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Buzz Words - March 2015

March Meeting
Rachel Bonoan will be our speaker at the association’s next meeting, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at the West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable. Bonoan, a second-year doctoral student in biology at Tufts University whose studies currently focus on the micronutrient needs of honey bees. (Specifically, she’s trying to figure out why bees prefer dirty water to clean – pretty intriguing, right?) Previously, she researched heat management and its effects on brood in the hive. Donations of sweets and treats gratefully accepted.

From the Board
My first time was incredible! I heard that it would be, but no one could have described the excitement and deep, unbelievable satisfaction. There was talk, “don’t expect much, be patient.” But I was impatient, after all I was over 21. It was a warm, beautiful, sunny summer day in July and I had made the decision. It was now or never. I was properly attired and when I pulled out that first frame in my honey super and saw that the honey was capped I was speechless. From the look of things I was not going to bring in the mother lode but that didn’t matter. I had not expected the bees would be so angry when I went to take the frames of honey, even though I had been told during class this was not going to be easy. The girls don’t want anyone messing with their honey, however I thought we had a good working relationship these many months. I was always gentle when checking on them and didn’t get them up too early in the morning. I had an entrance feeder in front of each hive which I judiciously filled with rainwater I had collected. I spent time keeping the grass mowed in front of their hives making it easier for takeoffs and landings. I even put a beautiful pot of geraniums on top of each hive to make a more welcome home. But clearly this working relationship did not extend to removing frames of honey.

After some difficulty I was able to place all the capped frames in my garage for the night. The next morning I set up my extractor on the counter and brought in the frames. My husband will tell you when I get in the kitchen not a counter is left untouched. I put a lot of effort into my work and this activity was not going to be any different. Within minutes of cutting off the cappings of the sweet, fragrant, golden honey it started to drip and I began hearing buzzing outside my windows. And before long the bees were banging into the screens both in front and behind my house trying to reclaim their treasure. From all the black dots in the air I don’t think a bee was left in the hives. We quickly closed the windows, but they were still out flying for the rest of the day. My extractor was old and had a hand crank, but no lid. While I was spinning the frames, the extractor walked across my counter until I found someone to hold it while I cranked. My shoes stuck to the floor due to the honey mist that crept out of my aluminum foil cover, and everything was sticky - my hair, clothes, my kitchen. And I still had the cleanup. In the end I had 11 pounds of the most beautiful, sweet-smelling, perfect honey bottled in my jars. I almost took more pictures than I did of my firstborn. It was thrilling and tasted better than anything ever could.

So be patient, your time will come. And if you’re thinking of trying to figure out an easier, but not nearly as satisfactory, way to extract honey for “your first time,” check out this website

—Lynn Heslinga

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin -

BCBA discussion group -

Tamar Haspel -

Facebook page -

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Bee School Classes for March
Thursday. March 5: pests and diseases
Thursday, March 19: swarming and swarm prevention
All classes begin at 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable

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Dues are Due
More than 200 of you have paid your dues. Thank you for supporting the association. And we have nearly another 200 who have not rejoined. Please pay attention to the comments when you receive Buzz Words and that will tell you which side of the fence you are on!

—Claire Desilets

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New Book on Bees
Most of you have witnessed the activity of an observation hive, especially if you have worked the fair. It is fun to watch the workers enter with a load of pollen and complete the waggle tail dance, or watch the queen emerge from a cell after depositing an egg. And fascinating to observe a new adult emerge - matted hairs, stumbling like a newborn calf and taking her first meal.

The perfect scenario would be that observation hives mirror what is going on in the hive in the backyard. Well, these “house” bees enjoy an easier life and a much warmer environment. The colony cannot cluster as in an 8- to 10-frame hive, but they do move away from their opening and bunch together when very cold weather arrives. As far as new brood beginning, we have seen it as early as late January as it just might be occurring in your hive. A good supply of honey, pollen and worker bees would be the deciding factor.

Management is a challenge, especially if you are dealing with just two frames. A watchful eye is required to provide stores if needed or remove brood and bees when congested, and, yes, it can swarm. Manipulations must be done cautiously when removing from the house or building especially if it is at a nature center or museum. Late afternoon is best. And observation hives can easily overwinter if there are sufficient bees and honey to maintain a good colony.

Well, here is what prompted this article. Many of you witnessed the activity of the hive at the July 2014 fair with the green-marked queen. It was jammed with bees, typical Italian queen, nice brood pattern and low on stores. Too many mouths to feed and too little nectar available. Every four to five days it consumed a jar of 1:1 sugar syrup. Thinking back, this is what our hives were experiencing. We were in a dearth and supplemental feeding was critical.

