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Buzz Words - January 2007

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

Next Meeting - Remember our concerns last summer with West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis? Our questions will be answered on Tuesday, January 9th, 2007 as we present Gabrielle Sakolsky of the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project.
Gabrielle will allay our fears; explain the controls provided by the agency, and detail how they will, or will not, affect our bees.  The meeting begins at 7:30 P.M. and is at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, 869 Route 6A, Brewster.

Refreshment Volunteers for the January meeting at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster are: Karen Schwalbe, Susie Houghton, and Donna Tanis.


We Wish You All A Happy, Healthy 2007
To paraphrase Bee Culture Editor Kim Flottum –
May your hive tool remain sharp, your smoker stay lit, and your supers be full.


From the President
Wishing you all a Happy New Year as we think about our girls surviving this mild winter (so far).  Will they eat through their stores before the first spring flower?  That's always the $64,000 question. On those warm 50 to 55 degree days, heft those hives and quickly check under that inner cover.  If you see them all up at the top, give them some fondant.  I am assuming you have it all ready out of the freezer and with you and at room temperature.

We are open to additional subjects for our meetings.  Looks like we will have a wax cleaning and candle making again because it's a subject that keeps coming up.  If there is anything else you would like to hear more about, please voice your opinion and contact one of the Board of Directors listed at the end.  It's YOUR meeting and we would like to keep you coming in 2007.

Thanks and A Happy Bee Year to you all.  -- 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. 

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Dana Stahlman
Selecting a Coordinator and selecting breeding stock.
To begin any project requires a person dedicated to the success of a queen project.  Lets call this person a coordinator -- Coordinator of the Queen Project.
I would describe this person as follows:  Has a strong interest in queens.  Willing to work with all club members to achieve desired results.  Organize a club program and set it up.  Organizational skills required.   People skills required.   Beekeeping knowledge required but may not have any queen raising experience.

The duties involved would be: finding someone to teach various queen rearing techniques.   Finding a location to meet and locating bees and equipment to use in the project. Note: I will provide study sheets, which can be used, or maybe you can find better material for your use.

This should be a club effort with various members contributing frames of bees for a cell-building hive, equipment to hold the frames, and members sharing outstanding stock for others to use as grafting stock.  This last item is very important and let me explain why:

I feel that there is some outstanding stock in your own neighborhood.  Individuals who do Artificial Insemination search for outstanding stock to produce queens.   The New World Carniolan project uses a large number of participating individuals to select outstanding queens that are selected for A.I. (Artificial Insemination).  These participating individuals work closely with Sue Colby at The Ohio State University to produce A.I. queen stock for participating breeders.  The results of this effort speak for themselves.  Clubs can do the same thing.  Members in a club have access to a large number of colonies individually.  If those members decide to find the best of the best local stock and share the selected queen’s larva for grafting with other members, the entire area benefits.  A region can involve several clubs joining in such an effort.  West Virginia actually bought queens from members to use in their queen project.  That way the West Virginia organization could control the breeding stock much better and easier.  I understand the price paid to members providing queens was $200.00.  I would hesitate to sell my best queen for $200.00 and so should your members.  However, when it is all said and done, you want to be very selective of the queens you might consider buying. 

Second, a local selected stock has a number of advantages.   The queen breeders in the South may develop stock that do well in their own region but when queens raised and produced in this region are transported to a cooler or colder region the conditions are quite different than where they were produced.

The first steps therefore should be to identify a Queen Project Coordinator and then poll members to look for outstanding queen stock.  It would make for a good discussion during a meeting to decide what standards are going to be used to find a queen you are interested in as your queen mothers.  I could give you the list I used but it is more interesting if members work this issue out to fit their own feeling of what is a good queen.   As a guide, let me say that disease resistance should be very high on your list or first on your list.  The only way to determine disease resistance is to select from survivor stock that has not been treated for mites.  However, I would not rule out an outstanding queen that has many desirable traits just because a particular treatment has or has not been used.    Several queens will need to be identified and the owner of the queens will need to agree to share frames of eggs and larva for the club to graft.  I never put all of my eggs into one basket.   If you graft from just one queen stock – what happens if that queen looks good but produces poor daughters?  You must evaluate all the stock all the time and be willing to kill poor queens so they do not become part of your breeding program.

Drones:  They are just as important as the queen.  The ideal situation would be to set up a mating yard.  You will need a lot of drones – each queen mates with up to 20 drones.  Since you will have up to 20 half sisters consisting of your working bee population, it would be good to provide a variety of drones – not related to the mother queen and with very good characteristics – just like the selection of your queen mothers.  I tried to introduce into my mating yards drone mothers that were Russian, New World Carniolan, and Karnica.  This last queen is produced by A.I. insemination by Joe Latshaw of Ohio Queen Breeders and is of Carniolan linage.  Each has strong traits for disease resistance and survives well with our Ohio winter conditions.

