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Buzz Words - June 2010

Next Meeting –Tuesday, June 8th,  7:30 P.M., at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149.  Sam Comfort, of Anarchy Apiaries will speak on Less Invasive Beekeeping this evening. Sam runs a grass roots, low-impact apiary in the Hudson Valley of New York. Check out his website at

Many questions come up throughout the bee season. In order to benefit all members, the following format has been proposed by a board member.  Throughout the month, members can email questions to Claire and Paul. At the next monthly meeting, three of the most pertinent questions will be offered for  discussion.

From the President
Pulled into the Meetinghouse Farm on Pollinator Plant Sale Day at 7:30 sharp…Ann Canavan pulled in right on my tail a mere 30 seconds later. We went right to it and not much later were joined by Beth, Corinne and a new beekeeper (name?). Together we arranged, priced, sold and traded gardening/beekeeping stories with each other and the public. The greenhouse was hopping as the Meetinghouse folks had a composting workshop scheduled and Judy Derocher’s gang pitched in when we were occasionally overwhelmed with questions and customers. It was fun.

Meanwhile, not five miles down the road 200 plus packages of bees were being doled out by Paul, Claire, Andy and others. Needless to say things were hopping from sunup to sundown at Rocky Bottum. Another considerably large number of packages were flying out of the lower-Cape pickup site as well.

The whole thing added up to one of the busiest days for the BCBA on record. Whew!

Now, the exciting part of Beekeeping gets underway for those of you who are new to the art of beekeeping and the old hands get a crack at their annual dose of excitement and expectation as well. Along with the excitement come the many questions first time beekeepers will surely have…why are there queen cells in the newly drawn out frame? What is a good laying pattern? Most of the questions new beekeepers have can be answered by a looking through your textbook from Bee School or by posting a query through the internet. But if it is a real person with anecdotal experience you are searching for, refer to the mentor list on the BCBA website and choose someone in your area to help you. We’d like to spread those calls around so one person doesn’t constantly get inundated. If your mentor can’t answer the question they will refer you to someone who will.   

–Jan Rapp

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Tips - Critical to STAY AHEAD of the Bees

  • Give plenty of room to new packages and continue to feed
  • Add 2nd Deep when all but 2 frames are drawn
  • Black Locust in bloom here since 5/22 – add shallows 2 at a time and when adding 3rd & 4th, place UNDER full shallows
  • Dust with Powdered Sugar (1 cup per deep) to knock down varroa count

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Future Meetings
June 26th - MA Beekeepers Association, Annual Field Day, UMASS Agronomy Farm, S Deerfield

July 29th-Aug 1st - Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference, Leominster (info & updates can be found at

Oct 2nd - MA Beekeepers, Fall Meeting and Honey Competition, Leicester
Dr. David Tarpy, North Carolina State University
Dr. Joe Latshaw, Latshaw Apiaries, New Albany, Ohio

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Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

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4-H Junior Beekeepers
The 4-H Beekeepers successfully installed club hives at Alchemy Farm, the Fairgrounds and at a club members house in Sandwich on May 15th. The club hive at the county farm is doing nifty and we put shallows on 5/14/2010. Many thanks to John Beach, who lent a hand when Olivia got stung (he put lavender oil on the sting) putting on the shallows, and also was very kind and generous to lend us suits, gloves, and veils for the club installs. I paid the lavender oil tip forward after buying some organic lavender oil by dispensing it to club hive tenders. One member, Alden, got stung checking on queen status and was undoubtedly grateful for the tip.

Our club is always thankful for donations for perennial pollinators for our 4-H Pollinator Garden at the county fairgrounds, adjacent to the BCBA site, and the 4-H Pollinator Garden at the community gardens on Route 130 in Mashpee. We are also happy to accept any donations of wee-sized and pea-sized equipment. The club has an empty complete hive, if there is a renegade swarm looking for a home. Lastly, we are needing a lot of foundation and frames for deeps and shallows if anyone has extra and would like to donate. Thank you for your support- you would have been proud to see the enthusiasm and interest of the young beekeepers of 4-H installing their hives. Hopefully, pictures to come!

