Current Newsletter
Archived Newsletters

Buzz Words - March, 2004

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Claire’s Corner
4. Package Bees
5. Nominating Committee
6. Dues are Dues
7. Upcoming Meetings
8. Tip of the Month
9. Club rates for Bee Journals
10. Other Items for Sale
11. Want Ads
12. Classified Ads

Next Meeting: Tuesday, March 9th, 7:30 p.m. in the small room at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149.

Program: Combined meeting for Bee School and a refresher for the general membership dealing with Bee Pests, Predators, and Diseases.

From the President
I will be venturing out to make a quick inspection of my hives today as the temperature is supposed to be in the mid forties! Amazingly, many hives have made it through this bitter January unscathed, which proves temperature isn't necessarily what kills a hive.

Supering Your Hive….

As new students of beekeeping enter the arena this year the question of supering is prevalent. Starting with a package of bees in one hive body is sufficient space for several weeks. Feeding sugar syrup is absolutely necessary to stimulate the wax glands so the bees will draw out the comb on new foundation. Placing the second (deep) hive body will vary colony to colony and should be utilized when the first hive body has 6 to 7 drawn frames with a healthy brood pattern showing. Placing the second hive body on too soon results in the outer frames not getting drawn out, as the bees will move up into the second body given the opportunity. This can be partially alleviated by moving the outer frames in (swap 1 for 3 and 10 for 7), but it can be disruptive to the hive (Ed note- be sure to not separate 2 frames of brood with an undrawn frame as you risk chilling the brood) and the girls will still be moving upwards into the second body.

Honey supering also varies considerably from colony to colony. New beekeepers may not have the luxury of getting a 'shallow' or 'honey super' on their hive in the first year. Factors, such as the queen, the honey flow and weather conditions will contribute greatly in determining whether a new hive will get 'supered' for honey. Remember, the two 'deep' hive bodies belongs to the hive, it's their brood and their food in there!

If the honey flow is good, rejoice! Other beekeepers may (honey) super earlier. Depending upon your lifestyle and how often you check your hives, one may put on two drawn supers at once during the honey flow to assure enough space. If the comb is already drawn, the bees will fill it sooner, if it is undrawn comb, the girls will need to draw it out first. In a strong hive the girls will need more room. Nectar on average has 50-60% moisture content and bees reduce this to about 18% before capping each cell. If the hive is strong, they need additional space to store the nectar with the high moisture content and as it is evaporated they will store it where they deem necessary in the hive.

I am only touching this subject and our hives are all different, but timely supering is important to ensure an adequate honey crop and to alleviate one swarming condition, cramped quarters. I encourage you all to refresh your minds on supering as we prepare for the new season.

To bee a better Beekeeper…………Geoffrey

back to top

Claire’s Corner
Spring is coming! Right? The word is that snowdrops are out and the bees have made their first cleansing flights. We must be getting closer!

The Southern Adirondack Beekeepers produced an informative seminar this past weekend. Delaying the printing of our newsletter a few days provided us with the following tidbits gleaned from their researchers:

Debris Under the Bottom Board – Wyatt Mangum
Some items spell trouble, others are normal.


  • pollen
  • granulated honey
  • wax scales
  • drone pupal
Potential Problems
  • Varroa mites
  • wax trash/cappings -- robbing
  • seeds/plant material -- mice
  • ants/larva -- dead-out
  • wax moth -- failing hive

Mites will walk off a dry board, so coat with a vegetable oil and question that debris!

American Foulbrood – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow -- Nick Calderone
(Just in time to supplement the information at our March meeting on Pests & Diseases)
AFB spores can survive for up to 69 years! To prevent infestation, consider the following list of hygienic practices:

  • Limit comb exchange between hives
  • Do not use commercially available pollen
  • Sterilize equipment after using
  • Avoid buying used equipment
  • Evaluate weak colonies
  • Remove dead-outs
  • Conduct a colony post-mortem
  • Regularly inspect for detection
  • Prevent robbing

In the April issue, we will continue with “An Intimate Look at Queen Cells”. The next time you cull out queen cells, think of this: 10% of queen cells are started over drone larva. Sometimes the girls are rushed.

As the season progresses, here is a quick way to check the hygienic behavior of your hive. Select a frame with a nice brood pattern. Puncture (with a nail) one cell and the six surrounding cells. Mark the frame with a colored thumbtack. Check in 24 hours. The worker bees should have removed the damaged pupa if hygienic.

back to top

Package Bees
The March 9th meeting will be the cut-off date for ordering bees through the club. See Claire for your package order, or Geoff if you are ordering Andy Card nucs. Payment in full must be received by this date also. Packages are $57. and nucs are $75, which includes a refundable $10 deposit for the box.

