Current Newsletter
Archived Newsletters

Buzz Words - June 2011


Tuesday, June 14th, 7:30 p.m., West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable. The topic: Honey, how to harvest, extract, and prepare for giving, the market, or competition. Veterans, please bring any extracting equipment that works well for you such as uncapping knives, planes, escape boards and the like.

Juice/ Cider -- Volunteers needed.
Nibbles -- Volunteers needed.

From The President
Stealthily we walked towards the heavily loaded truck. Fog, made denser by curled, trapped smoke, crept along the dirt road a layer of ethereal insulation muting sound. No one recognizable as all were covered head to toe in white, masked and hatted. A scene set for evil and consummated by moonlight; lynching, illegal trafficking, murder and mayhem.

Thrumming, and after a turn in the road, lights. Thoughts of the dark side bidden by preconception subsided as quickly as they had arrived, dispelled by low laughter and camaraderie. Willing workers out on a Friday night made short work of screwing closed hive entrances, caulking ventilation holes, handing down and readying nucleus colonies for further relocation and a final destination.
As orchestrated by Claire and Paul, the delivery of one hundred and fifty nucs full of midnight riders reached the last stage of their journey aided by the cooperative effort of many Barnstable County Beekeepers. WOW!  --  Jan

“We thank you again for orchestrating that amazing spectacle.  I can't stop retelling the story of our ethereal Saturday night, walking through the fog to the loaded trucks and nearly silent crowd of fully geared bee keepers- the spot lights casting everyone into willowy shadows, the sounds all dampened by the fog and everyone's reluctance to break the quiet, the whole unloading process like a smoothly oiled machine- like we had done this a thousand times before, even if it was our very first time.  It felt amazing to witness such a beautiful thing and I was honored to be of help.”   --  Naomi

back to top

Pollinator Plant Sale
Thanks to Jan and all those members that assisted her, to those that brought plants for sale, and to those that bought plants, for another successful plant sale. The monies raised ($517.) are to be divided and distributed to the MeetingHouse Farm and the Eastern Apiculture Society’s Honey Bee Research Fund. A research team from Virginia Tech are the 2011 recipients of this research award. Our check will go directly to the researchers who will look into Nosema ceranae infections in queen honey bees.

As beekeepers are experiencing many problems with queens in the last few years, this research may shed some light on why queens are failing at a young age. This gut parasite may also be playing a role with the overall health of the honeybee colony. Thus, your plant dollars at work!

back to top

Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

There are some very good beekeeping websites that I check regularly, and wondered if they were referenced on the BCBA site.  I looked around just now and didn't see them (except for member blogs), though I may have missed them.  In any case, here is one of my favorites that I would like to suggest to other BCBA members. -  This site from the UK is encyclopedic and very well organized and cross referenced, and apparently based on lots of experience.  Check out for example the page on nucleus colonies:   - John Portnoy

back to top

Proposed ByLaw Change

Changing From:
Dues may be determined at any business meeting. Dues are payable at or before the  Annual Meeting to be eligible to vote at the Annual Meeting. Members in arrears for two months shall be notified, and when in arrears for three months shall be dropped from the rolls.

Changing To:
Dues may be determined at any business meeting. Dues are payable before the beginning of the fiscal year which starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st. Members in arrears for two months shall be notified, and when in arrears for three months shall be dropped from the rolls.

The above change requested due to the confusion caused by the dues not being aligned with calendar year. We will run it again in the June issue of Buzz Words and vote on the change in wording at the meeting Tuesday, June 14th 2011.

back to top

Upcoming Meetings
July 19-24 – 2011 - Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference for information
June 25th – The 5th Annual Mass Beekeepers Association Field Day, at the UMASS Agronomy Farm in So. Deerfield
July 25 to 29 - Eastern Apiculture Society Annual Short Course and Conference, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cranston, R.I.

back to top

The Wilbanks packages are due by Friday, June 17th. We will email confirmation to the recipients. Pickup will be in East Sandwich at 186 Old County Road. (See previous newsletter for directions.) As this is a new source, there is a $10 charge ($85 per 3lb package).

back to top

Request for Volunteers
I volunteer at the Armstrong-Kelley Park here in Osterville.  See for info.

We are looking for volunteers to help with the beekeeping task.  We have one member, a true jack of all trades, who has quite a bit on his plate and we're trying to turn this task over to someone who may have a little time to donate.  He's done it for many years and has done a heroes job at it.  But we're trying to "spread our wings"--pardon the pun, and get someone else to help out. 

