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Buzz Words - May, 2005

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. President's Message
3. Bee School
4. Proposed By-Law Change
5. Nucs
6. Annual Pollinator Plant Sale
7. Claire's Corner
8. Feeders
9. Empty Bee Packages
10. EAS Raffle Results
11. The Osterville Buzz
12. Web Sites
13. Seasonal Tips
14. Honey Trivia

Next Meeting: Tuesday, May 10th, 7:30 P.M. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149. - This meeting will be a slide presentation of chronlogical blooms of plants having nectar and pollen that are attractants to our honeybees, presented by Marsha Potash, of Hyannis Country
Gardens, and our own Sue Phelan

President's Message
May greetings to all. Who can believe that Michigan got a foot of snow Sunday? Better them than us. A few of us went down to the fairgrounds and checked out the Bee Booth this past weekend. The exterior weathered over well considering how bad the winter was. We have acquired a new (to us) glass display case to use as a more secure means for displaying articles for sale. I think this will really help us with logistics, instead of just having everything crowded on top of the existing counter. We’ll probably need to add some lighting over the new case. The gardens are in need of their annual tender loving care. The roof rafters have peeled terribly over the winter and really look ugly – certainly necessitating scraping them down and repainting them. We’ll be having our annual “Spruce-Up Day” before the fair opens, but if anyone has some extra time on their hands (extra time – what’s that??) feel free to head over to the booth and clean up the gardens, plant some stuff, scrape some paint, whatever.

Feed those bees. Those with established hives watch for the dandelions and switch hive bodies if your ladies have all moved upstairs.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to welcome Sandy Wilkins to the Board of Directors and to thank her for taking over the Treasurer’s duties. Yay Sandy!!

Peace, Pete.

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Bee School
“NewBees” are invited to a hands-on hive opening on Sunday, May 15 th , 2005 in East Sandwich. At 1:00 P.M. we will fire up the smoker and/or use Honey Bee Healthy and venture into a few hives. This is a great opportunity to understand what you are looking at in your hives. The location is a cranberry bog on Old County Rd., just opposite the East Sandwich Post Office (on Route 6A). Take Mid-Cape Hwy to Exit 4, head north on Chase Rd to a left on Old County Rd and follow for 2 miles. Best to park on roadside rather than on the muddy bog. Bring veils and protective gear. All members are welcome.

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Proposed By-Law Change
At a recent meeting of the Board of Directors, it was proposed to change Article IV, Section 2, (c ), which states the number of directors, by striking 7 and replacing it with 18; so that it reads as follows: Up to 18 other members in good standing, but not fewer than 4. This change must be published twice in the monthly news and will be voted on by the general membership at the monthly meeting on June 14th.

As of this writing, the nucs will be available for pickup at 186 Old County Rd, E Sandwich, on Tuesday, May 3rd . Due to many factors which could change that availability, including their being shipped up from Louisiana, please wait for a phone call before making the trip to East Sandwich. Directions were in the April issue of Buzz Words.

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Annual Pollinator Plant Sale
Saturday, May 21st
10 A.M. to 1 P.M.
WE need plants!!! Perennials! Biennials! Vegetables! Flowers! Trees!
All this and more to buy and or to sell at the
Barnstable County Beekeeper's Association Annual Plant Sale
Beekeeper's who would like to drop off plants can do so at any time Saturday AM from 7:00 - 10:00. If this is an inconvenient time call Jan Rapp @ 508-428-8442 to make other arrangements.
West Barnstable
Community Building
Beekeepers are invited to bring any honey or bee products to sell as well (same percentages as the Fair).
Beekeepers are needed to help with the sale!!!
I think we can count on Andy and Claire and Jan. Can we count on YOU? Beekeeper's who arrive early are invited to buy before the general public. Posters will be available at the next Bee Meeting for members to post about their neighborhoods.

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Claire's Corner
Well, 230 packages of bees have been "put to bed" in the past few weeks. Although delays ruffled our antennae a bit, it all went very smoothly. Thanks to all who helped out with the pickups, directing traffic, hiving for members, handing out packages and answering questions. Let's see - 230 packages x 3 # x 4,000 bees, comes to 2,760,000 more honey bees on or near Cape Cod. Add 130 nucleus colonies soon to arrive and the vegetable gardens and fruit tree yields should be up a notch or two. And the most encouraging bit of information is that we only had 2 dead queens in all those packages!

