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Buzz Words - June 2009

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Hive Openings
4. Annual Pollinator Plant Sale
5. Claire's Corner
6. Barnstable County Fair
7. The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
8. News from Bee U
9. Upcoming Meetings of Interest
10. Bumble Bee Study
11. Summer Tips
12. Classifieds

The June Meeting will be on Tuesday, the 9th; 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149. This meeting will be a Q & A session for new beekeepers and old, swarm stories, how to make nucs and splits, requeening, how to prepare your honey for competition and market, and whatever other questions you may have.

Julie Lipkin has nibbles.  We need drinks

Don’t forget to periodically check out member Julie Lipkin’s blog, AND add your comments to let her know that your are in fact reading her efforts.

From the President
A famous German author coined the phrase: “First: Things turn out differently, Second: then you think”.

In last month’s letter I mentioned that I added a borrowed frame with eggs and young larvae to one of my queen-less hives in the hope that the bees would make a new queen. In the meantime, I had ordered a queen from Georgia, just in case. After a week, on a cool and rainy day, I opened the hive and, considering the weather, I only took out the frame, which I had added. No queen cells, no success. Another week later, at 6:30 AM the telephone rang: The queen was at the post office. It was again a cool rainy morning (were all the mornings cool and rainy?). When I opened the hive, I wanted to check which frame I could remove to make room for the queen cage. Much to my surprise, almost 5 frames were full of capped and uncapped brood. My “queen-less” hive never was queen-less and I remembered that Claire once had told me that on rare occasions, a young, mated queen can be in the package. When this happens, the bees are not interested in a new queen and let her starve to death in her cage.

So, that morning in the rain, I had to steal some brood frames from my already weak start-up hives and assemble a nuc.. Today, I am happy to report that all my hives and the nuc are doing as well as can be expected. There is never a dull moment in beekeeping. - George

Hive Openings
Sunday, June 14th, 1 P.M. – BOTH LOCATIONS

LOWER CAPE –Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, 869 Route 6A, Brewster Park across from the museum on the SOUTH side of Rt 6A
UPPER CAPE – Old County Rd, East Sandwich, on Cranberry Bog opposite the E Sandwich Post Office Park on Old County Rd. Watch for BEE sign
Newbees and all welcome

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Annual Pollinator Plant Sale
Thanks go to Jan Rapp, Ann Canavan, Judy Derocher of Meetinghouse Farm, and to all who donated plants, came and bought plants and otherwise lent their support. This year’s sale grossed $ 574.50. Proceeds will be divided as directed by the board for various honey bee research endeavors

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Claire's Corner
Preparing for Winter – No, we have not gone over the edge due to the weather this spring! But, every time we work or visit the hive now, we need to think ahead for the long, cold winter months.

Queen – is her pattern solid and consistent? Are her daughters pleasant to work?
Undrawn comb – provides no insulation in a hive. Rotate those toward the center and move full frames of honey towards the outer walls as the season progresses.
Damaged equipment? – repair or replace, holes mean cold leaks
Monitor for that pesky varroa destructor – Apply a layer of Crisco to your sticky board and insert it for 3 days. Over 50 varroa/day on the board merits a treatment of some form. Consider powdered sugar dusting monthly to knock down additional varroa. One cup of confectioner’s sugar per hive body, sprinkled over top bars and brushed down between the frames. Works best when brushed through window screen over an open hive body.

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Barnstable County Fair
July 17th to 25th
This is B.C.B.A.’s top fundraiser and educational event. Our building needs to be spiffed up prior to opening; gardens need tending; volunteers needed for 4 hour shifts to dispense their knowledge of beekeeping to the eager ears of the public; honey, creams, lotions, candles and wax are needed for sales; and, look heavenly for “fair” weather.

A new observation hive is ready with a gorgeous Italian sporting a “Granny Apple” green tiara. Come mid-July it will be bursting with all stages of brood to the amazement of all those young eyes.

Marte will be at the June meeting with her schedule chart ready to accept your reservations for time blocks. Just remember that no matter how “green” you may feel, you will still be able to answer most of the public’s questions about bees. No “newbee” will be on a shift without a veteran alongside.

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

The strongest honey flow was well over. Coming up in the lives of beekeepers was the much-anticipated County Fair, an event that allowed the general public to reconnect with the agrarian heritage, which started this country. Of course the chickens were very popular with the children, as was the rest of the livestock. There were demonstrations of all sorts, including a Ferrier, a blacksmith, demolition derbies, and all manners of musical talent. But the most popular place to visit was the Bee House. This was a small building that was focused on educating the public to the value of the honeybee.

The most recent newsletter listed the names of volunteers and the times they offered to work in the booth. Paul was transferring schedule to their calendar when Patty came into the room.

“What’cha doing?” she asked as she raised on her tiptoes and tried to peak over his shoulder.

He turned his head so that their noses were touching and their eyes were locked. “I’m putting on the calendar the dates and times we are needed to the Bee Booth at the County Fair. I don’t want to miss any. I’m really psyched about explaining all the stuff we learned this year to all those people, especially the kids.