Late September it became apparent that the hive needed help, as the bees were not storing any nectar or syrup in the cells. A frame of honey was exchanged for a frame of brood and bees. Mid-October, the frame of honey had been completely consumed and another frame of honey was exchanged for brood and bees before cold weather set in. And now it is midwinter and, guess what? Not a speck of honey remains! What to do, as they are taking little syrup from their feeder?

Out of desperation, it seemed logical to “spoon feed” this colony until warmer weather arrives. Mid-January the decision was made to feed the hive with a 3 cc syringe through one of the ventilation holes. It was so neat to see their little tongues poking out and sucking up small drips as it ran down the glass. Come early February, it was decided to change their diet to a slightly diluted honey laced with a dash of Honey-B-Healthy and a few pinches of MegaBee pollen substitute. This made a viscous sludge but remained suitable to work in a syringe. Thus, the daily feeding continues to date.

At one point, pearly white larvae were seen and a few capped brood cells were visible. They have since disappeared and the excitement abated. Hmmmm? Wonder why? Was the queen revving up her egg-laying organs? Or did the initial source of food stimulate the laying of eggs? If the workers were starving, they could have consumed the larvae for protein.

And here is another observation. Before feeding began, the bees clustered on the top deep frame. Now, they congregate down the side of the hive where they receive their daily feeding. “Conditioned reflex,” or is it merely the odor of the honey and HBH?

Last, one concern remains beyond starvation. As the weather stays bitterly cold, the bees are not able to remove the dead bees. If there is a single small hive beetle lurking in the hive and a few bodies are piled at the bottom, it might not be long before SHB larvae will be observed. Stay tuned.

—Claire Desilets

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Mellified Man
The following veers decidedly into the realm of the macabre … not for the faint of heart. Li Shizen, a Chinese pharmacologist during the Ming Dynasty, told in his book “Bancao Gangmu” of a human mummy confection believed to have medicinal properties. A translation of the book contains this: “… in Arabia there are men 70 to 80 years old who are willing to give their bodies to save others. The subject does not eat food, he only bathes and partakes of honey. After a month he only excretes honey (the urine and feces are entirely honey) and death follows. His fellow men place him in a stone coffin full of honey in which he macerates. The date is put upon the coffin giving the year and month. After a hundred years the seals are removed. A confection is formed which is used for the treatment of broken and wounded limbs. A small amount taken internally will immediately cure the complaint. It is scarce in Arabia where it is called mellified man.” Sorry. Just had to share. More (less ghastly) information on honey’s applications in death rites can be sampled here.

—Julie Lipkin

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Timely Tips
Food stores are critical at this time. Continue dry food – no sugar syrup until daily temperature averages over 40 degrees. Starting with 2:1 sugar syrup would be beneficial if we experience a cold spell.

This is a good time to clean out deadouts – only give new packages ONE deep with a couple of honey frames on the outside edges. Block and seal dead hives with honey stores to prevent robbing from neighborhood bees.

Pollen substitute feeding is helpful BUT must be continued until dandelion, swamp maple, crocus, skunk cabbage or the like is available.

—Board of Directors

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Our Club
I have enjoyed being active in our club for 15 years. As a past president and currently as a member of the board of directors, I would like to appeal to the 350-plus members of our club for more involvement to keep our club fresh and moving ahead instead of in a circle with the same people recycling through the positions.

We asked for a nominating committee to present a board for our annual meeting in April. No one has come forward to help. Granted at our last meeting there was lower-than-normal attendance because pf the weather. Our bylaws allow for 18 members on the board of directors. We have had two resignations and now have up to four positions available. We need a vice president and, technically, a president. John has nicely continued beyond the two years allowed under our bylaws.

There have to be members of our club who would like to be involved in its inner workings. With such a large membership we need more involved to share the continuation of a lively club with fresh ideas. There is not a single position available that is time-consuming or involved. The club does run smoothly and we have no personality problems with the number of people working together for the good of the club. We meet as a board for two hours three times a year (March, August and November) to discuss topics and speakers for our meetings, finances, purchases needed, repairing and running the building at the county fairground, to name a few. This is also an exciting time for club because we are going forward to securing the 501(c)(3) status, which perhaps will allow for grants. The board agreed to go forward with this, and the vote was passed at the last club meeting.

Please come forward to volunteer. Talk to any of the board members if you feel you need more in-depth information before raising your hand but - raise that hand and become involved in the club.

