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Buzz Words - May, 2003

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Pollinator Plant Sale
4. Please Return Bee Packages
5. Bee School
6. Integrated Pest Management
7. Glassware
8. Claire’s Corner
9. Classifieds

Next Meeting: 7:30 P.M., on Tuesday, May 13th, at the West Barnstable Community Building, on Route 149.

Program: This meeting will feature a beautiful slide presentation by Marsha Potash and Sue Phelan, offering a chronological depiction of those plants producing pollen and/or nectar for our bees to feed upon here on Cape Cod.

The June meeting will feature a physical therapist on the staff of the Rehab Hospital of the Cape and Islands, located in Sandwich.

From the President
Huge kudos to Claire, Paul, Ed for ordering, organizing, picking up, and distributing of 210 packages of bees to club members this year. Also, please thank Jay Barthelmeus, Andy Morris, and George Muhlebach for assisting in hive openings and distributions between our two locations April 13th that made this run so smoothly. And also to Connie Novitsky for dealing with the additional 39 packages that came up from York Bee. Great Job!

I hope everyone is seeing some good activity with the new girls on the block. Queen cages should be out and maintain spring portioned sugar syrup as necessary. It is still cool, so be careful not to get over zealous about going in to look for eggs, larvae and brood. Check it out and close it up. You don’t want “chill” the brood snooping around out of curiosity. These girls have been around a lot longer than you and me and their genetic training doesn’t have us in it.

Those with ‘wintered over’ hives should consider inverting the two brood boxes (if you have two) when the dandelions bloom. This is only necessary if the queen is above laying and the bottom box is empty. If there are signs she is laying eggs in the bottom box you may wish to leave it alone. Category; (Ask ten beekeepers a question, get 10 different answers).


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Pollinator Plant Sale
Saturday, May 31st at West Barnstable Community Building.

Please bring some (donate) plants for the club to sell at this event. Surplus perennials overflowing your gardens, small saplings, favorite fun blooming plants, annuals started from seed…whatever suits you best. We get a nice turnout from this event so everything usually goes over well. We can use help the Friday evening before hand to set up, and price items as well as hands on deck Saturday to assist in sales, carrying items to cars etc…

Mark what you bring so the public knows what they’re purchasing and if special instructions are necessary, please bring them along.

Please Return Bee Packages
We do get a $2 per package rebate when we turn in clean packages prior to the truck going to Wilbanks in the spring. Unless you have a sentimental attachment to those packages, please return them to the next meeting, (leave them off to the side of Claire’s van — do not bring them inside) or drop them off by my shed. Packages only please, no cans, no covers, no queen cages. Thank you. Paul

Bee School
The last session of bee school is a hive opening. That is scheduled to take place here at Rocky Bottum, 186 Old County Rd, East Sandwich, on Sunday, May 4th at 1 P.M. See previous newsletter for directions. Don’t forget to bring your veil.

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Integrated Pest Management
We are going to try something new this year. We have ordered from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm enough Medium SuperFrames to give one out to each member unit. This frame is to be used in place of one Deep Brood Frame and will serve as a “Drone Sink”. That is, the bees will fill in the space below the bottom bar with drone foundation. When this is filled with drone brood and is capped, the beekeeper merely scrapes this portion off and replaces the frame into the hive. By removing this drone brood, the numbers of Varroa in the hive are greatly reduced.

You must be at the May meeting to receive your free frame. Orders will also be taken at this time if members wish to purchase (for $2.00) additional frames for additional hives.

It is not too early to start thinking about your glass needs. Ed is checking with suppliers in order to obtain the best possible prices for our members. More on this in a later issue.

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Claire’s Corner
Perhaps the largest exodus of honeybees from Georgia to Cape Cod was experienced this spring. Over 280 packages and nucs will have arrived (just to our club members) as you read this. Let us hope Mother Nature will be kind to our “new girls” as they settle into their new nests.

Since 1996, B.C.B.A. members have brought up 850 packages from the Wilbanks Apiaries through the efforts of Peter Wilson of Wareham. This last trip was bitter sweet as we were fortunate to receive our full order thanks to Peter’s wishes, but Peter died two days later of a swift-moving cancer. Peter drove a hard bargain, was adamant in his way, a successful beekeeper and always fair to Barnstable County Beekeepers. The full congregation at his memorial service attested to his dedication to his family and his love of beekeeping.

