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Buzz Words - July 2012

Our next meeting is Clean Up Day, SUNDAY , July 15th at the Bee Building on the Barnstable County Fairgrounds, Route 151, East Falmouth.  This is our annual clean-up day in preparation for the Fair. Many hands make short work.  Bring hand tools, garden tools, your favorite hot weather dish to share. Clean up usually takes about 2 hours, then we sit and enjoy people’s favorite summer recipes, discuss selling prices, etc. The club provides paper goods, plastic utensils and drinks.

From the President
I’ve been a member of the BCBA for several years, not sure exactly how many.  But one thing I am pretty sure of is that each July for however many years it has been,  I have shown up at the  BCBA exhibit house at the Barnstable County Fair to do my three or four hour stint.  You meet a lot of people, you talk a little bees, and you learn a little bit, about bees and about people.

A few years ago a fellow came by the exhibit and after some talk, wondered whether he could join the BCBA and what the cost would be.  I told him he could absolutely join and there were nominal annual dues of $10 (or whatever it was back then), usually paid in January for the year.  He paused and asked if, given that it was July, the $10 could be prorated.  I wasn’t sure if such a weighty decision required the executive board or not, and as I hesitated he wandered away.

Not sure what happened to his interest in bees but it did remind me of what makes BCBA run.  It is the selfless volunteer efforts of an inordinate number of people.  I will not name any of these people because I would surely end up omitting many worthy individuals.  But if you look around you will begin to see who many of them are.  And you know what; you can become one of them too.  There is still time to sign up for a stint at the Bee exhibit at the Barnstable County Fair, coming up in a few weeks. Volunteer a few hours.  Show up and share your interest with the public.  I am walking proof that you don’t need to know much to help out.  If you haven’t already, email Marty (OK, I did name one of them!) with the hours you can volunteer at or phone at 508-274-8754.

You will have some fun, meet some people, talk some bees, and maybe learn a little bit about both people and bees.

-- John

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

Disovery Magazine has compiled nearly 50 articles relating to issues and challenges facing bees. They can be read at:

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Barnstable County Fair - Help Needed
The Barnstable County Fair is from July 21th through the 28th. We have our own building where we sell member honey along with homemade items; homemade soap, jewelry, and beeswax items, candles along with the famous honey sticks and candy. It’s a great opportunity to sell honey at an attractive price. The past two years' charge was $9.00 per pound. The price is voted upon at the "work day Sunday" prior to the start of the fair. If you have something for sale at the booth, you are expected to work at least one shift.

For our "newbees" this is a chance to rub elbows with the more "experienced" beekeepers that will be with you for the shift, pick their brains and also talk with the public. You already know more than the average person and usually everyone wants to just see the queen. Claire will have her observation hive on display. The time always seems to fly by for me.

Attached is a schedule with 3 shifts per day. However, for those who would like to work longer, please feel free to sign up for double shifts. With 4 people per shift there is plenty of time to take turns going around the fair, sample the food and refresh yourself. I would like to have 3 people signed up on each shift then fill the 4th if there are extra volunteers. You receive free VIP parking at the front main gate and an admission ticket which is good for the whole day. So come early or stay after your shift and enjoy the whole fair. You can view the entertainment for each day on and pick the day you would like to work.

Please email me with your choice of day and shift at or phone me on my cell at 508-274-8754.

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News from 4-H
The 4-H hive at the county farm is doing gangbusters! It’s full of buckwheat honey, pollen, and brood. Andy Morris and Kalliope Egloff opened the hive up on 6/24 for a general inspection. No hive beetles or other pests were noticed.

Gabi, the Assistant Director and medical entomologist at Cape Cod Mosquito Control, was the guest speaker at the June meeting of the 4-H Junior Beekeepers and Entomology Club. The 4-H club opened up the meeting to all 4-H’ers that were interested. Gabi was great! She explained to the 4-H’ers what CC Mosquito Control did, how and why they did it, and why it was important what they did. She also brought specimens of bed bugs, ticks, mosquitoes, and more, along with microscopes. The 4-H’ers that attended enjoyed the lecture very much. We love Gabi!

Our July meeting will be to tend the Pollinator Garden at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds. Additionally, our 4-H club will be running the 4-H kitchen at the Barnstable County Fair on July 26 from 11:00 am to 9:30 pm-Come Visit us!

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Grant Update
“The best laid plans of mice and men”-------------up front and honest, we have lost many queen cells during the first few attempts. What’s gone wrong? With many swarms occurring, rogue virgin queens have gotten into the cell builders. The workers will destroy the grafted larvae in the cell cups when she arrives and settles in. Perhaps even the virgin queen lends a stinger in the destruction of our cells.

When creating a cell builder to raise queen cells, the appropriate amount of brood, nurse bees, nectar and pollen must be met. Lots of capped brood and emerging brood is required, which will give you a supply of young nurse bees. If you add too much open brood (larva), the grafted cells will be ignored and queen cells started from the open brood. So it requires a delicate balance which cannot always be met.

