold temperatures often die of starvation. In February the hive will consume an average of 25 pounds of honey. I feed dry sugar and MegaBee, a high protein supplement whenever weather permits. Last week on a mild day, I briefly peeked inside the hive and I’m happy to report my bees are alive. So far so good. While there is not a lot a beekeeper can do hive-side this time of year, it’s a good month to get your equipment ready and in shape for spring. Check any frames, boxes and protective clothing that have been stored over the winter to see what needs to be repaired or replaced. If you are new to beekeeping, assemble and paint your hive; build your frames and choose the best, east facing, sunny location possible.

This is also a good time of year to brush up your bee knowledge with books and magazine articles and, of course, to attend bee club meetings. Bees should be ordered through the BCBA now for spring pick. The deadline to order is February 19th.

As are we all, I’m looking forward to warmer weather. I can’t wait to see the girls out and about drinking from my birdbath, foraging on the flowers and trees, going into the hive loaded with pollen and busily making that delicious honey! You go, girls!

Fingers crossed for an early spring.

—Lisa Sheehy

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin -

BCBA discussion group -

Tamar Haspel -

Facebook page -

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Bee School Classes for February
Thursday, February 5: Occupants of the Hive
Thursday, February 19: Spring and Summer Management
All classes begin at 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable

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Dues are Due
More than 200 of you have paid your dues. Thank you for supporting the association. And we have nearly another 200 who have not rejoined. Please pay attention to the comments when you receive Buzz Words and that will tell you which side of the fence you are on!

—Claire Desilets

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New Book on Bees
Club member Noah Wilson-Rich has written “The Bee: A Natural History,” just published by Princeton University Press. Wilson-Rich is founder and chief scientific officer of The Best Bees Co. “The Bee” provides a quick overview of the basics, whether your goals are to generate honey for consumption or simply to provide homes for new populations of bees.

—Noah Wilson-Rich

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Picture This
BCBA will be selling at monthly meetings a neat little book that can help the beekeeper identify various brood and pests. The Hive-Side guidebook, at 14 pages, is available through the club for $5. A description may be found at Claire will have the supply and, no, we cannot mail them.

—Claire Desilets

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Pay it Forward
As we welcome 47 new families into our beekeeping association, those who know their way around the apiary by now would be most welcome as mentors. So many of you are successful beekeepers, it would be great to share what you have learned and experienced. And think of it as increasing your learning curve, since no two hives are alike. Won’t you consider passing along your successes and failures and help someone else learn, too? We especially need mentors in East Falmouth, Marstons Mills, West Barnstable, Forestdale, Harwich and Brewster. Please … and thank you! Contact Claire at or Marte at

—Claire Desilets

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Winter Project
Looking for a project to keep you busy this winter and thinking what you might do to make your bee season easier? Well, I came across this little idea, which originally was printed in the December 1994 issue of Bee Culture. This smoker insert is meant to keep your smoker burning longer.

With quarter-inch hardware cloth, make a cylinder that is one-eighth inch less in diameter than the inside of your smoker. Add a bottom. Fill the cylinder with wood shavings to the top and tamp them down. Place shredded newspaper in the smoker and light.

Hold the insert over the flame until the shavings begin to smolder.

Then slowly lower the insert into the smoker while giving a few puffs of the bellows.

The smoke should last just under two hours with intermittent use.

—Claire Desilets

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Packaged Bees for 2015
The club still has a few packages of bees left for sale for members. Contact Claire at and she will forward the order form.

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UMASS Pollinator Symposium March 26
UMass will present a full-day educational program of research based information about native bees, honey bees and protecting pollinator health. Experts from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Maine and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station will share their expertise and latest scientific research on pollinator health, designing pollinator support plantings, neonicotinoids in agriculture and landscapes and bee-friendly landscapes. For complete program details, agenda, and registration information see landscape/events/pollinator15.

This symposium, sponsored by University of Massachusetts Extension, is for all sectors of the agriculture, landscape and grounds management communities. Four pesticide contact hours have been approved in all categories for this program, valid for equivalent categories in all New England states.

Contact Tina Smith at 413-545-5306, or Ellen Weeks at 413-545-2685,

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Did you know?
The Americas have no native honey bees – early pioneers first brought them from Europe.

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Fondant Recipes

Microwave recipe (feeds 1 or 2 colonies)

  1. In a 1-quart or larger microwave dish, thoroughly mix 1˝ cups granulated sugar and ˝ 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.

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Bees in the Museum
In the Design section of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, amongst all the fancy new 3-D technologies, I came upon, of all things, an object made by bees.

This “Honeycomb Vase” was made by 40,000 bees, cell by cell, in one week in 2006. Tomas Gabzdil Libertiny (Slovak, born 1979) oversaw the production of this vase through “slow manufacturing.” First he constructed a vase-shaped scaffold for a beehive (which was later removed at the end of the process), and then let nature take its course.

It was pretty striking sitting in there amongst all the forms created by snazzy digital technologies. (Two layers of plexiglass resulted in a poor photo, but beekeepers will get what they’re seeing.) Talk about burr comb … how ’bout vase comb?

—Steve Whittlesey

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Recipe of the Month
Honey-glazed black pepper roast bee*

2 Tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
1 (4-pound) beef top round roast
6 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. expeller-pressed canola oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub beef all over with pepper and salt and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast beef, undisturbed, for an hour.

Meanwhile, whisk together honey, vinegar, and oil in a medium bowl. After 45 minutes of roasting, brush beef all over with honey mixture. Continue to cook 15 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast 10 to 30 minutes more, until roast has reached desired degree of doneness, brushing it every 15 minutes with glaze. Note that the meat will continue cooking while it rests after being removed from the oven and the temperature will rise another 5 or 10 degrees. Let meat rest 15 minutes before slicing thinly. Serve with pan juices drizzled over the top.

* Recipe reprinted from Whole Foods Market,

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