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Buzz Words - March 2012

PLEASE NOTE – The March meeting will be held at the Cape Cod Natural History Museum in Brewster. Our guest speaker is Tom Seeley, author of Honeybee Democracy. Meeting will be at 11 A.M. on Saturday, March 31st.

For Upper Cape residents, the Falmouth 300 Committee is having Dr. Seeley speak at 7:30 p.m. Friday evening, March 30th, at the Falmouth High School.

Both these meetings are free of charge. Dr. Seeley is a great speaker and his research is fascinating.

From the President
Jumping the gun, getting the drop on, counting my chickens and generally being led down the garden path by unseasonably warm winter. I've gone ahead and planted the spinach, peas, fava beans and lettuce.

Drifts of flowers dreams accompany every seed getting prompted at night by the wood stove while in the morning finding feeble light to reach toward.

Sadly, I looked up at my hive boxes. Empty, forlorn. From the garden they are perched expectantly on the hill as if they themselves were ready to take off in search of denizens. Knocked the sparrow’s nest to the ground while pruning back the honeysuckle; surely they will return despite my interference. The buffleheads, diving and swimming in circles clucking and wondering why the larger flock did not arrive to overstay, betray a hint of urgency.

No blanket for the garlic or rosemary to comfort through the nadir. The end of winter tempts with its warm fingers wrapped in wool.

Swirling thoughts like these announce the season’s change with accompanying blustery winds chilling an over-anxious soul.

Pollinator Plant Sale, May 12th at Meetinghouse Farm – Get Ready


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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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Due to the change requested by the membership, the dues year and payment now run January through December. This means that at the end of this newsletter you will find a form reminding you to pay your dues. Please use the form, whether you mail your dues in or bring them to the next meeting. If you want to be sure that payment has been credited, USE THE FORM!!!!! Dues are $15 per year.

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Package Bees Still Available
Send your request, using the form to Claire Desilets, P O Box 808, East Sandwich, 02537. Packages are 88.00 each. Please make checks Payable to B.C.B.A.

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Bee School Begins
Thursday, March 1st – Pests and Diseases
Thursday, March 15th – Swarming and Prevention

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Upcoming Meetings
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Massachusetts Beekeepers Spring Meeting, watch our website for details

HONEY BEE DEMOCRACY author, Tom Seeley, PhD, of Cornell University
Sponsored by the Falmouth 300 Committee, the Barnstable County Beekeepers Assoc., the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, and the Marine Biological Laboratory
Friday, March 30, 2012 • 7:30 p.m. at the Falmouth High School
Saturday, March 31, 2012 • 11 a.m. at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Brewster

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Top Bar Hive Enthusiasts
Perhaps we might hear from those of you that started Top Bar Hives in 2011 as we emerge from this mild winter. The April newsletter could relate the survival rates and how better to proceed in 2012. Check out the final report on the grant that the New Hampshire beekeepers received for experimenting with TBH’s. It is available on their website,, and click the TBH link.

Here is a tip from a researcher in Virginia who runs all TBH. He always starts with a beeswax coating, or a strip of foundation on his top bars. Using this method his frames remain straight and make management quicker.

Our TBH started as a small swarm on May 2nd, 2011. The swarm built magically in a small, homemade, misshapen TBH. The comb they drew was, and remains, beautiful. They spent the winter in a conventional single-deep Langstroth hive. The top bars are Langstroth, but with just a sliver of Slovenian beeswax foundation. They have survived on just seven frames and a sheet of sugar. The weight remains heavy. So, do we put them back in the TBH, or add a second deep with more undrawn top bars? Stay tuned………..

This might be of interest. I just stumbled on this in OnEarth magazine: short article on a Washington state beekeeper that has cross-bred his bees with a Nosema ceranae-resistant feral colony found in the woods, with promising results.


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From Leslie
The poet Victoria Sackville-West must have had weather like ours in mind when she wrote:

In February, if the days be clear,
The waking bee, still drowsy on the wing,
Will sense the opening of another year,
And blunder out to seek another spring.

All this lovely weather has the Crocus & Lenten Roses in bloom & my girls are out in force. So far in my garden there are more bees than flowers & the holding patterns of hovering bees waiting their turn at a purple crocus would give air traffic controllers at Logan nightmares! When choosing plants for the garden this year remember that like human vision, bees also are trichromatic. But while we see a combination of red, blue & green, they see blue-green, blue-violet & ultra violet (UV) but no reds. To bees, black, white’ red all appear black. Their favorite color is our purple, followed by our violet & our blue. While they don’t see red they do seem to see yellow & orange when mixed with UV. Besides seeing colors differently than we do, the bees also see patterns in UV that, unseen to our eyes, act as runway markings to guide a bee to the flower’s nectar & pollen. Because of their dependence on UV markings, without UV light the bees stop foraging flights & stay in their hive until driven out by extreme food shortages.


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Mountain Camp Feeding – from Kelley Bee News (Nov 2011)

  • Use 1 or 2 inch spacer placed directly on top brood box
  • Add 2 sheets of newspaper directly on frames (leave 1/3 of frames exposed)
  • Mist paper with water spray or sugar syrup
  • Dump 1-2# sugar on paper and mist sugar to clump, repeat sugar and spray once more
  • Misting sugar to clump will keep bees from carrying it out as a foreign material
  • Condensation from cluster heat will be absorbed by newspaper
  • If bees have not used all sugar by spring, use it to make first batch of 1:1 syrup

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Wintering Tip
Watch food stores with this unseasonal warm weather. Minimal stores are consumed at an ambient temperature of 400. With our 500 to 600 of late, (and if you have already wrapped) stored honey could be munched quite readily. Sugar Syrup (2:1) may be fed IF temps hold over 500 for a few days each week.

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This is an election year for our organization. All positions are open and can be “campaigned” for. Elections take place at our Annual Meeting in April. The nominating committee is made up of Marte Ayers and Paul Desilets. If anyone would like to sit on our board (board meetings occur quarterly), please contact either Marte or Paul at the next meeting.

We seem to be O.K. with the Board of Directors and all positions except for Vice-President. John Beach has decided to move up to the President’s slot, but we need someone to fill in when John cannot be at a meeting.

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Claire's Corner
Wow, February 24th and all the crocus are in bloom! The bees are going bonkers for the pollen and water in the birdbath and sucking it off of the door mats. We could not resist last week when the temperature reached 560 and just had to pull some frames. One grant hive has 3-4 frames of capped brood 4 to 5 inches in diameter and both deeps are crammed with bees. Hmmm. Will we see swarms in April?

There is a lot to consider with this situation (and we have heard from others with similar scenarios). This weather has been welcome, but how to adjust and evaluate these changes? Commonly, we would make splits with these strong hives by mid-May before they set to swarm. These hives will not wait, but it is too early for splits especially if you expect them to raise their own queens. When will we have sexually mature drones for mating? As a rule, these drones frequent the drone congregating areas in late May, signaling time to start raising queens. It appears a few extra inspections are in order.

Unless the weather changes dramatically in March, we plan on adding a third deep to these over-achieving hives. This will give the hive plenty of room to expand and can easily be split off when drones are available. And, will prevent the hive from swarming. A spare shallow or medium could also be used, but that will take it out of circulation for honey. Brood on honey frames is best culled or marked for brood rearing. Just some thoughts as you make inspections on these bonus days.

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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