In the next letter, I will describe how the queen project sessions are set up and conducted.  If you want to get a queen project off the ground, you will need to address the two issues I have brought up in this letter –   Dana

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Claire's Corner
Well, the hives are wrapped and insulated for winter. That is, when winter finally arrives. Flowering Cherry buds are about to open in Sandwich and daffodils are beginning to pop above the soil’s surface. The honeybees certainly have had time for those cleansing flights with this global warming trend. We should not need to worry about excessive stores being consumed as the temperature hovers around 40 degrees. This is the optimal temperature for the honeybee cluster – perfect for visibility and minimal use of stored honey.

January and February are perfect for catching up on reading those journals stacked by your lounge chair. Concentrate on those articles on queens and the need for drones. In May perhaps we can evaluate our over-wintered hives and begin a Cape Cod Breeding Project.

Thoughts for spring and summer
While flipping through an old notebook the other day, we came upon notes of why bees collect water. This lecture (speaker unknown) was titled “The Thirst of a Hive”.  The collection process happens for two simple reasons: 1) to cool the hive, 2) to prepare food for brood. These water collectors are new field bees at 20+ days old. Water receivers in the hive are from 10 to 20 days old. Upon receiving the water, it actually gets smeared on the frames and in the cells. With fanning from other house bees, a cooling effect is realized. As the demand in the hive for water increases, the receivers switch their house duties from nectar to water. You would think that this change in demand would depress nectar collection but the lecturer stated that no change in the amount of nectar coming into the hive is realized.

A good healthy hive of 60,000 workers will collect 250# of nectar, 50# of pollen, 1# of resin (propolis) and more than 10 gallons of water per year. With all those mouths to feed it is understandable why we only harvest an average of 50 pounds of honey in a good season.

Keep reading, we still have a few months before the packages arrive!

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The Osterville Comments
Armstrong-Kelley Park is bursting with color for the season and it is not only our lights but winter jasmine (similar to forsythia in color and floral shape) is blooming a month ahead of schedule.  Snow drops are peeking through the nice green grass.  On December 27th, I planted over 500 grape hyacinths provided to us from the Conservation Commission.  We get their unsold and unwanted bulbs.  As long as you can work the soil, you can plant bulbs.  If available, a good watering helps.  Our water was shut down before Thanksgiving.  Remember, you can't hold over bulbs so get them in the ground or in pots outside so they get the cold.  The gold fish are still hunting for food as are the bees.  Fondant is the sweet de jour.  We lost a hive which we found full of wax moths.  After our most successful honey sale, we are still bananas about bees and hope all are buzzing about and stop to see the lights of Armstrong-Kelley Park which will glow until January 2nd.  Carl Mongé

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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
Well, winter is officially here. December 21 was the day of the Winter Solstice, when the days begin getting longer. It has been an incredible and record setting autumn as far as the temperatures have been concerned. I hope you have been keeping on top of the amount of food in your hives, because the bees will have been more active and, therefore, consuming more food than if the weather had been colder. Fondant, or sugar candy, is a good way to supply food to your hives. It provides the sugars the bees need without the moisture found in sugar syrup, and, as we learned in Bee School, moisture in the hive in the winter is not good. It can cause all kinds of problems with mold and mildew. Moisture can also chill the cluster.

Bee School is happening soon. This is a great time for senior (experienced) club members to help with educating new members. Come teach a course. If not, come and add your two cents and tried and tested techniques. Monitoring of the offered classes is free to members with their dues up to date. Is there something new in the keeping of honeybees you aren’t aware of? Actually, how would you know if you don’t know about it? Maybe you should sit in on a couple of classes and maybe bring yourself up to date.

The sky is gray this afternoon, and has been all day. Days like this, dark and damp and chilly, depress me. What a good time to stoke up the woodstove in the shed, throw on all the lights, crank up the CD player and begin prepping some of those tired deeps and shallows. Some elbow grease (work off some of those desserts you shouldn’t have had) and sandpaper, a coat of primer (this is usually where I’m done) and a couple coats of exterior “Whoops” paint (the stuff from the bargain shelf at the paint or hardware store that wasn’t just the right color) and the whole day looks different, hopefully better.

The most meaningful gift I received was a beehive and all the necessary equipment and lessons to operate it. It didn’t come to me, however. Goodness knows I don’t need anything else cluttering up my life, and this could turn around another’s life. It went to a needful family through the Heifer Project. Perhaps next year you could ask Santa for such a hive. How does it go? Give a person some honey and they will be sweet for a month. Give that same person their own beehive and their friends will learn more about bees than they thought possible or even wanted to know.
I hope everyone has a safe and joyful New Year

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Package Bees
Order forms for bees will be available soon. First delivery date could be April 21st. We will need to know your needs as soon as possible.

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We are still looking for overdue books and videos. Please do not bring them to the January meeting. Returns will be appreciated in February so that they will be available for our “newbees”.

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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!

back to top Last updated 01/07/07