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Buzz Words - June 2012

Tuesday, June 12th, 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149. Honey Harvest and Preparation in anticipation of the great nectar flow soon upon us. Fellow members will have equipment and instructions to assist all.

From the President
Random thoughts while cleaning the burr comb out of my mind

Early evidence of the role of bees in pollination: “Our corn did well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth gathering…They came up very well, and blossomed…” but yielded no pods.” (Edward Winslow, Plimoth, 1621). Corn and barley are wind pollinated, peas are not, and no bees prior to 1621 in America.

Disappearing Disease, Spring Dwindle, Autumn Collapse are terms used prior to 1900 to describe the disappearance of bees. Not to diminish the environmental stress on bees today, but is CCD perhaps at least, in part, old wine in a new bottle?

Possibly the best line from the movie “Queen of the Sun,” “Are we here to keep the bees alive or are they here to keep us alive?”

We may have varroa, tracheal mites, nosema, and limited nectar flow as challenges to beekeeping on the Cape, but at least we don’t have to worry about the threat of bears marauding our hives…Wait a minute….May need to add that too.

Bee sting? Try rubbing lavender essential oil on it.

Put one of my hives adjacent to peas. Seemed like a good idea at the time. However, I learned not get down on my hands and knees to weed there. Seems like those old field bees who didn’t have quite enough oomph left to get back to the hive still had enough in the tank to sting a few times as I crawled along, weeding the rows.

Excellent crop of carpenter ants in my yard this year. Why aren’t they plundered by the same maladies our girls contend with? -- John

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

Disovery Magazine has compiled nearly 50 articles relating to issues and challenges facing bees. They can be read at:

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Pollinator Plant Sale
Many thanks to Jan Rapp and her able assistant, Anne Canavan for spearheading the Plant Sale again this year. Thanks to all of you that brought plants to sell, and those of you that bought plants. Our sales had been down somewhat in the past couple of years; but this year we garnered $769.50, which will be divided up for our charities, Meetinghouse Farm and the Eastern Apicultural Society’s Honey Bee Research Fund. Take note that this year’s recipient of a $5000.00 grant is Tom Seeley, of Cornell University, your speaker in March. The research is titled “Testing small hives as a management tool for producing honeybee colonies that are naturally resistant to Varroa Mites”.

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Lower Cape Doin’s
Mature drones appeared early in April and this May has so far proved to be an early start to our swarm season on the Outer Cape. I heard of 3 swarms in one week from the same bee keeper, all of which seemed to stay low and luckily within hiving range. I've set up several nuc boxes with bait/lure in hopes of attracting a swarm. One swarm, 30' high up in a pine tree, did in fact take to one of the bated hive bodies, equipped with a feeder laced with Honey Bee Healthy. Worth a shot...and paid off. Upon inspection, my own colonies proved that some of my girls had 'leavin' on their minds...' Once I saw the swarm cells, in otherwise healthy queen right colonies, I separated those frames out, formed nucs and placed them in apiaries in hopes of changing their minds. I then placed those newly formed nucs in good drone congregating areas where the newly hatched virgin queen would find lots of dates. Time will tell once I see eggs in the nucs.

Making increase early and during a nectar flow: Based on strong over wintering, foraging behavior and gentle demeanor, I choose a frame of fresh eggs from 2 cloneable colonies and form 2 more nucs for increase. Making my colony increase now may prove to supply me with a good queen on hand for further into the season, if one colony seems lackluster and in need of queen replacement. I'll stay out of my colonies now as much as I can now that I know the brood pattern is steady, checking the comings and goings only at the entrances for signs of lots of young bees and quick trips zipping in and out for lots of foraging. If populations diminish, I'll know it's my clue to go in and take a look around-see that there aren't an inordinate amount of drones with a queen who has lost her way and needs replacement.

