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Buzz Words - January 2011

Next MeetingJanuary 11th,  7:30 p.m., West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable.   Power point presentation on Queen rearing; produced by the Grant Committee. How to make nucleus colonies now that you have bought that box.

Juice/ Cider -- Fran & Charlie Szeglin
Nibbles -- Rebecca Matarazzi, Cece & Tony Murphy

Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

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From The President
Me? I make mistakes? What, it wasn’t Conrad’s/the neighbor’s/the summer person’s/my children’s/ fault? I have to take responsibility for my own actions? Okay, here goes ….mistakes I have made as a beekeeper.

  1. Poking the sugar candy out all the way out of the bottom of the Queen cage and installing it anyway just to find the rejected/dead Queen swept out on to the front stoop the next day. The colony left with a three-week wait for a new queen to be raised.
  2. Judging by the egg laying pattern I jumped to the conclusion there was no queen and did not conduct an extensive enough search for her. Buying and introducing a new queen only to find her dead and swept out with the trash, a $25 mistake and needless stress for the girls.
  3. Putting the hive back together in a willy-nilly fashion i.e. not keeping the sequence of brood to stores, thereby stressing the hive and creating a situation where the housekeeper bees became so embroiled in setting things straight they sent out signals to the queen to ramp down laying. Ultimately leading to less foragers when more are what is called for during the precious little time window of Cape Cod’s main nectar flow.
  4. After introduction of new package I did not put all the frames back in place and a space got left which got filled with bee generated comb. Beautiful, clean and naturally shaped but it made for a situation where two or three frames got melded together and were not able to be manipulated without inflicting substantial harm to the newly laid larva/brood.
  5. After switching the bottom deep with the top deep to create the impression of more room for brood rearing and to ostensibly reduce swarming behavior I did not notice the inner cover stuck to the bottom of the now upper brood box. I reassembled the two with an intervening board, inadvertently cutting the colony into two parts…one with no queen. So instead of creating double the space for the ramping up hive I gave them half the space. Results were less foragers for the main honey flow.
  6. Not replacing old wax foundation with the mistaken notion that the smaller cell size would lead to less varroa/hive beetle and the bees would not have to take the time to draw out cells thereby leaving them to do more foraging. So, in effect I subjected the bees to foundation that had much more pesticide than newly drawn out foundation and probably weakened the hive/genetics.
  7. Oh, it’s so easy to install a new package; one really doesn’t even need a bee suit for this job I say to the new beekeeper as I give her the how-to instructions to install her package. Not realizing that there has already been a big mistake made by the newbie in that the package has overnighted in the newbie’s car and is overheated and angry because of it. Results are I get stung at least 15 times, scare the new beekeeper who luckily had the sense to have her suit on, and generally created a bad impression of the right way to handle one’s new bees. Luckily, the bee’s lived and went on to become a strong hive with enough extra honey for their new beekeeper.

I guess I could go on but you get the drift…we are none of us infallible. It is easy to make mistakes when a routine is in its infancy and again when the routine becomes old hat. I think I have cut down on the numbers of obvious mistakes I make and I have learned that following my own line of reasoning should be substantiated by in-depth reading. Majorly I know that before working my hives for any reason I should meditate on the why of the greater question, to calm and ready me for looking beyond myself to the answers that are at arm’s length and within my ken if I just tune in.

Happy New Year. – Jan

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Upcoming Meetings
February 8th – Everett Zurlinden speaking on hive nutrition, nucs, and EAS 2011
March 8th - Michael Talbot, of Talbot Ecological Landcare
March 26th - Massachusetts Beekeepers Association Spring Meeting, to be held at the Topsfield Fairgrounds. Registered Bee School members receive free admission. Watch this space for more information. April 12th – Bruce Gordon, M.D., Beesting Allergies
May 10th - Pollinating Plants on Cape Cod – Sue Phelan
June 14th- Honey Harvesting and Preparation

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Nuc Boxes
Santa Richard has been busy constructing more nucleus boxes for the 2011 season. We will have some for sale on January 11th.

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Tips on Wintering

  • Place a block on T-cover to prevent wind damage
  • Add mouse guards if not already done – Remove monthly to remove dead bees (natural occurrence) blocking entrance
  • Remove snow at entrance for proper ventilation
  • Monitor weight and cluster location for feeding
  • Feed fondant or dry sugar (mountain camp method) adjacent to cluster & directly on top frames
  • Yes! You can safely open the hive for a few seconds while feeding. A second set of hands make easy work.

