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Buzz Words - July 2015

A reminder that the club does not meet in summertime. But PLEASE read below for info on the county fair and the scheduled bee house cleanup/honey price setting/fair ticket distribution gettogether next weekend.

One spring, a swarm of honeybees settled on my next-door neighbors’ cedar tree in their backyard. The bees chose a high-up limb near the crown of the tree, where the branches are shorter and have thinner side stem branches. What to do? No folding stepladders in the neighborhood were tall enough to allow one to get anywhere near where the swarm settled. As far as extension ladders were concerned, there was no strong trunk nor strong branches on that part of the cedar tree to support the upper end of the ladder. So what did we have? A lost swarm, left to nature’s devices to find its own home somewhere in the wild? Well, almost; but finally, inspiration struck. It was worth a try even if the idea didn’t work!

I took a piece of plywood that was just over the base size of a hive bottom board, then placed it on top of a 6-foot folding step ladder and then firmly placed the step ladder under the swarm as near it as I could. When I was satisfied that it was firmly stable, I placed a deep super on a bottom board with an inner cover. There were ten frames inside the hive body. A dab of honey was placed on the alighting board just to make the accommodations being offered more inviting! Well within an hour or so the scouts and swarm had decided that what was offered would be their new home. By sunset that day there were no more clingers or hangers-on to the branches and no more scouts flying around in the air. They were all inside the hive body. By screening off the entrance, I could now move it to a good location on my property.

Contrary to popular belief, this could be thought of as a “good will swarm.” The neighbors gathered around at a safe distance and proved to be very receptive to some useful information about honeybees and their service and value to mankind.

—Peter B. Cooper

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Julie Lipkin -

BCBA discussion group -

Tamar Haspel -

Facebook page -

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Save the date: Beekeepers’ Ball, Sept. 17, 2016, 5-9:30 p.m. Cape Cod Cultural Center Interested in being on the planning committee? Meet once a month in a mid-Cape location for one hour. Let Kalliope know,

Creating an awareness of honeybees in an affordable, festive atmosphere, fun for people of all ages.

Food and drink, music and dancing, displays and contests!

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SATURDAY, JULY 11, AT FOLLOWING LOCATIONS (9 a.m. start - except Falmouth, which will begin at 10 a.m.) … bring veil and gloves for hands-on workshops … please watch where you are driving, being kind to agricultural plantings. And dress for ticks!

  • East Falmouth (run by Marte Ayers, at Soares Nursery, 1021 Sandwich Road, Hatchville. Location is ½ mile south of intersection of Route 151 and Sandwich Road. Drive between the two greenhouses. Please park behind greenhouses, not in customer lot.
  • Brewster (run by George Muhlebach, at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, 869 Route 6A, Brewster across the street from the museum.
  • Wellfleet (run by John Portnoy, at 60 Narrowland Road. From the south, take Route 6A into Wellfleet and pass along all the turnoffs for Wellfleet Center and Harbor. Opposite Moby Dick Restaurant, turn east (right) onto Gull Pond Road. Travel ½ mile, take left onto Chris Drive. Bear right at top of hill onto Mayflower Drive. About 200 meters at bottom of hill take right onto dirt/gravel road – Narrowland Road (homemade sign). We are second house on left about 200 meters just before you hit the power lines.
  • Barnstable (run by Claire Desilets, at the Cape Cod Organic Farm, 3675 Route 6A. Proceed to top of hill by offices, bear to the right and park near big red barn and on grass behind garages. Please be kind to the area and property, not driving over agricultural species, and be sure to wear protective clothing (veils, etc.), as this will be a hands-on affair.

—Board of Directors

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The work day to prepare the bee house for the county fair has been rescheduled to next Sunday, July 12, with a rain date of July 11. It will give us time to have everything lined up to do and more time for everyone to plan. Planting the shrubs will be at that time for the garden and cleaning the building. Bring your gloves and anything else you think might be helpful. Thanks. We will still meet at 9:30 and bring something to share for the pot luck lunch after everything is ship shape. I will have the tickets to hand out at that time and will mail to those unable to attend. Thanks for all your patience in these rapid changes. (Reminder: Fair runs July 20-26.)

