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Buzz Words - June 2007

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Upcoming Meetings of Interest
4. Dana Stahlman
5. Claire's Corner
6. Cape Cod Beekeeping Blog
7. Andy's Rambling
8. Pollinator Plant Sale
9. Seasonal Tip
10. Classifieds

Next Meeting
7:30 P.M., Tuesday, June 12th, at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149.
This meeting will be an extension of bee school. Now that the hives are established, questions abound. Part of the meeting will be open to “newbee” questions and “veteran” answers. The remainder of the evening will be dedicated to honey, extraction, bottling, and exhibiting at the fair. Does your honey qualify for a prize? Bring a jar and have it tested with a refractometer and polarimeter.

Melissa Sanderson and Mary O’Reilly will need a little help with soft drinks and munchies.

Next Meeting
The July meeting will be held at the Bee Building on the Barnstable County Fairgrounds in E Falmouth on Sunday, July 15th. The building will be cleaned and readied for the fair, a potluck lunch will be had, and those in attendance will set honey prices for the fair.

Annual Survey
» Barnstable County Beekeepers 2007 Survey (pdf)

From the President
As I write this on Memorial Day we are finally having "Spring" on the Cape, or directly from Winter to Summer.  My bees are enjoying the warmth as much as I am although I'm not entirely happy with the slow brood rearing in my surviving hive.   My new "nuc" is doing great guns in that department so that makes me happier.

This is our last meeting until September as July is the county fair and we lend a hand with any preparations we need to do to the building in place of the meeting.  Then August we have off to hopefully harvest honey.  I'm looking forward to our county fair July 20-27 as I find it fun and exciting to chat with the public about our bees and their products, along with seeing the fair. So start preparing your products to sell at the booth and enter the fair's contest with your products. It would be nice to see more entries and competition.  I will have some brochures to hand out at the meeting but you can go online at for their rules. 
I have lots of empty slots to fill in with volunteering at our booth/building during that time. I will have the sheets at the next meeting.  A reminder:  you get a free entry pass and parking for the day so you can see the entire fair before or after your shift.  If I have 3-4 people on a shift you can even have a break during your shift to poke around a little.

Please phone 508-539-1774 or email me: with your desired time slots.  The times are as follows:     

Monday through Thursday the shifts are from 4:00pm to 7:00 and 7:00 to 10:00
The Friday, Saturday and Sunday shifts are from 11:00am to 3:00pm, 3:00 to 7:00 and 7:00 to 10:00.

Anyone selling products must do at least one shift.

A fun-filled summer to all of you on the Cape.  --  Marte

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Upcoming Meetings of Interest
Saturday, June 23rd, UMASS Agronomy Farm, South Deerfield, 9 AM to 3:30 PM., hosted by Franklin County Beekeepers Association and The Massachusetts Beekeepers’ Association. Workshops for beginning and experienced apiarists will be presented by Mass beekeepers and experts in other fields from the New England region.   For more info, see the attached registration form (pdf) . Or contact Paul Desilets at

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Dana Stahlman
The Doolittle Method of Queen Rearing is the standard method used by most modern professional queen producers in the United States.  There are several reasons for this:
1)  It is very dependable once the techniques of grafting is learned, 2) scheduling and management of queen production can be easily planned, and 3) the queens produced are of high quality if the cell builder is well supplied with necessary food.

queenThe first step in grafting a young larva (12 to 24 hours old) is to be able to identify the proper age of the larva.  When an egg hatches it lies over on its side and is very small.  The nurse bees will begin to feed it immediately.  It will increase in size very quickly over the next two days.  So what you are looking for is a young larva much like that pictured to the left.  Note that the larva has not yet reached a complete “C” shape.  As the larva grows it will begin to fill the cell – any larva that completely fills the cell is too late in development to raise good queens.  One can practice grafting the larger larva and then adjust your skill to the smaller larva.  Good eyesight is a must in transferring the larva from its birth cell to an artificial queen cell cup.

I am not going into a complete discussion of queen cell cups.  They can be purchased in either beeswax or plastic or you can make your own.  The various styles will vary slightly.  Check out the bee catalogs.  For each larva to be transferred you will need a queen cell cup.

You will need a grafting needle of some type.   One of the popular styles is called the Chinese Grafting tool.  It is inexpensive ($3.25 in the Mann Lake Catalog).  Another in popular use is the metal German Grafting tool  ($11.95 also in the Mann Lake Catalog).  I often use a grafting tool that I made myself from a paper clip.  The key to the use of the needle is the tip, which must slide under the young larva without causing injury to the larva.  The larva floats on a small bed of royal jelly and the tip of the grafting tool must be small enough to slide or slip under the larva for it to be picked up and transferred to the cell cup.   Many individuals become quite discouraged when their grafting efforts seem to fail.  The chief reason for this is damage to the larva during the transfer process and it does take some time to acquire the feel and touch to do it properly.  The reason the Chinese tool has become popular is that the tip is flexible and slides under the larva easily and transfers the larva to the cell cup with a nifty spring loading sliding tip that moves the larva off the tip when the spring is released.    A good web site to visit to see pictures of the grafting process is

The cell building hive is the same as described with previous queen rearing methods.  It will require a lot of young bees, food, and be in a condition to raise the grafted queen cell cups with young larva into queens.   Remember that each queen cell produced by the cell-building hive must have a separate small hive of its own in order to survive and mate.