Temperature Rule of Thumb
Below 40° open hive in emergency only to feed candy/sugar more quickly
Below 50° open hive for short period – do not pull brood combs check outer frames for honey/pollen - move closer to cluster
At 50° bees begin to take cleansing flights short inspections permissible but avoid chilling brood
At 60° complete hive inspection, unless very windy, then just quick brood check
At 70° thorough hive inspection

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Julie Lipkin
Here’s an expanded version of a note from my blog:

I hope you all took a moment during your Christmas celebrations to wish a happy 200th birthday Dec. 25 to Lorenzo Langstroth, to whom we owe so much (most especially, our keen reverence for the importance of 5/16 of an inch). His U.S. Patent # 9300 changed beekeeping forever. Did you know he was not a formally trained scientist, but a Congregational minister? Or that he spent his middle years in Massachusetts? Or that there is an effort afoot to create a commemorative postage stamp in his honor? (You can add your voice to this effort, if you care in the least, by sending a letter to that effect to: Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, U.S. Postal Service, 1735 North Lynn Street, Suite 5013, Arlington, VA 22209-6432. But be quick! The committee is meeting to discuss this in January!) In closing (appropriately), let me share his epitaph:

“Inscribed to the memory of Rev. L.L. Langstroth, ‘Father of American beekeeping,’ by his affectionate beneficiaries who, in the remembrance of the service rendered by his persistent and painstaking observations and experiments with the honey bee, his improvements in the hive, and the literary ability shown in the first scientific and popular book on the subject of beekeeping in the United States, gratefully erect this monument.”

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An idea! A mistake?
Always thinking of a way to maintain healthy stores in the hive over winter, an idea struck us before the holidays. We had a small bucket of dark, crystallized honey left from several seasons ago. So, if we are making fondant cakes to place in the hives, why can’t we feed back squares of crystallized honey? More nutritious, more natural, and no diseases. Right?

So we proceeded to warm the honey slightly, spread it onto a large cake pan lined with waxed paper and left it to cool. Once recrystallized, we should be able to slice or cut into strips and place them directly on the frames near the clusters.

Would you think it a good idea to place a sheet of waxed paper over the top of the honey? Double-faced would prevent the bees from getting stuck. Well, we did not think of that. Nor did we think to move it off the freezer where one of our cats perches nightly while listening for mice. OMG! There are honeyed paw prints all over the top of the freezer! Needless to say, sticky paw prints are everywhere in the house – cellar, wood floors, carpets. Granulated sugar would have been so much easier!

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Claire’s Corner
Spring of 2010 witnessed the arrival of 312 packages of bees to Cape Cod. When surveyed, only 20% responded with more than half of those 65 packages thriving going into winter. A third of the queens were replaced due to poor laying patterns. It was an unusual season due to the late arrival of the bees. In essence, they never built up well as the nectar flow had passed. Many beekeepers fed most of the season. As the current weather remains cold, we hope our hives are clustered close to their stores. Of late, approximately 30% of our hives die over the winter, and this is a nationwide phenomena. Years ago we would experience a 10% loss. This is our goal with 30 to 50 hives, a loss of 3 or 5 hives is not painful. Strong survivor hives are split and nucleus colonies made as replacements. Of course, as the losses increase, it becomes more difficult to make those replacements.

B.C.B.A. has taken a giant step towards winter survival as we proceed with the queen rearing program. We have at least 10 hives across the cape headed by our daughter queens. We should be ecstatic if 6 or more survive the winter. Come mid-May, with the weather on our side, we hope to increase the number of daughter queens every few weeks. The grant will need all of you with overwintered hives to accept or requeen with one of these queens. Please consider this to increase our success.

Attached to this newsletter is the 2011 order form for bees. You have two choices this year, packages and/or nucleus colonies. Both should arrive in the same shipment, tentatively April 23rd. we will entertain orders now, with payment due mid-February. Order early.

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Andy’s Ramblings
I must admit that, most of the time, living alone and being retired has its benefits. My schedule and calendar belong, for the most part, to me. I can go to bed and get up in the morning when I choose. Take my meals when I’m hungry. Stay or leave at my pleasure.

One of the biggest demands made upon my time is the due date on the books and videos I have borrowed from the Bourne Library (Oh, Yeah. I mustn’t forget the deadline for this newsletter).

With the recent loss of power due to the “Blizzard of 2010”, and the temperature in my house sinking to a balmy 46 degrees, I was recently wishing I were a drone honeybee. It’s true that, at this time of year, there are very few drones left in the hive. But, under the circumstances I just went through, I’d be willing to take chance be(e)ing one of them. I could have used a few warm female bodies to cuddle-up with.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to live with that one downside of my living situation.

Hey Paul, how about putting this website in the newsletter? Folks could save enough to pay for their next year’s dues.

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Fondant Candy Recipes

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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Member Carl Johanssen has a NEW, completely built and painted hive that he no longer needs. This would be a good start for a bee school member who has no construction capabilities or tools; or has just a small apartment with no room t put all those boxes when they arrive. If interested, call Carl at 508-888-8401.

While in the classifieds, I would like to remind everyone that the club stocks enough equipment to build 5 standard hives, including frames and foundation, right here in our basement at 186 Old County Rd. Our prices are the same as those in the current Brushy Mountain catalog, but with no freight charges. So, the time to order is prior to the new catalog which goes into effect on 1 February. Examples: Deep or Shallow Frames - $8.90/10, Deep Foundation - $9.00/10, Med or Shallow Foundation - $6.50/10 Woodbound Queen Excluder - $14.95, Deep Body - $13.50, Shallow - $9.50

back to top Last updated 12/31/10