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Buzz Words - January 2013

The January meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 8th,  2013, 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149, approximately ½ mile north of the Mid Cape Highway . Our featured speaker this month is Hannah Nadel.

Hannah Nadel's background and scope of the talk: She has a PhD in entomology from the University of California, Riverside, where she studied parasitic wasps and how to use them in biological control of insect pests. Since then she worked as an entomologist in Europe, Canada, and eastern Africa as well as on both coasts of the US, and she finally settled on Cape Cod three years ago to be Head of Insect Production at the US Department of Agriculture laboratory on the Otis military base. Although she has no formal training in apiculture, she spent several months in 1999 working with traditional beekeepers in the northern part of Ethiopia. This gave her the incredible opportunity to enter their homes and learn how they live and keep the African honeybee, probably as their ancestors did for thousands of years. In her presentation she will describe their ancient beekeeping practices and introduce you to the people and culture of this fascinating African country.

From the President
With the New Year it is a good time for some monthly resolutions for a super 2013.
In January mix in some Kelley and Betterbee with your Burpee, Dixondale and Harris catalog reading.
In February watch for the first cleansing flights as the temperature goes up.
In March see if your hive(s) needs some fondant to make it thru the rest of the winter.
In April reverse the hive bodies.
In May be sure there is a water source near your hive(s).
In June check for swarm cells.
In July encourage natural lawn vegetation.
In August get rid of the leaf blower.
In September get on the mouse guards.
In October placate your neighbor(s) with some of your honey.
In November get your hive(s) ready for winter.

And in December, if you’ve done all this, plus checking and treating for mites and nosema, monitoring the productivity of your queen, adding supers as needed, attending bee club meetings, volunteering at the Barnstable County Fair, watching for robbing by wasps and other bees, creating your own permutations on how you set up your hive and manage the inhabitants, capturing a swarm or two, mentoring a new beekeeper, and (hopefully) harvesting some honey, resolve to spend some quality time with that special honey of your own.


Upcoming Meetings of Note
The next SABA seminar will be 3/16/13 in Albany.
Speakers will be Adam Finkelstein of VP Queens in MD, Karen Rennich of the Bee Informed Partnership and Jon Zawislak of the University of Arkansas.  Go to for more info. This program has been presented for many years, always has great speakers; and, usually, a chance to dine with the speakers on the previous evening at a local (Albany, NY) restaurant.

E.A.S. 2013 will be held August 5 to 9 at West Chester University, just outside Philadelphia.  If anywhere as good as was Vermont this past year, it will be a fabulous venue for all levels of beekeepers.  Keep your eye on the EAS website for info after January 1st.

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Recipe of the Month
After hearing our speaker, Eve Gabriel, at our bee meeting, I purchased her book, the Faithful Fork. In it she mentioned Kefir and after researching this through Google, I purchased the starter kit online. Needless to say, it is multiplying faster than I can eat or drink it (especially with the holiday traveling). If anyone would like to try this in their diet, please let me know before the meeting and I will bring you a starter portion. Water Kefir Grains | How To Make Kefir
It's 1/3 cup of the grains, plus a 1/3 cup of raw sugar (I found Sucanat from a health food store), unsulphured molasses (if you wish) and water. Stir together and sit on the counter for 48 hours.    --  Marte

Honey & Lemon Tart
1 ½ cup flour, salt to taste, 1 ½ tsp superfine sugar, 5 ½ oz butter, 3-4 Tbsp water, make 9” crust  -bake 400 – 15 min (weigh down w/beans on top of parchment), remove parchment/beans bake 5 more min. until base firm not brown.
Reduce to 350 pour filling in bake 30 min until set.
Filling:  1 1/3 cup cottage or ricotta cheese, push cottage thru sieve, 6 Tbsp honey, 3 egg beaten, ½ tsp cinnamon, grated rind & Juice of 1 lemon, 2 slices of lemon, 1 in center of pie  & 1 divided into 8th around outside of center to serve

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Claire's Corner
Although daily we walk by our observation hive, it is rare at this time of year that we take a peek unless the feeding jar is low. On warm days there might be a hum, but little activity or sound is heard on these cold days. The queen still has a short crescent yellow mark left but rarely seen due to the numbers on the two frames.