—Marte Ayers

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  • Be aware of robbing as we enter a dearth. If you need to feed because of a lack of stores, use granulated sugar or sugar syrup (1:1) with NO Honey-B-Healthy or essential oils and NO honey shallows on.
  • Remove honey shallows only when full, capped and ready to extract. Do not let them sit around for days, as they will attract small hive beetle and absorb moisture, possibly causing fermentation.
  • Check varroa levels with white sticky board and Crisco or confectionery sugar rolls. If more than 5 per day you might consider treating with MAQS (formic acid). Read up at
  • Oxalic acid dribble is most effective later in season with no brood, as it kills phoretic mites.
  • Enjoy working and visiting the Barnstable County Fair (Cape Cod Fair) July 20-26 and sell your honey!
—Board of Directors

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The Cape Bee program continues to meet at the Cape Cod Organic Farm each week on Thursday from 8 to 10 a.m. There are generally five or six members who monitor our original 15 hives, along with 12 nucs we have made since the beginning of June. On June 13 we were able to host an educational program showing the members attending how to increase their apiary by making nucs with their own hives. We used three methods and all three started with a strong two-deep hive:

  1. “The Walk Away” - We located a frame filled with eggs and young larvae in a two-deep hive and put it in the middle of the upper deep. We then located the queen and placed her in the lower deep, putting a queen excluder between the two deeps. Keeping the queen below and having a frame of eggs above is sufficient separation for queen cells to be built on the frame in the upper deep. This frame of queen cells along with the nurse bees can be moved into a nuc box along with honey, drawn foundation and a shaking of an additional frame of nurse bees 10 days after putting in the queen excluder.
  2. We found the queen and moved her into a nuc along with a frame filled with capped brood and nurse bees, a frame of honey, two frames of drawn foundation and a frame of undrawn foundation. We left the original hive with at least one frame filled with eggs and young larvae, leaving the girls to produce their own queen in the original hive.
  3. We moved a frame filled with eggs and young larvae into a nuc box along with a frame of honey, two frames of drawn foundation and a frame of undrawn foundation. In addition we shook an additional frame with nurse bees into the nuc. These additional nurse bees will ensure the eggs and larvae are fed and kept warm.

In all three of these methods the beekeeper should be able to spot queen cells being formed within seven days. Putting an X in pencil on the top of the frame with the eggs and larvae helps the beekeeper to easily monitor where the cells will be found. Each Thursday we are assessing the hives, determining which are ready to split or have additional deeps added, or if we need to requeen. We are closely monitoring our nucs and will be making a few more in the next two to three weeks. Once it’s determined the queens have a good laying pattern and we have strong colonies, these nucs will be available for sale to members. An email will go out when they are available.

In addition, three members have been grafting weekly using eggs from their overwintered hives. If we do not use the queen cells in the apiary at the organic farm, an email will go out to members and our Cape Cod queens will be for sale.

If anyone has questions about making any of these nucs, be sure to stop by on Thursday and learn the process.

—Lynn Heslinga

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Interested in donating honey to food pantries frequented by veterans and active service members this harvest year? For information and to participate, email Kalliope,

—Kalliope Egloff

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… in which archaeologists digging in a Bronze Age burial mound in the Caucasus unearth 4,300-year-old wild berries, perfectly preserved. Read it here.

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You’ve finished off that last bottle of champagne and brought in the New Year with a bang. Before you turn in, stir a couple of spoonfuls of honey into a glass of hot water and drink it down. In the morning, spread some honey on a piece of toast. Toast can provide you with little potassium and sodium, both of which aid in the task of digesting all that alcohol. According to Dr. John Emsley, UK Popular Science writer and chemistry academic, that hair of the dog cure works only if you drink so much alcohol regularly that you suffer from withdrawals. So don’t make things worse. Have a glass of water with some honey instead.

How can honey help my hangover?

Because of its antioxidant properties, honey neutralizes the toxins created by consuming alcohol. Dr. Emsley claims the natural fructose in honey helps the body rapidly metabolize alcohol. According to Dr. Emsley, “the fructose in honey is an essential compound that helps the body break down alcohol into harmless by-products.” The body uses the fructose found in honey to convert the acetaldehyde made during alcohol metabolism into acetic acid, a substance that is “burned up naturally by the body.”

