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Buzz Words - March 2011

Tuesday, March 8th,  7:30 p.m., West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable.   “Michael Talbot, co-owner of Talbot Ecological Land Care based in Mashpee and a nationally recognized pioneer, practitioner and educator of ecological landscaping, will discuss how the principles and practices of ecological lawn and landscape care can also enhance the local environment for bees, including for bees we keep and the many native bee species all critical to our environmental food web.”  The recipient of the “Environmental Champion Award” by the Association to Preserve Cape Cod and a former beekeeper himself, Michael will offer a PowerPoint presentation including a range of ideas that anyone can implement in their own green space—and can promote throughout their neighborhood.”

Juice/ Cider -- Volunteer needed.
Nibbles -- Volunteer needed.

From The President
Birds and Bees

Yesterday was a chill, gusty but fabulously clear February day. While walking with friends we were treated to the unusual sight of many birds launching into the air from the woods on Meadow Point. Up and over Popponesset Bay they swirled, joined by another group and then another that appeared from further down the coast. Soon there were over 300 gulls diving and whirling while they still maintained a rather tight knit group about 200 feet over the water. At first they made no sound and then only a squawk here and there…a very silent show. This was not a feeding frenzy, I have witnessed that before, and rather, it seemed to be some kind of joyous social behavior. The display put me immediately in mind of what might happen in drone congregation areas and I began to contemplate upon the comparative behavior between and across species.

For me this interconnected thinking defines the joy of beekeeping. Becoming entangling in a web that gives substance to the flap of the butterfly wing is where I want to be and where I want to bring those I have occasion to teach.

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

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Creamy Honey Sesame Dip = good with veggies
3/4 cup nonfat mayo
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup creamed honey
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1-2 tablespoons grated ginger root
1 small minced garlic clove
3/4 tsp oriental sesame oil
1/4 tsp crushed red peppers
salt/pepper to taste
Whisk together-stores up to one week Note: liquid honey makes the dip too thin for veggies Marte

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Upcoming Meetings
March 26th - Save this date. Massachusetts Beekeepers Association Spring Meeting, to be held at the Topsfield Fairgrounds. Registered Bee School members receive free admission. Check us out at
April 12th - Bruce Gordon, M.D., Beesting Allergies
May 10th - Pollinating Plants on Cape Cod – Sue Phelan
May 14th - Pollinator Plant Sale, @ Meetinghouse Farm, Rt. 149, W Barnstable. Club fundraiser
June 14th - Honey Harvesting and Preparation
July 25 to 29 - Eastern Apiculture Society Annual Short Course and Conference, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cranston, R.I.

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From the 4-H Club
First we would like to thank Andy Morris for his generous donation to the club! Thank you Mr. Morris.

Our last meeting was spent preparing for the upcoming VP’s(visual presentations) which will take place at the Barnstable/West Barnstable Elementary School on march 4th at 6:30. Each member chooses a topic and prepares a short presentation including a poster or tri-fold panel and is judged on his or her knowledge of the subject and the presentation of the material.

Also, we know of at least one of the 4H hive that has made it through the winter so far. The bees in the Forestdale hive were out and flying (and stinging) with the last warm weather we had. Hopefully they will hold on until the spring.

Isabella Gall, Secretary, 4H Beekeepers.

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Nuc Boxes
We still have several nuc boxes on hand. We will again have some available for sale ($25.00) on February 8th. Keep in mind they are invaluable when it comes time to requeen. This nuc box will give you a few extra days as you muster up your courage to “do away” with the aging queen.

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Thanks for all that have come forward to assist our newbees. Assignments will be forthcoming. We understand there will be more answers than questions as there are so many approaches to beekeeping. Please remember that your way is only “one way” and not “the way” and that the newbees will need to find “their way” from reading and research.

