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Buzz Words - June 2008

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Barnstable Residents Right to Farm By-Law
4. Upcoming Meetings of Interest
5. Claire's Corner
6. Pollinator Plant Sale
7. Barnstable County Fair
8. The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
9. Library
10. Honey Ice Cream
11. Web sites of Interest
12. Classifieds

Next Meeting
Monday, June 16th, at 7:30 p.m., replaces the normal day and place for our monthly meeting. We will be at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster, once again hosting Larry Connor who will speak to us about Honey Bee Biology Essentials. Larry is the owner of Wicwas Press, which publishes bee books and sells books on bees and gardening; he is the author of Bee Sex Essentials and Increase Essentials; and is featured in many issues of both Bee Culture and the American Bee Journal.

The following members volunteered to bring goodies and drinks to this meeting: Carl Monge, Serena Watson and Linda Johnson are bringing drinks; Melissa Sanderson, Mary O’Reilly and Olivia & Kalliope promised to bring munchies. Thank You!

From the President
Our plant sale was a great success. Many thanks to Jan Rapp who did a great job in organizing the event and also contributed many of the plants. The early morning showers did not keep our members from coming and buying.

At the same time the club sold the equipment that was generously donated by Pam and John Ashcroft. I am very sorry that the Ashcroft’s had to give up beekeeping due to health reasons. I wish both of them luck for the future and hope that they still will be able to attend our meetings.

It’s an amazing time: Spring has arrived. With the warmer weather and plenty of pollen available, both the over-wintered hives and the packages are doing very well. In most of the new packages six to eight frames are drawn out and it is time to add the second deep. But continue feeding. For the over-wintered hives, the challenge is to keep the bees in the hives and out of the trees. Check your hives on a weekly basis for queen cells developing, and take some action to forestall or prevent your hives from swarming. With the public’s fear of bees in general, it’s just a good practice to minimize the nuisance of a swarm landing in a neighbor’s tree.
Please remember that the June meeting takes place on Monday, June 16 at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History on 6A in Brewster. Dr. Larry Connor is an exciting speaker and it promises to be a great evening. We have many great presenters in our club. However, the Board is trying to get some outside speakers to the Cape to widen the range of our know-how. Please show your support with a great attendance. -- George

Barnstable Residents Right to Farm By-Law
Bill Plettner, the Chairman of the Barnstable Ag Commission, recently contacted me. The commission is compiling a list of farmers in the town of Barnstable and he asked if I could supply them with the names of beekeepers. I decided to let you contact him directly if you wanted your name and addresses listed. It would be of benefit to you in the event that some disgruntled neighbor, or one of those folks that are deathly allergic to bees moves in to the neighborhood and decides that they don’t want honeybees around, you could be protected under a Right to Farm Bylaw. Brewster and Harwich have one, as do many communities around the state.
Bill may be reached at or home 508-362-9741 and cell (works best) 508-566-2988

I have been involved in some of the above situations while President of Mass Beekeepers, and believe me; people can raise a big stink and get towns to think of outlawing beekeeping. It takes a lot of beekeepers with good stature in the community to dissuade the nay sayers.

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Meetings of Interest
Sunday, June 15, 2008
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Queen Rearing – hands on with Larry Connor , PhD., of Michigan, owner of Wicwas Press.
Larry will present a queen-rearing class in East Sandwich. If you may be interested, speak up as the class is limited to 20 and still has a few spaces left.
Members - $15. and bring bag lunch & Protective clothing. Limited attendance, contact Claire.

Monday, June 16, 2008
Honey Bee Biology Essentials with Larry Connor, PhD at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History

Saturday, June 21, 2008
Massachusetts Beekeepers 3rd Annual Field Day, sponsored by the Franklin County Beekeepers, in South Deerfield, MA. There is NO ENTRY FEE. More info to come.