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Mark Simonitsch
Yesterday we visited "Her Majesty's Secret Beekeeper" shop in the Mission part of San Francisco. The young owner, Ms. Cameo Wood, was born and raised in the Berkshires. This shop is a credit to the owner and a source of interest and gifts to anyone who walks through the doors. Hive materials are available in addition to a variety of books, honey, candles and so forth. This link to photos of the retail store gives a part of the story about the "only urban beekeeper store" in the country as it is touted by Ms. Woods. Google provides a number of associated websites for this store. Maybe members of the BCBA would be interested

Ms. Woods sells honey for a variety of prices - up to $25 a pound. I was in a retail beekeepers store in Semic, Slovenia in October 2009 that was not unlike the one in the Mission - although no beekeeper supplies were displayed - just retail products.

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Check Out This Link

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Pollinator Plant Sale
This yearly event generated $540 which will be split evenly between the Meetinghouse Farm and the EAS Honey Bee Research Fund.  Thanks to all that made this possible, whether they donated time or plants, or came to purchase.

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Recipe of the Month
For next the newsletter, I tried an easy recipe this morning for honey butter that works great on muffins & pancakes instead of syrup. Cream together 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1/2 cup honey, and 2 teaspoons of grated orange rind or orange zest. Roll it in waxed paper (make it sausage shaped) & chill. -- Leslie L.

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Spring Experiences
My 5 packages that I installed on 5/14 are all very strong with good laying queens. Eating around 1 qt in 2 days. All got 2nd supers today. Once I saw the queen was laying, after several days, I held myself back from manipulating brood frames to look for her, instead just visually deducted from bee covered frame tops that queen was laying, healthy.

MN queens, I am 1 for 3, due, I think due to rushing acceptance by releasing too soon. (I have learned now to do as you do and let the bees decide for themselves on when to release and accept)However, the queenless hives are all making queen cells. Expensive lesson to learn: plenty of eggs in bee yards to have them produce plenty of queen cells so next year I will know to 'make queens the old fashioned way', from only strong overwintered hives, when there are drones available for mating. - Rebecca

Mary Walsh has the following items for sale: 5 unassembled 10-frame shallow supers, 30 shallow frames w/grooved bottom, 30 sheets of Shallow Cut Comb Foundation. If interested call 508-563-2899, or email

Grant Update
After a frustrating delay, the grant packages finally arrived on April 23rd. The next day, the newbees were invited to watch the installation in anticipation of their own packages. Five members attended the Wellfleet hiving, while 18 members, spouses, and family members clustered around the hives in East Sandwich. The queens were unmarked, but raring to be out and laying. And they are – all six queens have a nice pattern and the hives are building.

Interesting to note that on the Upper Cape, a week after hiving, the Autumn Olive was in full bloom. The hives were taking no sugar syrup and at day 14 they had drawn 7 frames , had a nice patch of capped brood on 2 frames (3” circle) capped honey in frame corners and lots of stored pollen. It has been just amazing to watch the build which required the second deep to be added.

The base hives’ locations have been altered. Due to the concern of the summer staff at the Wellfleet Bay Sanctuary, the hives have been moved to John’s house. The Upper Cape hives remain in East Sandwich as the committee has decided they do not want the hives exposed to pesticides. The queen castles for mating (6) will be farmed out where there is the best drone saturation.

Due to the shipping delay, the project will take time as the hives build. John, Marte, and Claire all have overwintered candidate queens which are being prepped for cells. Our Vermont Russians will not buzz on down til late June and then the serious queen rearing begins, once they settle into nucleus colonies.

The grant committee has agreed to provide queen cells to members free of charge. Laying queens will be $20. And a laying queen with a frame of brood and bees will be $30. This income will help sustain the project and increase our gene pool by purchasing more queens.

Watch your emails as we will notify members of workshops as the season progresses.

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2010 Package Survey
Attached is our annual survey. Please keep a copy with your notebook and complete as the hives build. Return by email or mail to P O Box 808, East Sandwich, 02537 by September 1st.

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Board of Directors
We have booked the next season’s meetings with only January remaining open. We are requesting members to respond with their ideas to complete the schedule. What would you find most helpful and informative? Email and it will be forwarded to the board.

