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Buzz Words - January, 2005

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. Bee School 2005
3. Honey Competition
4. Bees
5. The Osterville Saga Continues...
6. Carbaryl Petition
7. Equipment
8. Seasonal Tips
9. Formic Acid Pads
10. Gardner's Gab
11. Bee Hive Candy Recipe
12. Win a Trip to EAS 2005
13. Classified Ads

Next Meeting: Tuesday, January 11th, 7:30 P.M. back at the West Barnstable Fire Station on Route 149. - Come join us as we start the new year with Inez Narbis, President of the Falmouth Organic Gardening Club. Inez also maintains a garden at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds and will lead us in the right direction as we plan our gardens for 2005.

The Cape Wildlife Center of West Barnstable will present a slide show on "Wild Neighbors" in February and Dave Simser of Cape Cod Community College will return with a program on Beneficial Insects in March. Thanks, Jan!

Finding a meeting space for a group of our size has become a problem. After utilizing the West Barnstable Community Building for many years now, we find we are being "squeezed out" due to the building's popularity. Since we have members from Wellfleet and beyond to the east, and Woods Hole to the west, and from off-cape as well, we are attempting to keep the meeting location in a more or less centralized location, with easy access to Route 6, but it is proving difficult to do so. Members are surveying various sites but in the meantime, we will stay in the general area. Be sure to note the meeting location in each month's meeting notice so that you find yourself at the right location.

Bee School 2005
Bee School will be held at the Whelden Memorial Library, Route 149 (corner of Lombard Av) in West Barnstable on Thursday evenings, beginning at 7:30 P.M. on January 13th. A complete schedule is enclosed with this newsletter.

Members are reminded that they are welcome to audit any or all session(s) if they have previously attended our bee school.

Conversely, all bee school attendees have paid for a year’s family membership to B.C.B.A. and may attend all club meetings.

Honey Competition
The honey competition last month went very well. It was a learning experience for both the entrants and the judge. There were entries in light, medium and dark amber classes which made for a nice distinction in judging.

First Place honors went to Cindy Mesmer, Connie Novitsky and Sue Phelan. Seconds to Shelly Bancer, and Richard Rys, and a 3rd to Jan Rapp.

Members were allowed to view the judging process in order to learn what the judging steps are, what can cause you to have a reduced score. Also, you cannot compete against yourself in the same category (i.e.- 2 entries in the same class, even if from different harvests). Next time, you won’t be allowed to witness the judging. But, do plan to enter the Mass Bee Competition at the Annual Meeting in October.

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It is almost that time. Are your bees alive? Will they be in April? Do you want to add a hive or two? We have again reserved 3# packages with Italian Queens to be brought up from Georgia. Price will be $60. Arrival probably first weekend in April. We have also made arrangements for Nucs with Merrimack Valley Apiaries. They will be available late April, or early May. Price will be $75. for 5 frame nuc with your choice of Minnesota Hygienic (Italian), Russian, or New World Carniolan queens. More details to follow.

The Osterville Saga Continues...
Just before Christmas, a review of our 8 hives revealed that 7 are completely dead, decimated by wax moth. I unsuccessfully attempted a hot air gun to clean the frames and have resorted to cutting out the foundations. Have others had a similar problem this year? Is it better to replace frame and foundation rather than replacing only the foundation. Would a question and answer column be a suitable addition to the news letter? Carl Mongé, of Armstrong-Kelley Park

Answer: As long as you are sure what your hive died of, the frames can certainly be salvaged and re-used. Simply release the cleat from the top bar and scrape away the damaged foundation. Used frames will be an attraction when new hives are established. But…hives do not die from wax moth. What was the condition of the cluster? Did they abscond (varroa mites)? Starvation is evident when workers are head first in each cell looking for that last drop of food. A failing queen might visibly show a spotty brood pattern with lingering capped brood even in early winter. Protect that unused honey to give spring packages an extra boost upon arrival.

Carbaryl Petition
Please refer to the thread "Pesticide Action" ( if you want details, but here's an easy way to "make a difference". Just send your name, postal address, and a one-liner saying "add me to this petition list" to with the subject "Carbaryl Petition".

The petition is very simple, and any beekeeper can agree with it:

Carbaryl is the one of the more commonly-used and deadly pesticides that kill bees. It is the active ingredient in Sevin, and it is also used in orchards, in grasshopper control and in "West Nile Virus" mosquito control.

The proposed EPA label has "bee protection language that is far weaker than seen before. What the petition demands is that the language be changed to read:

"This product is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or residues on blooming crops or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow it to drift to blooming crops or weeds."

The only difference between what the petition demands and the EPA's proposed label warning is that the petition asks to remove "when bees are visiting" or "when bees are foraging" from the end of the cautionary statement.

Why? Well, think about it - bees certainly WILL be visiting any blooming plant or weed soon, and the person doing the spraying may be spraying at first light, before the bees are flying for the day.

Regardless, laws (and make no mistake, "The label IS the law", as has been said often) should not be worded in a way that makes a hired hand responsible for deciding to either "do his job", or telling his boss that he "saw some bees", and had to stop working. What do YOU think the boss will say?

Sort of a no-brainer, isn't it. It is sad that the EPA either can't think clearly enough to see this themselves, or (worse yet) is deliberately adding this phrase to give pesticide applicators "an excuse" that would allow them to get away with murder.

