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Buzz Words - January 2009

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Bees, Bees, Bees
4. Upcoming Meetings of Interest
5. Claire's Corner
6. Bee School 2009
7. The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
8. Library
9. Tips
10. Websites of Interest
11. Classifieds
12. Fondant Candy Recipe

The January Meeting will be on Tuesday, the 13th; 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149.  Featured speaker this month is Matthew Helms, an exterminator with P.I. – Pest Investigators.  Matt will tell us why he is not allowed to kill honey bees, and will also regale us with some of his calls to remove flying insects from peoples homes.

New members and registered Bee School members are urged to attend. It will give you a chance to meet some of your fellow members and perhaps find that a neighbor is also a beekeeper.



Bee School  - Jan 5th       Andy Morris  - nibbles,    Joe Miksch --  drinks
                    Jan 19th    Andy Morris  -  drinks,   Tom & Margee Leonard -- nibbles

Meeting – Jan 13th        Marte Ayers  -  nibbles   Suzanne Hill & Cal Mutti  -- drinks

From the President
What a strange winter we’re having, aren’t we?  Indian summer into November, right wintry in December with snow just before Christmas and today, December 27, spring like with temperatures near 60ºF.

But I am not complaining. These periodic warm spells come often at just about the right times for what we call the bees cleansing flights. When it’s warm enough, and it certainly has been in recent days, foragers search for the first signs of spring. Unfortunately, unless the witch hazel is blooming, they will come up short and return to the colony with empty pollen baskets. There are always a few bees that never quite make it back, getting chilled by the quickly cooling air in January.

This winter, I just hope we won’t have 13 straight weeks of near-freezing temperatures as we had two year’s ago. Keep those spring-like breaks coming!

When you get this newsletter, the beginners’ course will already have started.  With all the bee stories in the press, beekeeping sure is popular:  The course again is overbooked.

 Oh, I almost forgot:  Winter is the best time to curl up with your favorite beekeeping book. And while you are at it, think about 3 questions you had last year in your beekeeping and read up on them. Send them to me, Jan or Claire.  We will be able to use them in planning our future meetings.

Most of all, observe your bees closely. It is rewarding, and they will reward you!  -- George

Bees, Bees, Bees
If you need to order bees, please use the form included with this newsletter. We will again receive 3# packages of Italian queens from Georgia. The price this year is $68. per package, due by February 16th.

There are 3 dates available, and all are tentative. In fairness, we reserve the right to limit quantity orders to 15 packages per member. Our membership is now over 250 and we have a large bee school.

» Download Bee Package Order Form (pdf)

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Upcoming Meetings of Interest
B.C.B.A. Holiday Market on Tuesday, December 9th.  A great time to pick up all sorts of locally produced items worthy of Christmas gift status.  All members are encouraged to bring their crafts, whether bee-related or not. Last year we had the usual round of honeys, candles, hand creams and lip balms as well as hand-carved swords, paired with worthy shields for the little knights in our lives, and beautifully knitted hats, mittens and scarves.  We don’t want to fail to mention the fantastic holiday treats baked by our own ladies and gentlemen.

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Claire's Corner
When looking for inspiration for this epistle, I occasionally wander over to the observation hive. The activity is always amazing regardless of time of day or season. Currently it is 9 p.m. and 37 degrees. I have watched the queen strut around and was sure she was looking for an empty cell to lay the first few eggs of the new season. Well, why not? The days are already getting longer. It appears she was only exercising her legs, but I did wonder if she had begun to lay as I noted many workers’ “tother-ends” protruding from many cells. Perhaps cleaning, or maybe feeding?

The number of workers remains impressively large at this time and the stores are not depleted. Nor have they consumed any sugar syrup in the last several weeks. How does this correlate with the hives on the bogs?  We wish it were similar activity but conditions are different.  The home-bound girls only cluster when the temperature dips below 25F. Their environment remains pretty constant with their ambient temperature around 64-65 degrees. The girls on the bogs deal with temps below 40 and remain in a tight cluster. Unless your hive went into the weather with few stores, you should see little starvation due to any extended cold snap.  The weather has fluctuated sufficiently for the bees to move about the hive and re-cluster around untouched honey.