To date, based on a few phone calls, the new packages are doing well. There were few queens lost in shipping, always encouraging considering the quantity hived. Burr comb appears to be the more persistent problem. Bee space is an interesting phenomenon of honeybees. Leave a space or opening beyond 3/8 of an inch and the workers will build that beautiful white comb in it. A few of us were tardy in removing the queen cage, resulting in many teardrop shaped combs. Cutting it out and leaving it near the entrance for them to clean is the best bet. And squeeze those frames as close together as possible. We will always waste the workers efforts when we violate that bee space. Flipping the inner cover to the summer side down will also result in less burr comb.

Requeening is always a challenge, but never have I undertaken Requeening in the observation hive. Ours was failing. She was a swarm queen of last June with a poor brood pattern and a strange behavior of dragging eggs over the comb from the tip of her abdomen.

With an extra Wilbanks queen available, I dispensed with the old queen and waited 24 hours. I removed the new queen from the wooden cage, released the attendants outside, marked the queen with a beautiful red dot and placed her in a small plastic queen cage stuffed with 2 mini marshmallows. Opening the hive, I pressed the cage into a corner of the foundation, and it stayed. The small cluster of workers found her within a few hours and for 6 days cared for her constantly, but rarely nibbled away at the confection atop the cage.

I decided to release her in to the hive on the sixth day. Wow! The poor girl was instantly balled by some of the workers and fell to the floor of the hive. I grabbed her – carefully – and stuffed her back in the cage with only a single marshmallow and only half in. Why this aggressiveness with such a small cluster? It really did not make sense. Two days later, I attempted it again, but replaced the marshmallow with a dab of fondant, leaving a bigger space for worker entrance. At this point, we also rotated the two frames, placing the honey frame above and the empty brood frame, bearing the queen cage, below.

By the following morning workers were into the cage, having consumed all the candy. That evening, the workers were very noisy, with a very erratic behavior all over the frames. Crestfallen, I searched for the queen, dead or alive. Could not find her anywhere. I hated to look the next evening, now eleven days into the project. Well, I’ll be darned! There appeared a 4-inch cluster busily working and smack in the center the queen was backing into a cell to lay an egg. Her beautiful red dot was now a halo. But there she was. Stay tuned for an update in June.

Paul and I attended the Rhode Island Beekeepers Annual Meeting last week. Their speaker was Dr. Jeff Pettis, currently at the USDA Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, MD. His short presentation included an overview of the research being done at the lab. A number of staffers diagnose samples sent in by both commercial and hobbyist beekeepers. There are genetic and genomic projects along with continued research with miticides. Within 6 months we should have available two new products affecting American Foulbrood as Terramycin loses if efficacy.

The use of formic acid still remains beyond our reach due to continuing packaging problems. When available, it will give us an alternative miticide effective against both trachea and varroa. We are getting closer, Jeff promised. Dr. Pettis’ most recent research was in the area of wax contamination and how the levels of Coumaphos might affect queen rearing. Interestingly, 100 parts per million are currently allowed in our wax foundation. Levels of 1000 ppm were introduced into queen-rearing cups. Less than one-half of the queens grafted into these cups were reared. Jeff noted that beyond this point of feeding and rearing of these queen cells, no difference was noted and all queens produced, regardless of the level of Coumaphos, the queens performed well. The closing comments included a theory that poor queens could be directly related to poor quality, or fewer, drones for fertilization. If our hives are compromised with disease or mites, the drone larva/pupae are the first to be sacrificed. Fewer drones result in poor/less insemination resulting in poor queen performance.

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Ed Osmun has the following items for sale. You can catch him at the meeting or call him @ 508-833-9696
  • 12 oz Flat Panel Bears- $12. per 24.
  • Menthol- 50 Gm Packets for Spring Treatment, $3.75. Mesh bags also available.
  • Type S Pollen Traps- Built by Amish craftsmen $59.
  • Maxant Extractor- 10 frame parallel radial. $800. (New approx $1500).
The club purchased 5 gallon bottling pails with a good 1½-inch gate with the last order. These can be had for $20 apiece. See Ed.
back to top Last updated 05/04/03