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Buzz Words - March 2009

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Packaged Bees Are Sold Out
4. Future Meetings of Interest
5. Claire's Corner
6. Bee School 2009
7. The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
8. News from Bee U
9. National Honey Board Posts Research Information on Web Site
11. Annual Pollinator Plant Sale
12. In Memoriam
13. Websites of Interest

The March Meeting will be on Tuesday, the 10th; 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149.  Featured speaker this month is Judy Vollmer, a member of the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension and the County Four-H Coordinator.

New members and registered Bee School members are urged to attend. It will give you a chance to meet some of your fellow members and perhaps find that a neighbor is also a beekeeper.

Documents for your Bee School Text
Temperature Rule of Thumb (pdf)
Hive Inspection Checklist (pdf)

Meeting – March 10th
Bill Brown has volunteered to bring nibbles.
We could use another one or two plus someone for drinks.

From the President
Overlooking the Gulf.  Unfortunately it’s almost time to start our drive back and we don’t mind this at all.  As always, it’s nice to leave for a while, but then it’s even nicer to return home.

Greetings from the Gulf of Mexico.  As I am writing this letter, I am sitting here in South Alabama. For the last few days, I have visited here several stores, especially farm stores, in an attempt to buy local tupelo honey.  Not only did I not find any tupelo honey yet, I did not even find any local honey and nobody was able to give me a good reason for it.  All I hear is that their beekeeper has not brought them any lately. It appears that even here in the South it’s getting more difficult to keep bees.

To me, this shows that it is high time that we start our own queen-rearing project.  We have to raise our own queens from stock that has survived winters in our area.  We have to become self-sustaining and less dependent on southern packages and queens.  Last year’s program on queen rearing by Dr. Larry Connors was a good start.  I intend to try raising queens and I hope that some of our members will also.

This brings me to the second point: In last month’s newsletter it was reported, that the Board has decided that we want to legalize the Club’s status to “not for profit”.  In this newsletter you will find the second announcement of the required change in our by-laws.   Being a not for profit organization may open the way for us to get grant money to implement a solid queen rearing program on the Cape.

Article ( )   - Dissolution of the Association

If at any time, the Association shall dissolve, any Association assets or monies realized through the sale of the Association property shall be given to education and/or charitable organizations, as approved by the Board and voted on by the Association membership according to pertinent Internal Revenue Service regulations.

If this article is approved by a majority of the membership at the Annual Meeting in April, we can then continue work on our application for not-for-profit status.  This will enable us to seek grants for future projects such as queen-rearing, educational programs, etc.

Packaged Bees Are Sold Out
The club’s order has been totally decimated.  But, all is not doom and gloom, because the following sources still have packages available for you to pick up.  We do advise to place your orders soon however, or they may be gone also.

Andy Reseska,  Holliston, MA        508-429-6872

Marc Robar,    Richmond, RI         401-539-0434

Corey Chrisman, Hanover, MA       781-982-5603

Mid-Ohio Honey              Lexington, OH                419-775-6522
    Packages $75 + $18 shipping

Merrimack Valley Apiaries, Billerica, MA           NUCS    $80

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Future Meetings of Interest
B.C.B.A.- April 14th, 7:30 p.m., at the West Barnstable Community Building, Rt. 149, West Barnstable. Annual Meeting, Election of Officers, Question and Answer Session

MA Beekeepers Spring Meeting – 9 a.m. Saturday, March 28th, Coolidge Hall, Topsfield Fairgrounds, Topsfield, MA hosted by Essex County Beekeepers. Opening remarks will be by Doug Petersen, Commissioner MA Dept of Agriculture Resources, Florida Apiary Inspector Jerry Hayes, author of the American Bee Journal’s “Classroom”, Dr John Burand, a UMASS-Amherst virologist, speaking on viruses in bees

MA Beekeepers 4th Annual Field Day, Saturday, June 20th, 2009 - UMass Agronomy Farm, South Deerfield, MA. Hosted by the Franklin County Beekeepers Association.  Mark the Date, details to follow.

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Claire's Corner
The Southern Adirondack Beekeepers Association held their annual seminar last weekend at the University of Albany. Three of us attended the all day program to lend an ear to well-known researchers of beekeeping maladies. The take home message was to get off the chemical treadmill in the hive and increase IPM. Interestingly, Colony Collapse Disorder was rarely mentioned, but Varroa destructor was the pest of the day. Some of the statistics garnered will be related over the next few newsletters, but here is one interesting tidbit.

Ernesto Guzman, of the University of Guelph, Ontario spoke on his recently concluded research on mortality causes in over-wintered bees in Ontario. The #1 cause was Varroa infestation. Following that were low fall populations (8 frames or less of bees), low weight (no honey stores), nosema, and tracheal mite.

Upon arriving home and opening our mail, it appears our winter losses realize the same conclusion. We had sent four samples of bees to the USDA Lab in Beltsville, MD. The results had been returned and all 4 samples were free of Nosema and tracheal mites, but were loaded with Varroa. This was disappointing as we use screened bottoms, scrape drone brood on a regular basis, and dusted with confectionary sugar. It appears that more diligent monitoring is necessary with our management practices.