August 4-8, 2008
Eastern Apicultural Short Course and Conference, Murray State Univ, Murray, KY

Saturday, October 25, 2008
Massachusetts Beekeepers Assoc. Fall Meeting and Honey Show

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Claire's Corner
Our focus when entering the hive for inspection usually centers on the activity of the queen. Can we find her this time? How is her brood pattern? Is she running out of room to lay? Are there excess drones spelling a problem with her fertility? Actually, we are feeling guilty as we make our way through the beginning chapters of Larry Connors’ new book “Bee Sex Essentials”. The poor drone is so neglected, yet so necessary, and is quite an interesting member of the family.

Drones are not the beggars we always thought, but upon reaching one week old they no longer need to be fed by nurse bees. At this point they move out of the brood nest and to the outside frames where they can feed on those frames of honey and pollen. It is always a scare when pulling that first outside frame and realizing the number of drones scurrying around. This is normal. They are here tanking up on nutrition and becoming sexually mature.

Interestingly, our hive will average 5,000 drones per season (April through September), but only one-half will reach sexual maturity. The population will vary according to the necessity of the hive. If the queen is failing, the workers sense the decrease in queen pheromone, and create more drone cells for fertilization of any supercedure virgin queen. For the same reason in crowded hives, less pheromone available, more drones are produced prior to swarming.

You just might see drone pupa on your hive’s front stoop during a dearth in nectar. Workers will dispense with drone brood first and will actually cannibalize them when pollen and nectar stores become low in the hive.

In the early afternoon, one might observe lots of activity at the hive’s entrance. Drones need to orient themselves to hive location and each decent day will leave for this activity and taking longer flights. According to Dr. Connor, the mating flights to the drone congregating areas begin in earnest when drones are over two weeks of age, and again depend upon sufficient nutritional stores in the hive. Weather permitting, this activity continues until the drones are over 40 days old or successfully mate, causing a quick, painful death.

Drones can roam 5 to 6 miles from the hive and are not intimidated one bit by venturing into a neighboring hive. Drifting is common and the main cause of the spread of varroa and tracheal mites across the country.
The more we read, the more guilt we fell as drones are sacrificed for IPM measures and varroa counts. So we will keep reading and relate additional tidbits to encourage more appreciation of these ole boys.

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Pollinator Plant Sale
Saturday, May 17th, though rainy, was a good day for gardeners to visit our sale. We took in $564, which is less than past years, but still a good amount. Thanks to Jan Rapp and to all members who brought plants and who bought plants.

The equipment sale netted $531. We had so many folks wanting equipment that we probably would have needed 4 to 5 times as much to satisfy everyone. Thanks to those who purchased, and to those who wished to purchase but could not.

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Barnstable County Fair
This is our last meeting before the Barnstable County Fair and I have a lot of openings to fill on our booth schedule. I thank those that signed up at the last meeting to start the ball rolling. The shifts are:
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11:00-3:00, 3:00--7:00, 7:00-10:00. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 4:00-7:00, 7:00-10:00. The fair runs from July 18th through July 26th. As usual the evening shifts are the hardest to fill but they are only 3 hours. You receive an admittance ticket, which will be good for the entire day so you can come early or stay after your shift to see the fair. I will be checking on the parking situation for this year and will report at our next meeting. The admin. office at the fair mentioned last year that we might have to park across the street instead of in front of the main gate since I need about 80 passes for the duration of the fair. Also, they want the entire schedule presented to them by July 1st. So I really need your commitments early this year. Please

For all our "newbees" -- there are usually 3-4 people per shift, which means you are not alone and can have a short break on your shift. You already know more about bees than the average visitor to our booth so you won't have any problem with answers to questions and you have a backup crew working with you. The most popular question is, " where is the queen"? So you can handle that one easily as she is marked and she plays hide and seek very well.

It's a chance to sell your products, (i.e.) candles, cosmetics, jewelry, and honey. I hope we have more comb honey this year as we are getting more requests for this every year. Also, if you have something to sell in our booth you must work at least one shift. So, if everyone brings in products to fill the shelves, I will fill my schedule!!!!!

