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Buzz Words - March, 2003

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Equipment Orders
4. Bees, Bees, Bees
5. Pollen
6. Claire’s Corner
7. Tip of the Month

Next Meeting: 7:30 P.M., on Tuesday, March 11th, at the West Barnstable Community Building, on Route 149.

Program: This meeting will feature a quartet of our veteran beekeepers with a discussion on Bee Pests and Diseases, augmented by a slide presentation. Hopefully, this will be the only time you see some of these "problems" in your beekeeping history.

Bee School members should attend this monthly meeting as well as the sessions scheduled for March 19th and 26th.

From the President
Welcome to March—only six more weeks until our new packages of bees arrive! I am just amazed we are ordering 200 packages this year. If you haven't ordered your bees by now check with Claire ASAP or you could be out of luck through the club purchasing.

April is our annual meeting and election of officers and directors. Anyone interested in helping run the club in an elected position should contact me by phone or email soon. It is a nice way to give back to the members.

Those who want to help the BCBA raise money at our Pollinator Plant Sale in May should think about sowing seeds this month. Ultimately if we have larger well-established potted plants we can garner a better price tag. Others may choose to pot up perennials from around your yard, which is terrific, just do it early enough so the plants new growth occurs in the pot rather than arriving as wilted and terrorized material for sale.

This meeting is always informative about Pests and Predators. See you then, Geoffrey

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Equipment Orders
Our equipment orders have arrived. The 4 pallets of woodenware, smokers, veils, etc. will be broken down, and ready for you to pick up on Saturday and Sunday, March 7th and 8th. Ed says anytime between 9 A.M. and 5 P.M. on those two days.

If, for any reason you cannot pick up at that time, call Ed at 508-833-9696 to arrange for pick-up at his convenience.

Directions: From the Mid and Lower Cape, get yourself to Route 6-A in East Sandwich, go past Sandy Neck Rd. (Amari Restaurant on your left). Take the next right, between the corrals, onto Meadow Spring Drive, and go to the end. Take a left onto (gated) Solomon Pond Road. Drive slowly, has some frost heave damage on the hill, to the next gated drive at the cul-de-sac. This drive serves 3 houses. Edís drive is the last on the left. Call 508-833-9696 if you have made a wrong turn.

Donít forget your checkbook, in case the freight charges were more than expected.

Bees, Bees, Bees
This is the largest order ($11,000 / 200 packages) that B.C.B.A. have ordered from Wilbanks Apiaries, thru Peter Wilson. Money is due by the March 11th meeting if you have not yet paid.

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Whatís the big deal about pollen? While at E.A.S. at Cornell, I overheard snatches of conversations about pollen. I see occasional articles in the literature about pollen. Every now and then, BEE-L has a thread of messages dealing with pollen. What about it?

People are building boxes to put on hives to take pollen away from the bees as they bring it in. Other people are buying these traps! Why?

Why take pollen away from the bees? Donít they mix it with nectar to make "bee bread" to feed to the young bees? Will they have enough if we take it away as they enter the hive?

Pollen has long been touted as "ambrosia for the gods," and as an ingredient in manís quest for youthfulness and vigor. People claim it is helpful in alleviating seasonal allergies. Is this all bunk? Or, is there some truth to these claims?

Come to the Mass Bee Spring meeting at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Fitchburg on Saturday, March 29th to hear Lloyd Spear expound on Pollen—How to Collect It, How to Process It, and then what to do with it.

Our keynote speaker is Larry Connor, former E.A.S. Short Course director, speaking on Maintaining Honey Quality and also on Problems With Queens.

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Claireís Corner
Never did we ever think we would need to snowshoe in to check our hives! Several days after our Presidentsí Day storm, our back yard and several bogs were still impassable and too deep to navigate. So, with the aid of snowshoes, we trekked in with more sugar candy. The losses had leveled off, stores were ample, and some hives had taken cleansing flights.

Evaluation of losses now begins. Several authors state that cold does not kill bees. But if they cannot break cluster due to extended cold, it appears they will starve to death with frames of honey but a short distance away. Most hives are still quite heavy, but the sugar candy has been consumed.

Disease, weíre sure, still plays havoc with some colonies. Unexplained losses of new packages need closer examination. The test hives of spring í02 did not fare well with IPM techniques. To date, only 2 have survived. Plenty of stores remain. They were wrapped and insulated in December. The only treatment utilized included grease patties, shop towels with menthol, and several had screened bottom boards. Varroa mite levels never exceeded the threshold and drone comb was removed mid-season. Their demise is a dilemma.

Interesting to note that the survivors were the new queens introduced in September, and they were of Northern origin. There is something to be said about fall Requeening and summer splits. Minnesota hygienics, and Ohio Carniolans were the survivors. And Ed tells me his Canadian nucs are doing well. So, why do we get packages each spring from Georgia? That is all that is available in the spring, but, we can then re-queen with northern stock later in the season.

The survivorsí stores will now become depleted quickly due to the raising of brood. If frames of honey are not available to nestle close to the cluster, you can spray sugar syrup into drawn comb and place that next to the cluster. Avoid feeding the pails of 1:1 sugar syrup until at least mid-March. The bees need to rid the excess water and weather will not permit their necessary flights until then. Dysentery can possibly develop with extended cold weather.

We are again hearing of the availability of formic acid and ApiLife Var this fall. Let us hope these natural pesticides will finally make it to market.

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Tip of the Month
This year especially, it is very important to keep on top of the amount of stores in your hives. Get out and check that weight. Open the cover to make sure they are still alive. If so, do they have enough stores? Can you move some frames nearer the cluster? Out of stores, do not use syrup yet! Make some fondant, or call Ed. He has lots made up. Put a slab under the inner cover, right on the frame bars over the cluster. Or, sprinkle granulated sugar over the inner cover, if none of the above are available to you.

If your bees, like many others, are not alive, take the hive apart, clean out the majority of the cluster, and be sure to completely block off your entrances. If you have stores left, you donít want to entice other critters in there, nor do you want to promote robbing when other bees and wasps begin to look around for free food.

Fondant Candy
5 lbs sugar
1 pt corn syrup
1 1/3 cup water

Mix all in a large pot. Heat over medium heat to 240 d. on a candy thermometer. Stir only occasionally- it takes a while. At 240 d, place the pot in a sink of cold water. Change the water a few times. Beat with a mixer, cooling the mixture to 190 d. Pour onto greased (Pam) cookie sheets ľ inch thick. Cool and slice into 4" x 5" cakes. May be stored in the freezer until needed.
back to top Last updated 03/16/03