    Here are the suggestions to keep varroa mites at a sub-lethal level:
            Monitor mite population – any amount over 10% in a measured sample need treating
            Drone comb removal –
            Interrupt brood cycle – cage the queen for 7 days
            Dust with powdered sugar- - early when there is little brood
            Good Nutrition
            Replace old brood comb 4 frames every 4 years.
            Use resistant stock

As a separate page in this newsletter, we have condensed an article found in the July 2008 American Bee Journal. This hive inspection check list should be placed in all textbooks or notebooks and taken to the hive on visits. No, it will not be necessary to complete the list each trip, but is a good reminder of what we need to be aware of.  The 2 1/8 inch by 1 7/8 inch rectangle can be cut from a plastic coffee can lid and will serve as a guide for the newbees when looking for that solid brood pattern.

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Bee School 2009

Next Sessions are:

  1. Honey Bee Pests, Diseases, and Treatments on either Monday, Mar 2nd, or Thursday Mar 12th.
  2. Swarms and Swarm Control Measures on Monday March 23rd, 7:30 p.m. at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Route 6A, Brewster

» View schedule

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The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
by Andy Morris

Due to technical difficulties, will not be continued at this time

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News from Bee U at the Mattacheese Middle School
Busy month with the students!  From making lip balm (root beer flavored no less- 13 year olds don't seem to appreciate the smell of lavender oil!) to rolling bees wax candles, they are beginning to appreciate bee products but have not yet had the opportunity to work the bees and see the labor side of things.  We were able on one warm day to visit the hive on school grounds, open the cover, determine that the hive was still alive, and provide some well needed fondant.

At one meeting we did a blind taste testing of local (Yarmouth Port) honey and Brand X from the supermarket.  Interestingly, and to my chagrin, the students preferred Brand X by a 3:1 margin over my own honey, while the adults we solicited preferred the local honey by about the same margin.  Obviously taste buds mature over time but as I was thinking about the difference in adult versus student reactions I was reading the "Inner Cover" article from February's "Bee Culture."  In it the author discusses the fact that there is no federal (or even state) standard for what constitutes honey.  As a result, apparently honey can be adulterated with any kind of additive and still be called "honey."  Just wondering, if the Brand X honey that the students preferred were adulterated with, say for example, high fructose corn syrup, it might be more appealing to the young palate that typically has all too much exposure to that kind of stuff in their diet.  Another reason to buy local!   --   John Beach

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National Honey Board Posts Research Information on Web Site
The National Honey Board (NHB) recently posted on its Web site a summary of ongoing and past NHB-sponsored research projects devoted to maintaining the health of honeybee colonies. You can find this information by going to, clicking on the Honey Industry tab at the top of the page, and clicking on the Research category. The Research Summary will be updated anytime a project is completed or initiated.  Posting of detailed results may be delayed until publication of those results by the researcher(s).   
New Research Proposals to be Reviewed.   Approximately $245,000 is available for NHB funding of new research to find ways to maintain the health of honeybee colonies.   The NHB received 25 proposals by the February 15, 2009 deadline.  The NHB’s Research Committee, along with a selected panel of industry people, will be reviewing the proposals within the next few weeks to select research projects for funding.

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The club will be placing an order for equipment by March 15th. If there is anyone out there needing basic woodenware and foundation, email me your needs to this address only: before that date.   I will notify you when the order can be picked up and paid for.  - Paul

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Annual Pollinator Plant Sale
Saturday, May 16, 2009, from 9:00 – 12:00, at the Meetinghouse Farm, Rt. 149, West Barnstable.

If you cannot be there during those hours, feel free to ask for someone to pick up your goods or drop them off yourself at the Farm the night and morning before the sale.
If you are making your plant starts, please plan on putting a few more seeds in pots in anticipation of our annual plant sale. Those divided perennials are hot stuff, too!!

Proceeds benefit the further education of now and future Beekeepers as well as funding Bee research.

Interested in helping? Please call Jan @ 508-4238-6949 or email

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In Memoriam
In January the Barnstable County Beekeepers lost one of the founding fathers. Dr. Herbert Graham, of Woods Hole, passed away at the age of 103. He had a long and varied career in biology and oceanography as a scientist and teacher. With degrees in Botany, Phytoplankton and Oceanographic Chemistry, Dr. Graham held many positions around, and out of, the country.

Most notably he was the Director of the National Fisheries Laboratory from 1951 til his retirement in 1970. Through his persistent efforts, funds flowed to update the lab. Also, construction of the Albatross IV, a modern fishery oceanographic vessel took place. Dr. Graham was the author of many scientific papers covering paleon-tology, oceanography, and fishery management.

Upon retirement he enjoyed his longtime interest in beekeeping, gardening, and carpentry. It was at this time, April 1973, that the Barnstable County Beekeepers began their meetings. (Can you imagine driving a Model A Ford from Pennsylvania to Stamford University with a beehive on the running board?)

In 2003, Dr. Graham visited and spoke to the BCBA on his queen rearing experiences. A member questioned how long he had been keeping bees. At that time it was over 80 years and that was longer than most members present in the room had been alive. His secret to longevity was a teaspoon of raw honey each day along with pure thoughts. Thank you to son David Graham of Woods Hole for providing the above information and to member Kathy Elder for her comments.

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Websites of Interest

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