If you cannot make the next meeting, you may contact me at or 508-539-1774
Thanks for all your support. -- Marte

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The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
by Andy Morris

It was about noon when Paul came into the house. He had been out in one of their gardens, weeding some perennials and pruning the three fruit trees they had started from seedlings about five years earlier. He had poured himself a glass of ice water and was drinking it with his eyes closed, awaiting a brain freeze. It was curious what he saw when he opened his eyes…a very distorted Patty grinning at him through the bottom of the glass. Placing the glass down on the drain board of the sink, Paul asked, “Don’t make me guess. Just tell me what you are grinning about.”

“I just now got off the phone with the secretary of the bee club,” Patty volunteered. “And I am happy to report that we are in luck. I signed us up for…(insert drum roll)…Bee School, which happens to start tonight.”

“But,” Paul started, “tonight is the final show of “Most Talented”, and I wanted to find out who wins.”

“I’m sure it will be a headline story in the morning news cast,” said Patty. “You won’t be missing anything important. School starts at 7 o’clock. We’ll need to leave here by 6:30.”

Panic set in quickly. Paul hated being uninformed, so he sat down at his Mac and called up the search engine he used the most. The only problem now was he didn’t know what to search for. He tried to think of all that knew about honeybees, and determined that he didn’t know very much. On a whim, he typed in Honeybees, and to his surprise, millions of hits appeared on his screen. It seemed like this was going to take all afternoon…at least. Patty came in just at that time. “Whatcha doin’?” she asked. I thought I’d find out some stuff about bees before we go to school so I don’t look stupid,” said Paul. “I hate not knowing something. The only problem is there is too much information. I can’t learn it all before this school starts.”

“Well, we know there is a queen bee,” said Patty. “Why not start with a search for queen bees?” Paul typed in ‘Queen Bee’ and got nearly as many hits as before.

“Sure seems like there is a lot of information and research being done on honeybees and queen bees,” said Paul. “I think I’ll just look at the recent stuff, since we are really interested in what is going on with the bees today.”

Bee School was being held at the community center next to the public library. There were about fifteen cars in the parking lot when they drove in. Several people were walking up the steps toward the large double doors. Paul, in a slight panic, and Patty, thrilled about the prospect of attending bee school, walked hand in hand toward those same doors.

Inside, there was a registration table. A genial elderly lady and a gray-bearded, wrinkled gentleman sat the table. The lady smiled and said, “Welcome. We are taking new students for our annual bee school. If you are interested, please sign your names on this list, pick up a registration form and an information packet, and go on into the room. You can sit anywhere…it isn’t church, so feel free to sit up near the front. You’ll better be able to hear.”

Paul ’n Patty entered the large room. Paul turned left toward the back of the room and Patty turned right, headed for the front. Their hands separated. Paul stopped, his head dropping. He turned toward the front of the room and shuffled after Patty. They sat on the metal folding chairs and looked around at all the stuff.

Boxes were stacked on boxes. In the front of the room, things that looked somewhat like picture frames were on the table. There were metal tools and things. It all looked somewhat mysterious and intimidating.

In one corner of the room was gathered a cluster of people who obviously knew each other. One could catch snippets of their conversations. Phrases like, “Hurt like Hell…” and “Got ‘bout sixty pounds” and “Gah damn mice, prolly gotta git a cat now” were floating about the room.

Soon a bespectacled lady, about fifty years of age, walked in front of the table and quietly asked for everyone’s attention.
“I believe you are all here to learn something about the art of keeping bees. Let me introduce myself, and some of these other disreputable folks up here with me. I am Eileen, the secretary of the Bee Club. This is my husband, Ben…Ben Dover. As you can guess, I didn’t marry him for his last name. He will be teaching tonight’s lesson with me.

“The young lady at the desk where you signed in is Sandy. And the gentleman next to her is her husband of forty years, Rocky Beach. Both are proof that keeping honeybees keeps one young.