We are now a week into the new solstice. According to the late Roger Morse, of Cornell University, queens should begin laying in late December in most parts of the United States, stimulus being the increased length of day.  Did we just see eggs? Wishful thinking?   Keep you posted, and keep feeding that candy.

A Healthy and Happy New Year to All!

» View FAQs

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Bee School 2009
.. will commence on Monday, January 5th and continue on the 1st and 3rd Mondays in January, February, and March. We have moved over to the West Barnstable Community Building due to overcrowding at the Whelden Library. The board has decided to close the class at 30 families.

» View schedule

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The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
by Andy Morris

“I bought you a gift,” said Patty. “I’ve already worked on mine. See.” She handed Paul a small loose-leaf notebook.

“What’s this for?” he inquired.

Patty squinted her eyes at Paul. “Don’t you remember from bee school? It was suggested several times, and it was even mentioned at the session when we learned how to introduce the package of bees into the new hive. We should keep detailed records of our hives.”
Paul put their first copy of Bee Culture down on the mahogany lamp table next to the antique wingback chair. He had been reading an article about queen bee rearing in which they had strongly stressed the need for keeping records of the process. It seemed that timing was of the utmost importance when rearing queens. Wait too long at any step and things could get messy.
Although he remembered the times the instructors at bee school mentioned the need for keeping a journal about one’s hive, he decided to tease Patty and pretend to not understand.

“Do you really think I can’t remember what I did when I went into the hive last time?”

“OK,” said Patty. “How many gallons of syrup did we make up to feed the bees?”


“My bees have already taken about one and a half gallons from my feeder. How many have yours taken?” asked Patty.
Paul smiled because he remembered the afternoon of the Syrup-filled Shoe Incident and responded with, “One. Do you really think that stuff is important to keep track of?”

Patty just shook her head in mild disappointment and said, “Here’s your notebook. The first page is a calendar, so at a glance you can see the last time you visited your hive. If you use different colored markers, you can schedule different reasons for going to your hive.
“I’ve laid the rest of the journal out so it is a checklist. I tried to think of as many things as I could, remembering the information we got from bee school, but I’m sure we’ll have to revise the format as we mature as beekeepers.”

“Do you mean,” asked Paul, as he invitingly patted his lap, “that I’ll have to carry this thing to the hive each time I visit? Can’t I just wait to write the stuff in it when I get done and back to the house?”

Patty accepted his invitation and sat down on his lap. “Paul, we are, as the more experienced members of the bee club, call us, ‘Newbees’. If we start this experience with good habits, they will become old good habits. The answer to your question is: Yes, we’ll have to bring our journals to the hive each and every time we visit the hives, and make notes on the spot.”

Paul wrapped his arms around Patty and said, “I love it when you are forceful. What do you say we practice some other old good habits right now?”

To be continued . . .

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Our library has been permanently moved to the Whelden Library in West Barnstable. This includes a select number of books and videos.  This will make them available to all via the CLAMS system.

There will be a list included in the Bee School text for 2009.

Duplicates of the books and videos will be available for sale at the December meeting.

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Make sure there is enough ventilation to allow excess moisture to exit the hive.  Also, make sure the cover keeps out any rain or snow.  Moisture causes more harm than cold does; it causes hypothermia of the bees, and they will die.

If we get any amount of snow, be sure the hive entrances are cleaned off so that the girls may  take their cleansing flights once the sun comes out and the temps climb into the 40’s.

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Websites of Interest

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Donald Smith of Wellfleet called to tell us that he has approximately 100 used and new supers, both deep and shallow, for sale, plus a four-frame extractor. They have been stored and are all in good condition. Don can be reached at 508-349-2516

Arnie Howe has available a form for making concrete hive stands.     508-428-9742

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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

back to top Last updated 01/02/09