Now comes the test for all beekeepers - how to evaluate the queen. Can we see eggs? Is it a good laying pattern? Are the numbers building? Is she ready for the second deep? One point we apparently did not make clear at bee school was the fact that the queens were mated prior to their being placed in those little cages. Within a week or two, they should be laying. Not every queen will begin as soon as she is released from the cage and new cells are built. You may have a few anxious days. Contact a mentor if you are concerned 10 to 14 days after installation.

When your brood chamber is 80% full of drawn frames, add the second and keep feeding. Using 2 shallows will work to keep your feeder pail covered. A few years back, our super-scientifically-minded George Muhlebach produced a hive population graph. Reasonable assumptions were made as to beginning numbers and ages of bees. If we follow this graph (copies will be available at May meeting), the hives we established on April 16 th will hit a low point around May 3 rd . The older packaged bees will be dying off, but the newly laid eggs have not yet come to full term. Patience people! It will be 21 days before these first eggs hatch out. So, around the 15 th of May, the population will begin to climb and will continue by nearly 1000 per day as the weather settles and pollen and nectar become readily available.

Interestingly, the queen in the demo hive had to be released on April 22nd . Those workers wasted no time drawing out comb and began storing syrup and packing in the pollen. Actually, when we last inspected on April 26 th there was little room for her to lay due to the nectar, syrup and pollen packed away. They had beautiful white comb on four frames in just 10 days in unsettled weather. Don't forget to make those notations, and observations, in your notebook at each visit. They will become helpful as the hive progresses.

I was asked recently, by a couple of club members, about feeders. I am constantly in search for an effective and inexpensive method of feeding my bees. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

Many new beekeepers use the "pail" or "bucket" feeders. This is the type they are exposed to during our bee school, and is a relatively inexpensive and simple technique to feed the bees, both in the spring and the fall. However leaks can occur, usually around the rim. Perhaps the lid isn't tightly sealed, or something else is causing the sugar syrup to break the vacuum necessary for this type of feeder to work correctly. The obvious danger is too much moisture in the hive, causing distress to the bees and perhaps soaking the queen, causing a failure of the hive. If nothing else, the beekeeper will lose the sugar syrup, a waste of money and time. This feeder requires another deep hive box, in order to close up the hive from the elements.

Many experienced beekeepers use division board feeders. This type of feeder is inserted into the deep hive box, usually in the position of the number one or number ten frame, next to the wall of the box itself. It holds a gallon or more of sugar syrup. It can be left in the hive year 'round and is therefore a piece of equipment that doesn't need storage or maintenance. On occasion, the bees will build burr comb or brace comb in this type of feeder, which must be removed. Mass drownings are also common, so the beekeeper must supply something, ladder-like, for the bees to climb on. This type of feeder takes up at least the space of one frame within the hive, reducing the space the bees could use for storage of honey and pollen, or the laying of eggs. Another drawback for this type of feeder is the hive must be opened to fill it with syrup. This requires the beekeeper to break the propolis seal the bees have created between the boxes to facilitate better climate control within the hive during the winter. If the beekeeper wraps the hive during the winter, this wrapping must be removed in order to feed the hive.

Hive top feeders are also popular. They sit either directly on top of the hive body containing the frames or above the inner cover. The beekeeper can simply remove the telescoping or outer cover and have access to this feeder, never disturbing the bees or breaking the propolis seal between the hive boxes. It holds a couple of gallons of sugar syrup and therefore needs fewer trips to the hive for feeding, saving the beekeeper considerable time.

Complete feeders are available, or inserts can be purchased and used with shallow supers. Earlier types of this feeder used a wooden "raft" in each compartment for the bees to walk on, but were still responsible for huge numbers of bees drowning; the newer types are screened to prevent this from happening. These feeders are very effective but rather expensive and add another piece of equipment for the beekeeper to store and maintain.