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If you have not yet sent Ed your equipment order, time is running nigh. We will be ordering from Brushy Mountain, Walter Kelley and Mann Lake this coming January. Bee school members will be given a list of recommended items. The rest of the club membership can order anything from any of those 3 catalogs. The freight savings alone will make your order worthwhile, not to mention the discounts that we receive on many items ordered in bulk. Don't forget, most prices go up in February when the new catalogs come out. We try to beat those increases.

PLEASE print your order clearly, or use the order forms in the catalogs and bring to the January meeting, with your check. Don't forget to put your name and phone number on the order. If you won't be at the meeting, mail to:
Ed Osmun
18 Solomon Pond Rd.
E. Sandwich 02537

Seasonal Tips
Continue to heft your hives from the back. Honeybees use their honey reserves more efficiently at 45F. Except for a few days late in December, the temperature has been ideal for our hives this winter. The candy placed near the cluster on the frames will stave off starvation. The days are slowly lengthening and, believe it or not, the queen will start laying soon. Placing your sticky board back in will help keep the brood warmer.

Ventilation is most important! Be sure to clear ice and snow away from the entrances.

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Formic Acid Pads
We don't normally do this, but we found this post from Bee-L to be interesting, and thought you might also. (Ed.)
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004 18:55:06 -0500
From: Bill Ruzicka billruzicka@MITEGONE.COM
Subject: Formic Acid as a Repellant for the Small Hive Beetle

Formic Acid as a Repellant for the Small Hive Beetle

Recent tests done in Florida by a German scientist on formic acid and the small hive beetle proved only that formic acid, in different applications, in various doses and concentrations, killed everything in the hive other than the small hive beetle. Formic acid does not kill the beetle.

However, there was a very important discovery made during regular treatments with MiteGone. It was observed that when acid was present in the hive the beetle tended to leave the hive and then return after the acid was gone.

THEORY: The theory behind this observation is that the acid repels the beetle either because the acid smells so bad that the beetle leaves or because the acid somehow distorts the pheromones that attract the beetles to the hive, especially to queen-less hives or hives in distress.

DEDUCTION: It may be possible, by emitting a very low dose of formic acid at the bottom board, to repel the beetle from entering the hive.

FACTS AND METHOD: We know that one full MiteGone pad will hold 240-250 grams of acid. Laying the pad flat on the bottom board or placed in a tray under a screen bottom board will emit 2-4 grams of acid through the perforations. It will last 2-3 months. A pad placed standing vertically between the comb and the wall of the hive body, on the bottom board with a one inch corner cut or mid notch will emit 1.5-2 grams a day and last up to 5 months.

VOLUNTEERS WANTED: We need volunteers to test the theory and dosage required. We do not have the beetle in Canada - instead we have a lot of snow - so testing here is not very practical. Please give me a call if you have beetles and want to try repelling them. Thanks, Bill 250-762-8156.

Gardener's Gab
Tentatively, we have set Saturday, May 21st for our 9th Annual Pollinator Plant Sale. As you peruse those catalogs, plan a few extra pots for the sale. Jan Rapp will chair this event.

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Bee Hive Candy Recipe
We have had a request to repeat the following recipe, so ………………..

Microwave Recipe –

  1. In a 1-quart or larger microwave dish, mix thoroughly 1 and ½ cups granulated sugar and ½ cup light corn syrup.
  2. Microwave on high, stirring every few minutes until the mixture is clear and bubbles become thumbnail sized (about 10 minutes). STOP immediately if the mixture begins to brown. A wooden spoon is very effective for stirring, as it can be left in the dish while heating.
  3. Pour into a shallow mold made of cardboard, or a container lined with paper to cool. The candy will become brittle and can be slipped on top of the frames where the bees can consume it.

Win a Trip to EAS 2005
For the rest of the year and through your Mass Bee Directors, you will have the opportunity to buy raffle tickets for a chance to win a trip for two to EAS 2005, held at Kent State University, Kent, OH, August 1-5, 2005.

Your Mass Bee Directors (Paul Desilets and Ed Osmun) will have the raffle tickets on sale, for $5 each, at the December and January 2005 BCBA meeting. The winner will be chosen early in February.

The trip will cover registration for two for the Conference (not Short Course), 4 nights in apartment-like dorms (private bath, AC, brand new), and all meals including BBQ and banquet. WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY! If the winner chooses to not attend EAS, one cash prize of $500 will be awarded instead.

For $5 you can help support EAS activities - conferences, education, research, and have a chance to attend for free the 50th EAS Conference celebration. .

Classified Ads
The editor has not been notified that the below merchandise is, or is not, still available, so will list them again this month. Please, when items have found new owners, let us know.

Lucy Wood has 20 plastic frames for sale @$1.00 each. 508-540-1813

Andy Morris has pieces of bubble wrap insulation that may be used to wrap hives. Apparently not large sheets, but large enough to piece-meal. Contact Andy at 508-362-7448 or for more info

Ed Osmun has the following items for sale. You can catch him at the meeting or call him @ 508-833-9696
- 12 oz Flat Panel Bears- $12. per 24.
- Type S Pollen Traps- Built by Amish craftsmen $59.

back to top Last updated 12/10/04