—Marte Ayers

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Local Farmers Market
The Barnstable Village Farmers Market Committee is accepting applications from vendors interested in participating in the 2015 Barnstable Village Farmers Market, planned for Saturday mornings from July 11 to Sept. 12, 9 a.m. to noon on the beautiful shaded grounds of the Superior Courthouse on Route 6A. The vendor application is accessible here

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Mentor Program for Newbees in Bee School
Another involvement opportunity for the club membership is volunteering to be a mentor to our new beekeepers currently taking our course. The mentor invites the mentee when he/she works the hive, explains what he/she is seeing, what the goal is for opening the hive and answers any questions the new mentee may have. The mentor is not expected to travel to the mentee’s hive but may if he/she so wishes. We do try to assign mentees in your area of the Cape so traveling is limited. We plan to have this completed by the end of March. Please help us by volunteering instead of waiting for us to contact each of you. Please contact Marte Ayers at 508-274-8754 or Claire Desilets at, 508-888-2304. Thank you.

—Marte Ayers.

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'Air Traffic Control, Incoming Pollinator, Over'
The New York Times recently ran a thought-provoking article on the potential for siting beehives at airports. Focusing on one such setup in Mirabel, Quebec, the article noted the symbiotic advantages of the arrangement: “Mirabel is just the latest in what is becoming a common undertaking - keeping beehives on airport green space. For airports, beehives can be an easy way to flaunt green credentials while putting space to work in fields that legally cannot be built on. And bees are endearing in a way carbon credits, cardboard recycling and composting are not.” Well, I was moved enough by this story to propose it to the managers of Barnstable Municipal Airport. The proposal engendered this terse reply from Katie Servis, the airport’s assistant manager: “Thank you Julie but at this time, we are not interested. Good luck.” Harumph. Let’s keep pushing this. Think of all those unused acres!

—Julie Lipkin

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New Option for Beekeepers
We are starting a new service in 2015 that offers two new options for New England beekeepers. Our beekeeping team can deliver packages throughout the Northeast to any property for $200 per delivered package. We can also install the packages for any beekeepers, for $250 per delivered and installed package. This should help any beekeepers with busy schedules or those needing an extra set of hands. Pickup from Boston is also available for $150 per package. We do realize that these are probably the most expensive packaged bees in the area, but this is the only way that I can raise funding for my team’s bee research. We have various ongoing studies, both in Massachusetts and in cities across America. Profits from all of our beekeeping services go toward our research to improve bee health. We continue to submit grant applications each year, and for the 10th year in a row every single one is rejected. Providing beekeeping services is the only form of financial support that our laboratory receives. Tentative package delivery and installation dates are scheduled for April 10-12 and May 1-3. Our beekeepers are picking up packages and driving them up from Rossman Apiaries in Georgia.

Noah Wilson-Rich
Founder, chief scientific officer, The Best Bees Company, Boston

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Ticks on Cape Cod
We were fortunate to have Larry Dapsis, our Extension Entomologist speak at our monthly meeting. As we are all exposed to these various critters whether in work or play, his presentation was most informative and contained new information. The deer tick or black-legged tick has 125 hosts and is the most dreaded due to its spread of Lyme disease. But there are now three other diseases possible from it and other ticks. And we were informed that all four diseases will be tested for when a patient presents itself with symptoms at a Cape Cod Healthcare facility. If you find a tick lodged in your skin, remove and save it. Log onto and follow the instructions where you will mail it to UMass for disease identification.


  • Tick checks and Permethrin-treated clothing
  • Perimeter yard spraying
  • Pet protection

—Board of Directors

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Did you know?
IA toxin in bee venom called melittin may prevent HIV. Melittin can kill HIV by poking holes into the virus’ protective envelope.

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Recipe of the Month
St. Patrick’s Day pork loin*

1 1/3 cup Guinness stout
½ cup clear honey
0.55 pounds light muscovado sugar
4½ pounds boneless pork loin, skinless (ask your butcher for the thick end)
white wine or champagne or water
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

Put the Guinness, honey and sugar into a pan, and reduce by almost half to form a sweet, syrupy glaze, then allow to cool. Heat the oven to 400º. Season the pork with pepper and salt, place on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 325º. Remove the pork from the oven and brush all over with most of the glaze (reserving a few tablespoons) and cook for a further 40-50 minutes, brushing and basting the pork as it cooks until it’s beautifully caramelized and glazed. Remove the pork from the roasting tray and leave to rest.

Pour the remaining glaze into the roasting tray, then add the wine, champagne or water. Place the pan on the heat and bring everything to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes until you have a thick gravy.

Carve the pork into thin. Glaze with the Guinness syrup, drizzle a little on the plates and finish with a sprig of parsley. * Recipe reprinted from

back to top Last updated 3/6/15