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Barnstable County Fair
The schedule for the upcoming fair is attached. Note the 2010 schedule has been shortened (Saturday to Saturday) and the times only from 12n to 10pm. Think of it as giving back and educating the public. Newbees will be partnered with veterans and 6 members per shift will give everyone a break. You will be provided with an admission and a parking pass. Send your preferred shift in to Marte, and put it on your calendar so that you do not forget to show.

Sunday, July 9th from 10am to 1pm (or whenever you may attend) will be the clean-up, weeding, spiff-up party. At 12n we will relax with our usual pot luck lunch and set the honey prices and enjoy good bee chatter. Tools are always welcome.

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Mn Hygienic Queens
Around the 7th of June, the club should have available another 20 Minnesota Hygienic queens at @$20 each. This shipment will continue to add to our gene pool and should help those that need to requeen or make a nucleus colony. Also on June 28th we should have an extra Vt Russian available for $30. First come, first serve.

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Swarm Lure
To date it has been a busy swarm season. The first swarm issued on May 3rd in Wellfleet. Here is a recipe for a swarm lure to rub inside your swarm trap (old hive, old nuc, elevated 8-10’ high). ¼ cup olive oil, 15-20 drops lemongrass oil and approximately a 1” block of beeswax. Melt beeswax in olive oil, cool. Stir in lemongrass oil to form a paste. Smear on inside of swarm trap and wait patiently.

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Dead Queens ?????
We have had reports of dead queens being found in some packages, but the hive appears to be progressing normally. Occurring more frequently is the presence of a second queen in the masses. This could be the reason your queen was killed or died in the cage. If a second queen is added and killed, check carefully for eggs and larva as a queen could have been shaken when packaged.

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An Organic Adventure
If you’re looking forward to a couple of relaxing days …hop up to Lincoln, Vermont in the Green Mountains. Take a left somewhere along a rural mountain pass…then follow the dirt road and you will find yourself at Metta Earth Institute. An educational retreat center, the Institute gears itself to enhancing contemplative and ecologically sustainability.

Sound fun yet?

Eat all organically prepared food, sleep in all organic bedding, and have your chance of renting a Yurt and learn of organic beekeeping.

Lynn Heslinga and Holly Kaiser returned from two days experiencing the above. Ross Conrad, author of Natural Beekeeping, Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture hosted a 2 day seminar ‘Organic Beekeeping Principles and Practices.’

Interesting? You bet! Ross shared some of his recommendations and those of others including: Leaving only 9 frames in your deep and 8 in your honey supers. The bees will draw out the comb further and in the case of the honey supers make it easier to cut off the wax cappings In the fall, after honey extraction, if you find evidence of varroa mites douse your bees with Honey Bee Healthy or Pro Health at 4x the recommended mix. This encourages your bees to groom themselves and each other helping to knock off those pesky mites.

We learned of a book titled, "Toward Saving the Honeybee by Gunther Hauk." It covers many topics about beekeeping including swarming. The author considers swarming a “powerful and vibrant expression of a healthy, well-functioning bee colony.” This activity is a positive “demonstration of their sublime instincts and social organization.” Swarming is the “very antithesis of the desire to sink into comfort.” He was inspired to consider the following scenario between Ma and Pa,

“Isn’t it nice what we have accomplished? Yet somehow I feel that if we take it easy and relax too much, we will stop developing our human potential to the fullest. Why don’t we leave all of this to the children? They will be blessed and challenged with our gift and will surely not use up, but further develop, all that they have received from us. Let’s take a modest amount out of our bank account and move on. Let’s see if we can find ourselves a new place where we can begin building once again. You know, I feel that I am only true to my life’s purpose when I live in creative activity.” And Ma’s eyes would light up and she would say: “you are right, my love. Let’s go.”

We concluded one huge advantage of living on Cape…NO BEARS! In order to keep these guys from stealing your honey you have to wrap your hives with large metal straps and surround your hives with solar powered electric fences. And sometimes these protective measures don’t keep the bears out. Ross’ approach to beekeeping is keeping it simple and nature will take her course. As all beekeepers find out sooner rather than later, for every question there are five different answers from five individual beekeepers. Ross shared his many organic approaches but was also informative about what other methods are being used today.

We took our course, and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure.

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