“The newsletter has us working with different people of different dates. On Monday, the tenth, we will be working with three people. Their names are Juan Derful, Ellie Faunt and Herb Gardener. Then on the thirteenth, we are with three other people: Jay Walker, Terri Saur and Carrie Onn.”

When Monday arrived, Paul was a nervous wreck. He hadn’t slept all that well and had had too many cups of coffee with his breakfast. Consequently, Patty insisted on driving to the Fair Grounds. Theirs was the eleven o’clock to three o’clock shift, and the place was already humming when they arrived. Paul was reminded of the organics of farming when they passed the pens containing the pigs. The chicken barn was sounding like a psychedelic choral arrangement from a bad late-sixties movie. With the horses neighing, the donkeys braying, the cattle lowing, and the babble of all the people, Paul was instantly reminded of a song by folk singer Bill Staines called, A Place in the Choir (note: It is a really great song, look it up).

Upon entering, Paul saw the educational displays, the shelves crowded with jars of honey of different shades, and the focal point of the experience…The Observation Hive.

“There she is! Do you see her?” asked one youngster. “She has a (insert appropriate color here) spot on her back!”

“Move OVER!” shoved a young lady to her brother. “How can I see anything when you’re hogging the whole thing?”

Paul strode over quickly and placed a hand on the top of the glass sided hive to steady it. He was worried that one accidental bump might topple the hive and several hundred disoriented and displeased honeybees would be anxious to blame someone for their discomfort.

“There are two sides, you know,” Paul said as he kneeled so as to be able to look the children in their eyes. “Plus, the queen might be on the other side.” He then asked them their names, which were Tom and Allie Katz, and what grades they were in. His ice-breaking questions had more of a calming effect than the harsh and sarcastic words their mother had thrown their way. The conversation that followed between the three of them was surprisingly intelligent, bringing more questions from the children, both questions and answers from Paul, and a huge smile to Patty’s face.

During their break, Paul ‘n Patty visit the exhibits by local gardeners who were proud to display their vegetables and flowers. They saw incredible photography, fabulous quilts, and wonderful endeavors by the 4-H group. The day was powerful. The passions they saw from the exhibitors, and the pleasure they saw on the faces of all the people who were there made Paul ‘n Patty anxious for their next shift.

To be continued . . .

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News from Bee U at the Mattacheese Middle School
They are both vulnerable and resilient.
They are both aggravating and rewarding.
Economically they may not be the shrewdest investment we’ve ever made.
They raise many more questions than we can answer.
Their moods go from docile to angry.
They seem to have more maladies than we can imagine.
They have unbelievable energy.
They seem to love sugary things above all else.

I might be talking about bees but I guess I could also be talking about kids. For the past 6 months Bee U has had these two baffling species working together. And while I still have more questions than answers about each, this is some of what has happened when a bunch of middle schoolers have had a chance to assemble a hive, install a package, tend the hive and make bee related products.

A child with language problems dons a bee suit and confidently smokes the hive before taking the cover off.
A child who can’t sit still gets real focused when handling a frame flush with bees.
A shy child challenges teachers to a honey “taste test.”
An aggressive child gently extends a gloved finger to a wayward bee and gently places her back in the super.

What is going on here? Fancy terms for this might include “strength based education,” “positive youth development,” or “natural intelligence.” Regardless of the label, good things happen when we give kids a chance to be successful. There are probably many ways to do this. But for this group of kids, “messin’ around” with bees has been a remarkable experience.

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Upcoming Meetings of Interest
Saturday, June 20th, MA Beekeepers Field Day, held at the UMASS Agronomy Farm in Deerfield. It is an early rising and a bit of a ride, but the program is definitely worth it. Don’t take my word for it, ask Andy Morris or Mary Walsh, or Bobby Waldron. Program info online at

August 3rd to 7th, EAS Annual Short Course and Conference. Another GO TO event. All Details and registration form online at

Mass Beekeepers’ Fall Meeting and Honey Competition will be held Saturday, October 17th , hosted by the Worcester County Beekeepers, held at the Leicester Knight’s of Columbus Hall. Featured speakers are Marla Spivak and Heather Mattila.

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Bumble Bee Study
We have had a request for assistance on a Bumble Bee study from a graduate student at the University of Georgia.
» View more information and the survey (MS Word)

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Summer Tips

  • Feed new hives till all frames are nearly fully drawn, or the hive has its own source of nectar.
  • Place honey shallows on when all but a few deep frames are drawn.
  • Monitor for varroa using sticky boards per text book.
  • Employ the Hive Inspection Checklist that was posted in the March issue of Buzz Words
  • Seriously consider a summer split or nuc.

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5 FRAME NUC BOXES for sale  (used only once) Great for quick splits or swarm catching.   $10.00
Call Claire and Paul @ 508-888-2304  Can bring to May meeting.

Honey B Healthy is available $20/pint at meetings and at bee pick-up in East Sandwich.

back to top Last updated 06/01/09