All of the strong queen right colonies in my bee yards have had honey supers on them for several weeks, giving them enough room to keep them from thinking about swarming and ample room to store nectar. Nectar is surely flowing here, trees in bloom and lots of goodies from the marsh grasses in swamps and ponds...Upon snooping, at least 1 honey super per colony is about 3/4 full of nectar and the cells beginning to narrow on the edges, showing signs of wanting to close up. It appears to be a decent start to the honey season. -- Rebecca

Falmouth Report
One of my newbee mentees started off with a bang: One of her two hives swarmed a week after introduction. She was among the lucky ones whose packages arrived with two queens! Luckily, she saw it all happen and was prepared. The baseball-size swarm was 8 feet up in a cedar bough just off her back porch, and she was able to shake it right back into the box the girls had arrived in. That swarm went to Claire, who provided a new queen, just in case. But we ended up not needing it. Her second queen was in there and doing just fine, and now she reports that hive is thriving.

I can report that my Langstroth has seemed on the verge of swarming for more than a week, with several swarm cells hatched out. My Cape-raised queen has gone missing. No swarm yet that I can ascertain. Lots of honey in there ... I just can’t figure out these gals. Meanwhile, I have six beautiful combs in my new top bar hive, with capped brood in an enviable pattern. And it’s not even summer yet! -- Julie L.

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And, in Mashpee
My newbee purchased 2 packages. The advantage to this is he can compare how the two hives are progressing. He did everything according to the book but the two hives did not develop the same. One built comb quickly while the other one lagged behind. They only built a 3” circle of comb even though they had plenty of syrup while the other hive needed syrup every week. We couldn’t find a queen so I gave him a frame from my hive which happened to have a queen cell (and yes, in the end (another story) my hive swarmed). Last week we were ready to add another frame, this time from his good hive, since he had not seen any eggs nor larvae; but finally the queen started to lay. We added the extra frame his good hive anyhow. By doing this it keeps the nurse bees working feeding more larvae, the wax producing bees building comb and the house bees cleaning. The guard bees now have something to guard and the field bees need to find nectar. The added frame bolsters the hive also. If you have a queenless hive and add a frame with eggs and larvae to a hive, the bees will build a queen cell if there is larvae of the right age. If you have a queen just starting to lay, it will keep everyone busy and will build up the hive more quickly. -- Marte

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Upcoming Meetings

Saturday, June 23rd, UMASS Agronomy Farm, So. Deerfield. Keep an eye on our website – – to learn the latest, and how to rent a reduced rate room at the local Red Roof Inn.

Sunday, July 15th - Clean Up the Fair Booth Day. Good time to get the place in shape for the fair, set honey prices, get your entry passes, and enjoy a lunch of member’s creative salads and entrees.

Saturday, July 21th to Saturday, July 28rd, Barnstable County Fair. Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, August 13th to Friday, August 17th, Eastern Apiculture Society’s Annual Meeting, held this year at the Univ of Vermont Campus, Burlington. Go to for details.
» Downloard Flyer (pdf)

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Do you want to compete?
How good are your honey, candles, photos, or baked goods?  Are they prize worthy?  Whether you are planning to attend EAS this year and compete with the veterans, or just want to be sure your items are the best they can be, the 2012 EAS Honey Show Committee has made a new page on the EAS website. By investigating and using the material collected for you on the site, you will develop skills that improve all your hive products, whether for competition in local fairs, at EAS, or for sale locally.

N.B . - We are always looking for folks to enter their honey and wax products for competition at the Barnstable County Fair. Local judges will critique your entries and provide helpful hints to achieve a better product. A good way to prep for the BIG competition at E.A.S., or at MA Bee’s Fall Meeting, or to enter the marketplace.

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Barnstable County Fair
The Barnstable County Fair is from July 21th through the 28th. 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. The price is voted upon at the "work day Sunday" prior to the start of the fair. If you have something for sale at the booth, you are expected to work at least one shift.

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. 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. I would like to have 3 people signed up on each shift then fill the 4th if there are extra volunteers. 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.