According to a statement made to Reuters Health by the headache expert Dr. Merle Diamond, president and managing director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, eating honey could help you avoid the hangover headache altogether: “Honey on a cracker or piece of toast, before or after drinking, may prevent a hangover. Honey, as opposed to some other sugar stores, has fructose, which competes for the metabolism of alcohol. This competition prevents the rapid change in alcohol levels that causes the ‘bang’ headache in the morning. Tomato juice, another good source of fructose, also helps to burn alcohol faster, but honey works best.”

Basically honey provides a buffer by giving the body a little sugar to metabolize and preventing the sudden change in blood sugar levels, as well as increasing the alcohol metabolism processes in the body.

So what is a hangover anyway?

A hangover is your body’s reaction to toxicity. When alcohol breaks down in your liver it produces acetaldehyde. This byproduct of alcohol metabolism is more toxic than alcohol itself. Fortunately, its effects on the body are short lived - that is if you only have a few drinks every now and then. Excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time produces enough acetaldehyde to cause serious liver damage, so drink wisely. Women tend to have longer-lasting hangovers than men, as they produce less of the enzyme that breaks down the alcohol. (So ladies, don’t try to match your man drink for drink. He’ll be eating lunch while you’re still hiding in the bathroom.)

Other contributors to the dreaded hangover include lack of deep sleep caused by glutamine rebound. Because it’s a depressant, alcohol inhibits the natural stimulant glutamine, causing the body to increase production of glutamine and causing the brain to remain active even after you have already passed out - hence the fatigue you feel the following day. As for the vomiting, that’s your body’s way of telling you that your stomach is producing too much hydrochloric acid and it’s time to rid the body of some of that alcohol gunking up the works.

—Marte Ayers

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Here’s a smattering of recent buzzworthy news articles, in case you missed them:

  • University of Minnesota has brought on a full-time researcher to study Minnesota’s native bees.
  • The Sustainable Honeybee Program, a nonprofit in Virginia, is breeding hygienic bees.
  • Bee Culture writes about the status of research on bees bred with the Varroa Sensitive Hygiene trait.
  • The USDA reports on Pollinator Week.
  • A Michigan State researcher finds that varroa mites camouflage their body odor to match that of the honeybees, fine-tuning to match individual colonies.
  • 15,000 bees swarm the U.S. Capitol - during Pollinator Week, no less! (

—Melissa Sanderson

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Recipe of the Month
Brioche and honeycomb butter*

(Conversions for U.S. are approximate: Using kitchen scale recommended)

For the honeycomb butter
300 g (about 2 sticks plus 5 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. honey
50 g (about 1.75 ounces) honeycomb, crushed

For the brioche
700 g (7 c.) cake flour
1 packet dried yeast
10 ml (2 tsp.) salt
6 eggs, lightly whisked
90 ml (about 3/8 c.) milk, warm
350 g (3 sticks) butter, softened
30 g (a hair over 2 Tbsp.) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
1 egg yolk mixed with 15 ml (about 1 Tbsp.) milk to glaze

To make the honeycomb butter, beat the softened butter until creamy. Flavor with the honey and stir in the crushed honeycomb. Reshape by placing the butter into a container lined with cling wrap and then place the butter into the refrigerator until firm. To make the brioche, place th

e flour, yeast, salt into a mixing bowl. Using the dough hook attachment, add the eggs and enough of the milk to make a form a smooth dough. Knead the dough until soft and elastic. Set aside. Replace the dough hook with the whisk and whisk together the butter and the sugar until light. Replace whisk with the dough hook and knead the butter mix into the dough. Knead for at least five minutes until the dough is shiny and elastic. Work the dough by hand for a few minutes and then place in a floured bowl. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place in a warm place to double in size.

Punch down the dough and refrigerate for several hours, but not longer than 12. Remove the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide into three equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a sausage shape and then braid the three rolls together to form a loaf.

Place the brioche into a loaf tin.

Brush with the egg glaze.

Allow the brioche to rise until doubled in shape.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 1 hour until done.

* Recipe reprinted from

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Available for new beekeepers: NEW assembled, painted and unused honey shallows, 10-frame, $30 complete (full retail is $40.50) - sale by queen breeders of BCBA. Contact Claire @ if interested.

back to top Last updated 7/8/15