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Buzz Words - January 2008

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Tips
4. Upcoming Meetings of Interest
5. Claire's Corner
6. Woodenware and Foundation
7. Library
8. 2008 Bee School Schedule
9. Fondant Candy Recipe
10. Osterville Comment
11. Colony Collapse Disorder

Next Meeting
Tuesday, January 8th, at 7:30 P.M. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149. Our speaker will be Kirsten Valentine Cadieux and she will enlighten us on the subject of Sustainable Foods.

We need refreshments for this meeting. Just something light to snack on. Coffee will be provided by BCBA. A list will be circulated for volunteers for the next few meetings.

From the President
Happy New Year everyone!

As the days lengthen, we just might expect our queens to start laying. Food stores are critical at this stage, so do not hesitate to pop in a slab of fondant, right on top of the frames. And,. NO, opening the hive for a scant few seconds does no harm. (A second pair of hands makes this step even quicker). Just make sure that the fondant slab is thin enough to allow the inner cover to close tightly.

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Meetings of Interest
February – will see David Simser, Cape Cod Extension Entomologist return. This time he will educate us on The Year of the Cicada

March – Apitherapy (Bee Sting Therapy) presented by member Malinda Mayer

March 29th, Massachusetts Beekeepers Assoc. Spring Meeting, featuring Dr. Tom Seeley, of Cornell Univ.

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Claire's Corner
The first gardening catalog just arrived, reminding us to remind you all to pick a few packages of seeds for our May Pollinator Plant Sale. Hummm! Burpee has a gorgeous selection of tomatoes!
And, thinking Spring, it is never to early to order your packages of bees. No dates as yet, but the reservations are coming in.

As the days creep ever so slowly with more daylight, we have noticed an increase in the taking of sugar syrup in the observation hive. Does that mean queenie is preparing to increase the colony? The numbers of bees have remained constant and large along with the amount of stores. The queen has remained reclusive but, we will keep you posted when she surfaces.

Reverting back to winter subjects, wrapping hives appears to be as controversial as queen excluders. In a recent county newsletter received here, another “spin” on wrapping was noted. One beekeeper feels wrapping is of little value in December and January, but does help in February and March when the queen has commenced laying, and warmth is needed for the brood. The temperature in a wrapped hive an be 5 to 8 degrees warmer than in an unwrapped hive. This is based on temperature monitoring by a Middlesex County beekeeper.

The word “sustainable” seems to be the current buzz word. Let us hope that in 2008, Barnstable County Beekeepers can practice sustainable beekeeping as our queen rearing project begins, and our dependence on Georgia packages and nucleus colonies decreases. Consider a 5-frame nuc box when ordering equipment. Making a summer split with a local queen could offset the loss of a hive or might be an easy way to requeen.

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Woodenware and Foundation
We hear that many members are thinking of increasing hive numbers – ahh, they have been bitten by these incredible “bugs”! So, as cold weather sets in, get out your catalogs and start listing your needs.

The order form was not ready at print deadline, but will be available at the next meeting, at bee school, and online at our website. Our apologies for this glitch.

» Order Form (xls)

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Please return all books and videos to this meeting, so the library staff can update our lists. Thank You.

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Bee School
The schedule has been prepared and is available on the club website.
» 2008 Bee School Schedule

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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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Osterville Comment
Armstrong-Kelley Park lost one hive during December. We are now down to two hives. We have been feeding fondant to the ladies but, we lost one to the cold. I believe we had too thick a piece of fondant and the covers were not completely closed. This spring, we shall try again. Over the last 5 or so years, we have gone from two, to five, to eight, back to five, down to three and now two hives. Well, spring will come again, Red Sox will win the World Series to keep pace with the World Champion Patriots and Celtics, so the world will continue to spin and we'll survive. Carl Monge

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Colony Collapse Disorder and Best Management Practices
Times are changing and with these new days come a reordering of beekeeping priorities. Beekeepers and honeybees continue to struggle with threats to our mutual survival. Colony Collapse Disorder remains the media’s top bee story. If the Farm Bill gets passed in the Senate we might see funding for research that finds answers to our growing list of questions. The CCD working group has made important gains, and researchers are close to moving theories into the factual column, connecting cause to CCD. One conclusion we can all agree on is that beekeeping practices must change if the honeybee is to continue as the primary pollinator in agriculture.