On 12/27/12 we had 520 and there was some activity, so we rolled up the cover. Hmm, still good stores and not much food consumed. A good cluster of bees were moving about, but looking closely, we found capped brood on both sides of one frame. This is very strange and quite early. The days have just started to lengthen, and very slowly at that. Do you suppose the house is too warm at 690? The late Roger Morse, of Cornell University, has stated in one of his texts that queens in the North do start laying in late December based on food stores and the number of workers available to feed and tend to the larva.

One other observation is that there is no available pollen stored for the nutrition of the young. One would think this would be a deterrent to raising any young. Interestingly, this queen is entering her third spring. She is a Florida mutt and the hive remains untreated. We wonder if she lives on due to her pampered life and heated residence.

In the December newsletter we mentioned that samples of dead bees had been sent to the USDA Lab for diagnosis. The reports have come back with the good news of no Trachea mite or Nosema species evident in the samples. Unfortunately, the reports did indicate Varroa counts of 3.4 and 6.3 varroa per 100 bees. Perhaps this does not sound like a large number, but extrapolated out to a winter count of 20,000 bees, it is cause to be concerned. We learned from a recent conference that any varroa count over 1% is reason to treat a hive.

It appears we must be more diligent with our IPM methods or use more methods such as drone comb removal and interrupting the queen’s laying cycle by caging her for a period of time. Perhaps our VSH breeder queens (Varroa Sensitive Hygienic) will also help keep this critter under control.

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Bee School
for 2013 will begin Thursday, January 3rd at 7:30 p.m.
West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149
January 3rd – Introduction
January 17th – Equipment & Order
Short video by one of the NASA scientists involved in the hive Scale Weight Program.  Discusses how weight change is in the forefront of weather related issues; how much earlier pollination times have advanced, etc.  – Bruce Mogardo

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2013 Sources of Bees?
B C B A has secured two sources of honeybees to fill your hives come the Spring of 2013.

  1. Wilbanks Apiaries 3 lb. package bees are to arrive in early April.
  2. Vermont nucleus colonies will be trucked down in early May.

Dates will be announced in the Spring and will be determined by weather conditions.

If you have notified us of interest in the northern 5-frame nucs, you have been placed on the reserve list with no commitment at this time. Due to the demand, we have closed the sale of nucs; however, a wait list has been established.

(New beekeepers to be - do not panic – sources are available and will be introduced to you during classes.)

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In an effort to lessen the amount of emails some board members receive, we would like to encourage members to join the new Google blog.  Healthy questions and comments would be more educational for all. Honeybees do not always follow the textbooks an beekeeping varies considerably across the Cape. Join at or follow instructions below and Dave will help get you on board.

Can’t go a day without wanting to talk about bees? Want to exchange information with other BCBA members between meetings? The BCBA now has a free, online forum where members can ask and answer questions, and talk about all things bee-related. All you need to access the forum is an email address. To sign up just email me at and let me know you’d like to be included.

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Tamar Haspel @

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Seasonal Hints/Tips

  • If your hive lacks sufficient winter stores, feed only solid carbs.
  • When we get snow, be sure to clear off the landing board so that bees can make cleansing flights.
  • Clean dead bees from entrance to help ventilat.e
  • Dead or Alive? With an ear on top hive body, give it a sharp rap and listen for buzzing.
  • Repair used equipment, or build and paint new equipment for April’s bees.
  • Order bees early before sold out.

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Methods of Winter Feeding

Mountain Camp Feeding – from Kelley Bee News (Nov 2011)

  • Use 1 or 2 inch spacer placed directly on top brood box
  • Add 2 sheets of newspaper directly on frames (leave 1/3 of frames exposed)
  • Mist paper with water spray or sugar syrup
  • Dump 1-2# sugar on paper and mist sugar to clump, repeat sugar and spray once more
  • Misting sugar to clump will keep bees from carrying it out as a foreign material
  • Condensation from cluster heat will be absorbed by newspaper
  • If bees have not used all sugar by spring, use it to make first batch of 1:1 syrup

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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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Rhode Island Brick Method
Mix 5 lbs. Sugar with 1 cup water in an aluminum throwaway cake pan, (approx 9X13) 1.5 inch thick. Let sit for 3 to 4 days when it will be like a brick. It can be fed in pieces if it breaks using a 2” shim placed on top of the brood frames.

Courtesy of the RIBA newsletter

back to top Last updated 1/04/13