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Bee School
Monday, March 7th – Honey Bee Pests, Diseases, and Treatments
Monday, March 21st – Swarms and Swarm Control Measures

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Tips For March

  • a critical month for over-wintered hives
  • continue dry feed until consistent flight weather (45-500 on successive days)
  • then switch to 2:1 sugar syrup to start and eventually to 1:1 syrup
  • add pollen or substitute patties for nutrition
  • clean dead from entrance

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Temperature Rule of Thumb
Below 40° open hive in emergency only to feed candy/sugar more quickly
Below 50° open hive for short period – do not pull brood combs check outer frames for honey/pollen - move closer to cluster
At 50° bees begin to take cleansing flights short inspections permissible but avoid chilling brood
At 60° complete hive inspection, unless very windy, then just quick brood check
At 70° thorough hive inspection

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Claire’s Corner
A few nights ago a few of us traveled to a Bristol County Beekeepers Association meeting to listen to Mike Palmer, a beekeeper from St. Albans, VT speak on Apiary Sustainability and how to avoid the almost annual bee package replacement treadmill. It was evident that he abhorred the fact that we continue to purchase Italian packages from the south. This trend likely will not end as we have many new beekeepers each season. However, we hope the numbers will be considerably smaller each season as our queen rearing program continues. ( 2010 = 312 packages) (2011 = 325 to date)

Mike’s presentation focused on the use of nucleus colonies to replace winter losses. Granted he made it sound easy, even in northern Vermont with hives totally covered in snow. With a new mated queen, a couple of frames of brood, bees, honey and a $25 BCBA nuc box, it certainly is worth a try.

Scenario #1 – Come mid-July you can transfer from a strong hive:
1 full frame of bees and brood
1 partial frame of brood and bees
1 full frame of honey
1 frame with honey and pollen
1 empty frame of drawn comb

Do not shake in extra bees or it will be too strong. All of the above go into your 5 frame nuc box and let it settle for 24 hours. Then add your caged Cape Cod queen or cell.

Scenario #2 – As the summer comes to a close and Palmer has a hive that still sits in a single deep, with but 3 to 4 frames of brood, he will divide it into 4 frames with the above configuration (we add partial frame of honey to fill the box). The goal here is to quickly feed 1 to 1.5 gallons of 2:1 syrup so the bees will store and cap it before winter sets in. At this point, he does not want the hive to raise brood, but just fill nearly all the cells with stores. You need some empty cells in order for temperature regulation. Obviously, he would not split this weak hive if disease was noted.

He wraps all his hives with tarpaper and places them over a conventional hive. This is not for warmth, but to keep them above the snow. There is also a hole drilled in the upper box for cleansing flights and ventilation.

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For the Woodworkers
The following website has a plan of how to make a hive scale from an inexpensive bathroom scale. It is a box with a provision to read the scale utilizing a “periscope” made with mirrors. Coupled with a pollen trap, an individual could take part in a NASA sponsored research program recording honey and pollen flows. For more on this NASA research check out

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Fondant Candy Recipes

Microwave Recipe (feeds 1 or 2 colonies)

  1. In a 1 quart or larger microwave dish, thoroughly mix 1 & ˝ cups granulated sugar and ˝ cup light corn syrup. No water.
  2. Microwave on high, stirring every few minutes until the mixture is clear and bubbles become thumbnail size (about 10 minutes). Stop immediately if the mixture starts to brown. A wooden spoon is very effective for stirring, as it can be left in the dish during cooking.
  3. Pour into a mold made from cardboard or a container lined with paper to cool. The candy will become brittle and can be slipped on top of frames where the bees will consume it.

Stovetop Recipe (makes nine 5” x 6” pieces)

  1. Mix 5# granulated sugar, 1 pint corn syrup, 1 & 1/3 cups of water in a large pot.
  2. Hold over medium heat to 240 d on a candy thermometer. VERY IMPORTANT TO HOLD THE 240° F.
  3. Stir only occasionally, it takes a while.
  4. At 240, place the pot in a sink of cold water.
  5. Change the water a few times.
  6. Beat with a mixer, cooling the mixture to 190.
  7. Pour onto greased (Pam) cookie sheets to Ľ inch thick.
  8. Cool and slice into patties.

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I would like to remind everyone that the B.C.B.A. stocks enough equipment to build 5 standard hives, including frames and foundation, right here in our basement at 186 Old County Rd. Our prices are the same as those in the 2011 Brushy Mountain Bee Farm catalog, but with no freight charges. Just contact me and I will email you a list of items stocked. -- Paul

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Spring Criteria and Evaluation
The following objectives have been offered by Rebecca M. Your fall and winter log and notes will be critical to your first spring inspection and

  • Location – protected, sunny, shady (more sun keeps SHB #s down)
  • Food Stores colony had going in to Fall
  • Size of colony going into fall
  • Size of colony in February
  • Established colony vs. nucleus colony
  • Need to requeen this spring? Or Aug?
  • Queen suitable for breeding? (longevity, pattern, low mite count)
back to top Last updated 02/28/2011