But, each attempt is a lesson learned. Once past the frustration, we have successfully split one grant hive and we now wait for the queens to mate and be ready for sale. In the next few weeks more cells will be ready for harvest and more nucs prepared. A request list has been made for cells, queens and nucs. If any of you wish to make your own with your strong colonies, do so and request a Queen Cell which you would add 24 hours later.

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Upcoming Meetings

Sunday, July 15th - Clean Up the Fair Booth Day. Good time to get the place in shape for the fair, set honey prices, get your entry passes, and enjoy a lunch of member’s creative salads and entrees.

Saturday, July 21th to Saturday, July 28rd, Barnstable County Fair. Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, August 13th to Friday, August 17th, Eastern Apiculture Society’s Annual Meeting, held this year at the Univ of Vermont Campus, Burlington. Go to for details.
» Downloard Flyer (pdf)

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Do you want to compete?
How good are your honey, candles, photos, or baked goods?  Are they prize worthy?  Whether you are planning to attend EAS this year and compete with the veterans, or just want to be sure your items are the best they can be, the 2012 EAS Honey Show Committee has made a new page on the EAS website. By investigating and using the material collected for you on the site, you will develop skills that improve all your hive products, whether for competition in local fairs, at EAS, or for sale locally.

N.B . - We are always looking for folks to enter their honey and wax products for competition at the Barnstable County Fair. Local judges will critique your entries and provide helpful hints to achieve a better product. A good way to prep for the BIG competition at E.A.S., or at MA Bee’s Fall Meeting, or to enter the marketplace.

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Special Invitation for B.C.B.A. Members
Steve Whittlesey's blueberry patch will be open for picking Mondays and Thursdays, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., beginning next Monday, July 9 (the earliest picking in twenty years or more). There are eleven hundred bushes, all heavy with berries, and the early ripening varieties (I have nine varieties) are just ripe, so picking will be light at first, intensifying in the weeks ahead. The price will be 3.50/pound, the same as it has been for the last two years. Containers and pails are provided for picking if you need them, but bring something to take your berries home in.

The patch is at 1560 Main St, West Barnstable on the north side of Rte 6A. Except for the number on the mailbox, there is no sign on the road. I open only for a small number of groups, which are notified by email. Park on 6A or in my driveway, which is just before the Crystal Pineapple Gift Shop, if you are driving West. Please don't park in the gift shop parking area. Understandably, they get grumpy about that. Yes, there are some bugs, snakes and poison ivy in the patch, so I recommend long pants and low boots, rather than shorts and sandals. With any luck, you'll see quite a variety of birds and other wildlife while picking, plus a distant view of Sandy Neck

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Tips for the Season

  • Water is imperative as we enter hot weather – bird baths dry up quickly – try chicken waterers with small stones in tray ($6.50 at feed store)
  • Robbing- avoid by not using Honey B Healthy in sugar syrup if you need to feed. You could switch to winter fondant or use the Mountain Camp method of granulated sugar on wet newspaper. Reduce entrances to allow few to ONE bee if a nucleus colony.
    • A wet sheet draped across the front of a hive will help protect and deter robbing
  • Most areas of the Cape will now experience a dearth (lack of nectar). If working a hive, make it as quick as possible, leaving frames exposed for only short periods of time to prevent robbing.
  • Clethera, or Sweet Pepper Bush, will bloom in late July in marshy, boggy areas. With luck, this will fill a few more frames in the honey shallows till Goldenrod and Fall Aster arrive later in August.
  • Queenless you say. Has your hive swarmed? If so, remember that you will not see eggs for nearly three weeks. Your new queen, once hatched, strolls the frames for 5 days then, weather permitting, will mate, returning to the hive to stroll for a few more days. The earliest she could lay would be 14 days from swarm issue.
  • Another reason that you see no brood stages could be because the hive has no stores. Carniolan and Russian Queens will not lay if there is no pollen available to feed the young. This became quite evident in our observation hive a few weeks ago. The cluster size was reduced to a five inch circle on one frame. We added a frame of honey and it was as if a switch turned on. The queen went into high gear to the point that we had to take out a full frame of brood this week before it swarmed. And today (6/30) it appeared to being robbed out. The jar of sugar syrup was removed (will be returned during the evening), and a wet draped over the entrance tube helped quell the riot. Whether you have 2 frames or 20, similar situations evolve.
  • The observation hive is now ready for the fair with no excitement over swarming, and the queen’s yellow dot is quite visible (for now).

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Member Jeff Howard has a complete hive, fully assembled and painted, never used. Interested? Call Jeff 508-888-1016

GOT HONEY???? NEED JARS????? Call Ed Osmun, 508-802-0509 to order your glassware. Ed has ½, 1 & 2 pound Classic Honey Jars in stock. Sold in case lots only.

back to top Last updated 07/03/12