The final article will be about nuc management and a conclusion.

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Claire's Corner
“CCD” – last update on MAAREC website was mid-May and research is still centered on stress, pathogens, and neonicotinoids. Another website with information is

BCBA Survey 2007 - more copies will be available at the June meeting, or by emailing us for a return copy. We really need more than 20 replies to realize any findings of value.
» Barnstable County Beekeepers 2007 Survey (pdf)

“Newbees” and new hives – those of us with used equipment and drawn frames forget the time required for a new package to draw out cells on foundation. We are watching the club’s new package build and it now covers four frames with that beautiful yellow comb/wax.  5/31/07 should have been the low population point in your hive if following George’s hive graph. From here forward you will have so many more mouths to feed! Watch that feeder and replenish quickly when empty. Those with bucket feeders, use your honey shallows after placing on the second deep with frames.

It appears the number is up on queens superceding in both packages and nucs. Five in our yard alone are sporting queen cells.  This is probably due to the weather down south when the mating occurred. This is a much better situation than laying workers. Both of these call for a slow rehabilitation.  If you hive swarms, the same situation exists. That new queen needs to hatch, rest, mate, rest again, lay eggs, and then you can watch new brood hatch 21 days later. That is a total downtime of 6-7 weeks. Patience is in order unless you requeen. If you fail to find all queen cells, requeening will fail. We prefer to let the bees do their own thing and make a decision to requeen later based on performance.

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Cape Cod Beekeeping Blog
 Member Mark Marinaccio has started a blog, open to BCBA members.  Comments can be left by clicking on the comment note at the bottom of the page.  Check it out!

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Andy's Ramblings?
On Feeders and Bee Space

As with most of the beekeepers in the world, I have tried various methods of feeding my hives, both in the spring and the autumn. I began using an entrance feeder because it came with the used equipment with which I began my hobby. I was told, eventually, that this type of feeder encourages “robbing” of this hive by a stronger hive because the feeder is outside the hive and more difficult to defend. This may or may not be true, but it could attract yellow jackets in the fall. This type of feeder is much easier to use. Refilling it is a breeze, and there is no problem knowing the level of syrup. As a matter of fact, if your hives are in a location where there is no readily available water, a most important resource during the hot summer months, this feeder is excellent for providing that water.

I graduated to a bucket feeder. This is a very effective method of bathing your hive in syrup if the cover is not on tight. It also requires a “bucket” which has rather rigid sides. Some of my feeders of this type flexed so much they never created a vacuum and tended to leak. These also required more hardware, empty boxes which needed to be bought or made, and then maintained and stored when not in use.

I have tried the plastic bag technique. ‘Nuff said.

Enter the division board feeder. The advantages of this type of feeder are many. One of the main advantages is there is no need to open the entire hive to refill it. Simply slide the inner cover over far enough to expose the feeder and the pour in the syrup. Of course, one would need to know the location of the feeder within the hive. There is probably a law by Murphy, or should be, to cover this type of feeder. It is inevitable that the feeder is either on the other side of the hive from where you thought it was, or is in the other deep. Perhaps both. And in the autumn, when you gently slide inner cover or the top box over to expose the feeder, after breaking it free from the gobs of gummy propolis sticking everything together, sixty thousand confused and pissed-off bees want to know what is going on. Of course there are also disadvantages to this type of feeder. Many bees tend to drown in the syrup. So now we have to breed queens not only for hygienic behavior but also with a propensity for doing the backstroke. Using this feeder, if one leaves it in the hive all year, reduces the brood space usually by two frames. This allows the chamber to become crowded more quickly, encouraging swarming. When this type of feeder is empty, the bees tend to fill it up with comb, which brings me to the topic of this ramble.

I now have begun buying hive top feeders. In reality, these are improved bucket feeders, but much more expensive. Being a frugal person, I bought only the plastic inserts this year. I was thinking of making my own boxes instead of buying the boxes available in the catalogs. I started to cut down some of my old “punky” deeps and use them, but finally decided to simply use shallow boxes, thinking that, when feeding time was finished, the honey flow would begin. I could remove the feeder insert and install empty frames for the bees to fill. The trouble with using shallow boxes is, they violate “bee space”, that three eights of an inch the bees leave for movement. Two of my new packages this spring decided to fill this extra space with comb. They did it so quickly, that by the time I went to remove the feeders, there was not only nectar stored in the cells, but thousands of brood, capped. The freeform comb was so convoluted that I wasn’t sure if the queen was in it, making it impossible to scrape the comb off. What a mess!

Guess I’ll have to make those boxes for this fall after all. Bee space must be observed, or things might get complicated.

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Pollinator Plant Sale
The final tally was just under $500. on a drizzly Saturday.  Actually, the day was a gardener’s delight to shop and plant. Low participation, with lush greenery, was not a compatible mix. Did everyone forget?


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Seasonal Tip
Check for swarm cells* - calls are already coming in. Honey shallows should be on those over-wintered hives and early April packages. The Black Locust began blooming on the upper cape on 5/29/07 and will have a ripple effect heading down cape as the warm weather continues.   *Better yet, keep a step ahead with plenty of area for expansion.

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Ed still has some queens for sale. He reminds you to call him to be sure he still does before you kill the old one.  He also is selling off his division board feeders for 50 cents each.  His cell is 508-802-0509

back to top Last updated 06/02/07