Viruses have been the most recent media favorite as the cause of CCD. Of Particular interest is the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV). Much of this has been the result of improved diagnostic techniques and the recruitment of non-traditional research facilities (medical). Although IAPV is another new threat and serious concern to U.S. beekeepers, the ability of labs to detect viruses has been a revelation. Scientists from the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (April 2007) used new technology, designed for the military, called the Integrated Virus Detection System to isolate the presence of viral and parasitic pathogens in honeybees. Further work was conducted by teams at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the 454 Life Sciences Labs under the direction of Ian Lipkin MD (September 2007). They used DNA sequencing to search for viruses, bacteria,fungi and parasites common in hives with CCD. IAPV not previously reported in the U.S. (Transmitted by Varroa mites) and the Kasmir Virus were found in CCD hives. IAPV was positive in 96.1% of samples from CCD colonies. The introduction of this new virus to the U.S. came with imported Australian bees, and royal jelly from China (used in queen production). The importation of Australian packages in 2004 coincides with early reports of colony declines. Jeff Pettis (USDA) and participants of the CCD working group are describing IAPV as an important marker that may identify colonies at risk for disease. Next steps will be experiments to confirm the connection of IAPV to CCD.

Another method of identifying viruses is a process called Reverse Transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). I am only now learning how this is done and do not pretend to comprehend the specifics of this process. It has proved to be rapid, specific and sensitive for the detection of Sacbrood virus in the nucleic acid of infected honeybees. It is now possible to identify eighteen viruses using this procedure and can identify multiple viruses in the same sample. I found it interesting that samples of queens, workers and drones found one or more viruses in every sample tested. Viruses have been common in honeybees for years, and most have not been considered serious problems in the past. Until now viruses have been difficult to identify. Only the Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), and the Sacbrood Virus (SBV) can be identified by their physical characteristics. Advances in testing will open the door to a better understanding of the true impact on bees, and hopefully provide practical outcomes for reducing viral infections.

Massachusetts beekeeping is in the midst of several important changes. The first is to adopt a set of "Best Management Practices" (BMPs) for beekeeping. BMPs will provide guidelines for responsible beekeeping in Massachusetts. This will involve reviewing available information, updating the information, writing the BMPs, asking for peer review from members and county associations, and finally a vote to accept the BMPs. This will take considerable time and effort. It will be an important document only if everyone will contribute his or her suggestions. Our past two surveys indicate our members have an average of 10-12 years as beekeepers. With that much experience there should be plenty of useful ideas.

A few of you have expressed concern that BMPs would somehow limit or hinder beekeeping. Understand that BMPs written by the state association are not law. The state regulations (Apiary Inspection Regulations 330 CMR; sections 8.01 – 8.07) currently on the books are the only mandatory and legally enforceable regulations that apply to all state beekeepers. BMPs are voluntary. They will work only if they are sensible and using them will improve beekeeping. So why put so much time and energy into writing them? The simple answer is that BMPs will improve beekeeping, protect the public and demonstrate to regulatory agencies, and the public, our desire to set standards without the need for new laws (written by non-beekeepers). BMPs are written to define most activities, including business practices. As beekeepers, we will focus on management practices that improve safety, promote healthier honeybees, and that result in clean high quality products.

Beekeeping is a critical agricultural activity. Massachusetts is increasingly urban (non-farming residents). With over 6 million residents (twice the population of Connecticut) Massachusetts is the most densely populated state in New England. Beekeepers are keeping bees closer to neighbors and in areas densely populated. The beekeeper and the public have a developing relationship that may not always go smoothly. The beekeeper needs to be able to reassure non-beekeepers that honeybees are being managed safely, and within accepted guidelines. Endorsement by the state and county associations goes a long way to add to the public's reassurance. This is the best defense when a disgruntled resident petitions to ban beekeeping, or tries to impose restrictions on beekeepers that will regulate our ability to keep colonies in the best locations. Best Management Practices can provide instructions for defining relationships, and resolving disputes, between the beekeeper, neighbors and town officials.

Daniel Conlon – President, Massachusetts Beekeepers’ Association

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