Nominating Committee
Along with dues time comes the Annual Meeting and Election of Officers (April). To that end, Geoff will be tapping a few of you on the shoulder to serve on this year's nominating committee. Those few folks will have the decidedly difficult task of selecting potential officers for this great organization; so don't shy away if asked.

back to top

Dues are Dues!
It is that time of year again. Check your mailing label. If there is an 03 there, it is time to send in your dues payment. Such a deal, you get this great newsletter each and every month (along with a few other goodies) for a measly $10 per family, per year. Act now, don't lose this valuable link to beekeeping knowledge.

Upcoming Meetings
Massachusetts Beekeepers' Association will hold its Spring Meeting at Coolidge Hall on the Topsfield Fairgrounds on Saturday, April 3rd, from 9:30 to 4. Speakers will be Dr Diana Sammataro, researcher at the USDA's Carl Hayden Bee Research Lab, in Tucson, AZ. Her topics will cover current research at the bee lab, and "The Softer Side of Mites". Also on the agenda is Deerfield beekeeper Daniel Conlon who will share some of his marketing techniques with us. Dan has ideas that would be useful for clubs to undertake to promote beekeeping in their areas. For more info and registration form, go to or call Paul at 508-888-2304.

Organic Beekeeping Conference will be held on March 5, 6, & 7 at the Pfeiffer Center, Chestnut Ridge, NY featuring Medhat Nasr, Provincial Apiculturist of Alberta, Canada, Thomas Radetzki, program And research director of one of Europe's best research apiaries, and Gunther Hauk, co-founder and director of the Pfeiffer Center. The conference will focus on examining the real causes for the honeybee's rapid decline; sharing the newest research from Europe, Canada and the USA on mite control and organic methods; and outlining approaches designed to improve the bee's health and vitality. Conference fee of $200 includes all lectures, break time snacks and six organic/biodynamic meals. For more info: call 845-352-5020, Ext. 20, or email

back to top

Tip of the Month
March is critical to your bees’ survival. Be sure to keep checking on stores. Heft the back of that hive. If light, feed sugar candy or granulated sugar under the inner cover, right close to the cluster. By mid-month, the girls should be making regular cleansing flights and sugar syrup can be fed over the cluster. Also be sure to keep the entrances free of dead bees. They sometimes pile up at this time and restrict the ability to make those cleansing flights.

Club Rates for Bee Journals
Make your check out to the appropriate vendor and give, or send, it to Paul

  • Bee Culture - 1yr - $17.00, 2 yr - $32.00
  • American Bee Journal - 1 yr - $17.20, 2 yr - $32.75, 3 yr - $46.05

Other Items for Sale
We will have at the next few meetings Ed Weiss’s text "The Queen and I" and the B.C.B.A. Cookbooks will be available. We also have "Bee a Cape Cod Honey" tees and B.C.B.A. polo shirts available. If you would like a shirt, call Paul or Claire at 888-2304 a couple of days prior to the meetings with sizes and we will be sure to have them there for pickup.

back to top

Want Ads
I have individuals looking for used extractors. If you have such to sell, contact me with details and I will put these individuals in touch with you. This newsletter gets wide distribution, so do not be surprised at where the contacts come from.

Classified Ads
Andy Reseska has a 16 Gal Maxant Honey Clarifier, used one season, asking $500. 508-429-6872 Andy Reseska is selling 4 frame nucs (disposable box) with marked, over-wintered in Mass, New World Carniolan Queens for $85, picked up in Holliston, the second week of May. He will also have Wilbanks packages available on 4/23 if that is more convenient for you. See Paul for order forms.

Andy Card (Merrimack Valley Apiaries) is offering nucs to be picked up in Billerica. You can order your nuc with your choice of Russian, New World Carniolan or Minnesota Hygienic Queen. See Claire for info sheet.

Member Frank Smith has a hand-crank 4-frame plastic extractor for sale. Frank is asking $80. 508-291-2911.

Mary Alexander also has a 4-frame extractor, but hers is powered. Asking $100. Mary is at 508-775-7989.

Harry Ritchie is selling his house and moving to be closer to family. Harry has a lot of bee equipment that needs to find a home, or homes, including an extractor, an uncapping tank, a hot knife, and a homemade heated bottling tank, many supers (deep, medium and shallow). If you're looking for an addition to your shop, he has quite a collection of power tools, as well as "cottage" appliances. Harry can be reached at 508-362-9376.

Bruce Mogardo is looking to pass on some equipment that he no longer uses: 50 snap-lock brood frames, 60 sheets of Duragilt brood foundation, and a 3-frame queen rearing kit. 508-540-8789

back to top Last updated 3/09/04