"Volunteers are always welcome at the Cape Cod Horticultural Society.  Our small workforce of Grumpy Old Men and Gorgeous Gals at Armstrong-Kelley Park on Main Street in Osterville meets weekly to keep the Park in peak form.  The AKP-- both the oldest and largest private park on the Cape—is a beautiful  eight  and a half acre site of specimen trees, walkways, trails, gardens, Liam’s train, beehives,  a Japanese Koi Pond, and memorial benches and boards. 

Beekeepers and Gardeners of all levels of experience are needed.  We’ve got the hives, tools and plants, what we need is more hands-on-help.   Volunteers normally meet Thursday from 9-12 and alternate work schedules are available.

To learn more, email Dee Chase, or call (508) 428-9936.
Armstrong-Kelley -Where Memories Bloom Forever."

back to top

Barnstable County Fair
The Barnstable County Fair is from July 16th through the 23rd.  We have our own building where we sell member honey along with homemade items; homemade soap, jewelry, and beeswax items, candles along with the famous honey sticks and candy it’s a great opportunity to sell honey at an attractive price.  The past two years' charge was $9.00 per pound. For our "newbees" this is a chance to rub elbows with the more "experienced" beekeepers that will be with you for the shift, pick their brains and also talk with the public. You already know more than the average person and usually everyone wants to just see the queen. Claire will have her observation hive on display.  The time always seems to fly by for me.

Attached is a schedule with 3 shifts per day as some of you felt that a 5 hour shift was too long.  However, for those who would like to work longer, please feel free to sign up for double shifts.  With 4 people per shift there is plenty of time to take turns going around the fair, sample the food and refresh yourself.    You receive  free VIP parking at the front main gate  and  an admission ticket which is good for the whole day.  So come early or stay after your shift and enjoy the whole fair.  You can view the entertainment for each day on and pick the day you would like to work.

Please email me with your choice of day and shift at or phone me on my cell at (508) 274-8754.

There is also a cleanup of our building on the Sunday before the fair which is July 10th.  Bring a dish to share for lunch and gloves, shovels, hammers, etc. The garden needs cleaning up, if Leslie leaves it for us to help before she does it all herself ahead of time.  We usually start about 10:00 AM and are finished for lunch with many hands making light work. We vote on the price we will charge for our honey during lunch. You will also receive your tickets at that time and bring your honey and other wares for sale on this same day.

Looking forward to hear from you,  Marte Ayers

back to top

Grant Update
Queen rearing is in progress and we will email when queens are laying. Both John and Claire have established a list from early requests. Then it will be on a first come, first served basis. If the weather holds, we hope to have queens available every few weeks through July. Workshops are still pending as we await the arrival of our queens.

back to top

Seasonal Tips
Feed 1:1 sugar syrup as long as the hive is consuming it or you have undrawn brood foundation. When honey shallows are on, NOTHING should be in the hive in order to prevent contamination of comb and honey.

The nucs are building fast so stay ahead of them. The 2nd deep should be placed when all but 2 frames are drawn. These undrawn frames can be moved in between drawn frames to encourage the bees to continue building.

Autumn Olive is waning on the Upper Cape, but the Black Locust is just showing white on June 1st. Let us hope for 9-10 days without rain.

Varroa monitoring should be on a monthly schedule. Use the white board under the screened bottom board. Coat it with Crisco and insert for 3 days. The daily natural mite drop should be under 20 mites. Sugar dusting (see will help knock the Varroa count down with little disruption and contamination of the hive.

back to top

Claire’s Corner
It appears that many members have built and are awaiting packaged bees for a top bar hive. This takes a different bit of management; so, perhaps, as the season progresses, members might offer their comments.

Here is our experience so far. We built (poorly) a 7-frame TBH nuc in the event a swarm happened by. The top bars are Langstroth bars with a sliver of pure beeswax attached. This way, we can place in a standard nuc or hive if the pure wax frames are needed. Also, the frames are spaced using ¼" dowels.

Yes! We captured a small swarm on May 2nd and dumped it in. The comb is just gorgeous and 30 days later the 7th frame is just showing a 2 inch piece of comb. The first few weeks we thought we had no queen and then, she appeared; but still no eggs. So, was this a secondary swarm and a virgin queen? Apparently so, as we have just seen our first few patches of capped brood.

This very natural comb must be handled very carefully or it can break off. One cannot flip it over like a conventional full frame, but it must be held horizontally at all times. It is best to keep a second box close by when removing a frame so it can hang safely.

How to feed this swarm in the nuc proved a challenge as these girls decided to not use the front door we built for them. They enter and exit from a small crack in the rear of the nuc. We placed a small Boardman feeder right inside. That worked well and prevented robbing, but recently had to be removed as the amount of comb is expanding.

We have started a power point on TBH, "the Cape Cod Way" and look forward to any digital pics you might send this way to help others in this new side venture.

back to top Last updated 05/01/2011