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“Bee-sentials: A Field Guide”
A new book by Larry Connor (available from is an informative guide on how to correct situations in the hive. It contains lots of beautiful pictures and comments by beekeepers. Being conservative (a cheap Yankee), I found it perhaps a bit overpriced at $29.95; but a helpful guide.

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Contribution from Newbee Farrah

This contains a recipe for making your own feeding stimulant. Farrah says lecithin is available at Cape Cod Natural Foods in Centerville.

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Tips for the Season

  • Feed those packages until nearly all 20 frames of foundation are drawn, or the bees stop taking syrup.
  • Water is a Constant & Continuous must.
  • Watch the brood pattern and read up on requeening.
  • Keep ahead of the Varroa and Small Hive Beetle (BCBA now stocks Beetle Blasters)
  • Integrated Pest Management is critical for our over-wintered hives. Varroa will continue to increase as brood increases. Harvesting drone comb helps to deplete these pests.
  • Swarming season is upon us – – add those honey shallows on over-wintered hives, based on nectar flow in your area. Black Locust is about to bloom on the Upper Cape and it smells heavenly.

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Grant Update
The Carniolan breeder queens have arrived, and after several anxious days (and sleepless nights) they have both settled into their respective hives. At $125 each, we did not want any OOPS! Cells have been grafted. The first round was disappointing, but we have the kinks worked out (sneaky virgin queens and queen cells) and the second batch is growing daily.

Our June workshops will instruct attendees on the making of nucleus colonies and splits. Towards the end of the month, we hope to split the purchased hives and offer nucs for sale. Each queen cell will be $5 to help offset member’s expenses.

We challenge each and every one of you with two healthy hives to make your own 5-frame nucleus colony and manage it through the winter. Many of us have nuc boxes to donate, and the club has some for sale. In late June/early July, one only needs to take a frame of solid capped brood with bees attached (be sure to leave the queen behind), shake in nurse bees off a frame of larva, add a frame of pollen and nectar, and two more frames (drawn or undrawn) to fill the box. Twenty-four hours later, you can add one of our queen cells. We will discuss feeding later.

Watch for email that queen cells are available, or that the grant hives are ready to split up.

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Workshops and Hive Openings
Saturday, June 9th, 1 P.M.
Making splits and nucleus colonies – Bring veils and/or protective gear
Sunday will be rain date, but check with presenters if demo’s will be available

1- Soares Nursery, Sandwich Road, East Falmouth – Marte Ayers ( Park BEHIND greenhouses, NOT in customer lot.

2- Cape Cod Museum Natural History, 869 Route 6A, Brewster – George Muhlebach ( Park in the lot across 6A from the Museum.

3- John Portnoy, 60 Narrowland Rd., Wellfleet – From the south: Take Route 6 into Wellfleet and pass all the turnoffs for Wellfleet Center and Harbor. Opposite Moby Dick Restaurant, turn east (right) onto Gull Pond Rd. Travel 1/2 mile, take left onto Chris Drive. Bear right at top of hill onto Mayflower Drive. About 200 meters at bottom of hill take right onto dirt/gravel road - Narrowland Road (home-made sign). We (Narrowland Farm) are second house on left about 200 meters just before you hit the power lines; street number 60. (508-349-9618)

4- MA Audubon Long Pasture Sanctuary, Bone Hill Rd, Barnstable – Claire Desilets ( Minimal parking in small lot to the left before the curve, or park on roadside (well off the road, please)

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Hive Equipment
I have mentioned in the past issues that we do have some equipment not on the list that I send out, due to donations, no pick-ups, etc.  Some of these are cone escape boards, Boardman feeders, Hive-top feeder (inserts only, no box)
» View Equipment Order Form (pdf)

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Member Jeff Howard has a complete hive, fully assembled and painted, never used. Interested? Call Jeff 508-888-1016

GOT HONEY???? NEED JARS????? Call Ed Osmun, 508-802-0509 to order your glassware. Ed has ½, 1 & 2 pound Classic Honey Jars in stock. Sold in case lots only.

back to top Last updated 03/05/12