I use a variation on the hive top feeder. I use two inexpensive "materials" to make my own. The main part of my feeders is a 'tote' or caddy. It is plastic, and therefore durable, comes in many sizes, and ranges greatly in price. The totes I have been using were purchased at Benny's, hold about a half a gallon of sugar syrup, cost $1.29 plus tax, and are an attractive blue. They can be bought at many retail stores, however. I add to these, using a hot glue gun to attach them, "ladders" made of a rubberized place mat from Stop and Shop or Ocean State Job Lot.

I also use this place mat material to make rafts to float on top of the syrup to reduce drowning. This feeder can be used like a combination of the hive top feeder and the pail feeder. It can be placed either directly on top of the frames or above the inner cover, like the hive top feeder, but requires another deep hive box, in order to close up the hive from the elements, like the pail feeder. In just a short time I have an inexpensive, effective method of feeding my bees. I'm sure some of you have creations of your own to share with the club. Remember, there is no "one" way. Perhaps you can revolutionize the keeping of bees with your idea.

Let's hear from you. - Andy

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Empty Bee Packages
Contrary to previous years, we WILL NOT be taking back empty bee packages. Wilbanks now delivers the bees in their own trucks and do not take the packages back. Seems a waste of time and effort to build new packages each year, but…..

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EAS Raffle Results
As president of the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association, I would like to thank all of you who purchased tickets to the EAS Raffle. Thanks to beekeepers across Massachusetts, we (this little state) sold the most tickets. To the state selling the most tickets went another prize. We put all the names in a pot, one for each ticket purchased, and the winner of the Massachusetts $500 Conference for Two at Kent State University is Shelly Bancer, of Marstons Mills. Once again, Mass beekeepers are the mainstay of EAS support! - Paul

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The Osterville Buzz
freed themselves and are busy doing their business. On Friday, April 22nd, a new train engine was placed on the deck of Armstrong-Kelley Park. A stroll into the woods of A-K Park will bring you to The Garden of Verses which will allow you to read some of the poems which have been given to the gardens from, THREE LITTLE PIGGIES to TREES to STOPPING BY THE WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING. Spring is bustin' out all over so, c'mon over and visit Cape Cod's oldest (1930) and largest (8.5 acres) privately owned park (Cape Cod Horticultural Society) open free to the public and their pets. Carl Mongé, Pres. and Grumpy Old Man (1 0f 6 who maintain A-K Park).

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Web Sites
Following are some interesting web sites, most dealing with honeybees:,,,,,,, FYI, check a "science-focused search engine that specializes in searches for scientific, technical, scholarly, and medical information on the Internet."

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Seasonal Tips
Feed - feed - feed and watch the numbers grow! Give those girls as much 1:1 sugar syrup as they will take. They will reward you later in the season with a beautiful crop of honey. Be watchful and check your buddy and your body for deer and wood ticks. They are plentiful! Be mindful that they quest on a blade of grass, just as tracheal mites do on a bee's hair, looking for that unsuspecting host.

Overwintered hives need to be examined for old comb, poor brood patterns, and lack of stores. Scrape that bottom board well into the corners and look for small hive beetle. Even though you're using an IPM Board, those back corners and edges can harbor something besides debris. We have already seen swarm cells in an overwintered hive. If your hive is crowded with honey and brood, you are heading for a "neighborhood nuisance". Split out a few frames of brood with bees (please leave the queen) and share it with a neighbor. $10 to $15 per frame of healthy brood and nurse bees is fair and desperately needed by other club members.

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Honey Trivia
1. Bees have been producing honey for at least 150 million years.

2. Honey has been delighting humans for more then 40 centuries. In ancient Egypt, taxes were paid with it, while in early Greece and Rome honey symbolized fertility, love and beauty.

3. Early man considered bees mysterious and magical creatures because their amazing organized labor produced honey 'the nectar of the gods.'

4. The earliest illustration we have of honey being gathered is about 15,000 years old and appears in a painting on the walls of a rock shelter in eastern Spain.

5. In the Bible, this sublime nectar is dubbed 'the heavenly food.'

6. In biblical days, John the Baptist lived on a diet of wild locust and honey.

7. To the ancients, honey was a source of health, a sign of purity and a symbol of strength and virility.

back to top Last updated 5/10/05