Now, what we will be teaching will seem overwhelming. There is a lot to know about keeping bees. However, most of what you will learn will be over a period of time and by trial and error. Each of you will be assigned a mentor. This person will guide you through problems you will encounter. We recommend that you work closely with your mentor and not look for advise from others, at least to begin with. You see it is common knowledge that if you were to ask ten beekeepers the same question, you will get eleven different answers.

You will be working with animals, even though they may be tiny insects, and because of that, nothing is written in stone. No two hives will be the same. Look upon your hives as children. If you are a parent you know that none of you children will turn out the same. Some of your hives will be a gentle as spring lambs, and others may be quite aggressive. You will learn why these differences happen and how to adjust things to make them somewhat easier. Remember, we do not have all the answers. The school is arranged so that in eight lessons a variety of topics will dealt with in depth. There will be different instructors for each lesson and a question and answer period in case you get confused.”

Sandy walked through the students, about fifteen in all, handing out yellow binders. Rocky counted out papers and asked that they be handed down each row so everyone got one.

“The binders,” Eileen continued, “contain the information we will be covering in the lessons. There is a lot of other information in there also. The single sheet Rocky passed out shows the schedule for this bee school. The schedule can also be found on our website.”

With a big smile on her face, Eileen said, “If you miss a lesson, don’t worry. We will be appointing you some committee. We are always looking for volunteers.” The over-obvious wink brought some nervous chuckles.

The rest of the lesson concerned the equipment they would be needed. There were a couple of things called hive tools. Patty immediately thought they were in big trouble because Paul and tools don’t go together well. When she saw them, however, they looked simple enough. The boxy looking things, called deeps and shallows, seemed simple enough until they were also referred to as brood boxes and supers. And then there were the mediums, recommended if you were elderly or not strong, but it seemed as though no one used them.

On the table there was a pile of sticks, and some rough textured waxy sheets. “These,” started Ben, “are the fun part. These all go together to make what are called frames. They look like this…kinda like a picture frame. And this,” he held up the waxy sheet, “is called foundation. It fits into the assembled frame so the bees can make their cells.

“You will be ordering your equipment next time, so bring your check book,” said Ben. “Also, there will be a sort of workshop next time, while people are ordering, on how to assemble the equipment.”

The lesson ended after about an hour with many doubtful and shocked looking people shuffling about. It seemed as though everyone wanted to talk to Eileen. The scene might remind one of a bunch of newly hatched ducklings gathering around a nearby golden retriever, bonding to the first thing they see.

To be continued . . .

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Please return all books and videos to the June meeting. We need to re-catalog, and assess what needs to be replaced. If you cannot make the meeting, you can mail the items to BCBA, P O Box 808, E Sandwich, 02537, or drop them off at 186 Old County Rd, East Sandwich. Just leave them on our breakfast table.

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Honey Ice Cream
Leslie Lichtenstein sent in this easy summer recipe for us to try:

6 egg yolks, 1/2 cup honey, 1 & 1/2 cups whole milk heated, 1 cup whole milk or cream cold

Using a wisk, mix egg yolks and honey, till well blended
Warm 1 & 1/2 cups milk (don't boil)
Add the warm milk to the egg & honey mixture & then heat the mixture on low, stirring until it starts to thicken. Be sure not to get the mixture too hot or the eggs will harden & the lumps will need to be strained out.
Cool, then add the last cup of milk or cream
Chill over night & then place in your freezer

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Web sites of Interest
Members researching solutions for problems in their hives sent the following sites to us:
And, don't forget to periodically check out Julie Lipkin's blog at:

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Ed Osmun has division board feeders for sale at 50 cents each. He also has Kona Queens available. Call Ed at 508-833-9696 if interested.

There is still a hive carrier and an extractor available. Contact Claire or Paul for these items. As the restaurants say: “Pris fixe.” The carrier sells for $79.50 in the catalogs, we are asking $60.

The extractor, used 4 times, is a motorized Maxant Model 3100, which will extract 6 shallow frames at a time, lists for $799.00. We will accept $650.00.

back to top Last updated 06/6/08