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Buzz Words - May, 2006

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Hive Openings
4. Beekeepers’ Field Day

Pollinator Plant Sale

6. Claire's Corner
7. Bee and Blossom
8. Spring Tips
9. Andy's Ramblings
10. Apis mellifera
11. Classifieds

Tuesday, May 9th, 7:30 P.M. at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History on Route 6A in Brewster. Fellow B.C.B.A. member from the lower Cape, John Portnoy will recount his success in raising his own queens, augmented with slides of his progress. Even if you have no interest in raising a few queens, the life cycle is so fascinating! It will be worth an evening out.


From the President
I wish to thank everyone for my "election" to President and hope to follow in the good footsteps of all my predecessors in keeping the interest, attendance and information moving along in the meetings. Thanks to the Board of Directors, we have a good lineup of speakers for the coming year. I welcome any interests that the membership has in subjects and speakers for our meetings. It is "your" meeting, so please give your feedback. I look forward to helping our "newbees" become successful and having interesting meetings for our "oldbees." I am also looking forward to that warm weather we experienced a few weeks or days ago. Even though we need the rain, sunshine is what our bees like, along with me. See you at the next meeting. -- Marte

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Hive Openings
1 PM , right after the Plant Sale, at 186 Old County Rd. E Sandwich

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Beekeepers’ Field Day
On Saturday, June 17th, Massachusetts Beekeepers’ Association will hold a Field Day at the UMASS Agronomy Farm in Deerfield. There will demonstrations for both new and experienced beekeepers. Apiary Inspector Ken Warchol will do hive inspections to demonstrate what various diseases actually look like. One demonstration will be on how to make splits from your hives. Another may be the proper way to use Mite-Away II and Apiguard. I am sure there will be something about selecting queens for small apiaries. Possibly something on swarm prevention and control.

A local restaurant (Holy Smokes BBQ) will be making up box lunches for those interested. Car pooling is recommended. If enough folks care to go, we can rent a van and share the cost.

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Pollinator Plant Sale
Barnstable Beekeeper's Association Annual Plant Sale, Saturday May 20th, 10:00 - 1:00; Annuals, Perennials, Herbs, and Vegetables. OPEN EARLY for drop off. Call Jan Rapp @508-428-8442 if you are unable to drop off your donations and she will arrange for pick-up. New This Year: Heirloom Tomatoes (sale will benefit Mass Agriculture in the Classroom), Bags of manure (sheep, goat and chicken). Help needed the day of the sale..

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Claire's Corner
Phew! We hope that by now all 241 packages are in their new homes and building nicely. As the weather fluctuates so greatly here on the Cape, feeding is really essential to your hive’s productivity. It is better to check and be ready rather than have them starve and the queen stop laying.

Now, more than ever, our note taking ability on hive activity is of utmost importance! Our newbees are encouraged to add to their 3-ring binder text, logging in observations and manipulations. Along with this, we find a weather diary so helpful. Do you remember last spring? Cold and wet, yes; but, our first warm day in May was the 28th, ending 24 days of rain for the month! Is it any wonder that the Black Locust never blossomed and nectar was scarce? Southern queens and nucs arrived mid-month to experience more rain and cold temperatures.

Rereading entries made in 2005, taking note of surviving queens, amount of syrup fed, and ’06 spring populations, one realizes that our old reliable Italians compare well with the “labeled” Minnesota Hygienics. And what a difference in cluster size! Splits will abound, if the weather holds. Also interesting to note or compare are the cluster size of the over-wintered Russians The size compares with the New World Carniolans – small. According to the literature, they should expand rapidly as we move into spring.

You will be able to observe the activities of the hive at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History during our May meeting. This is a good example of how quickly the Italians build and consume their stores. Its sister observation hive here on Old County Road is also going “gangbusters”. All stores have been used up, brood abounds on both frames totally surrounded by pollen. The sugar syrup needs to be refilled weekly to keep the increasing number of hungry mouths fed. Other than Honey Bee Healthy in its syrup, it has never been medicated.

So, what was our point on keeping notes on your hive? Most importantly, we need to find the “perfect” queen or queens for Cape Cod. Replacing hives each spring with new packages has become a challenge. Why do our hives survive winter only to crash in March while loaded with stores? Knowing there is no single answer, perhaps it is better to focus on the survivors and what we did right. Rereading your notes, comparing queen and worker productivity should eventually realize some answers.

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Bee and Blossom
Member Lou Ann Colombo of Brewster has opened a florist shop at 675 Main Street in Hyannis. She also caters to her love of bees and is selling bee-related “things”, honey, some beekeeping equipment, and offers teas and coffees. Lou Ann invites members to stop by and visit her shop in the West End.

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Spring Tips
Scrape the bottom board and rotate the deeps Check brood count – if crowded, split out a few frames with nurse bees to prevent swarming Freeze excess frames of honey for fall feeding. Keep only 2-3 frames per deep. Replace old foundation with new, undrawn foundation if comb is over 4-5 years old and dark Mount old nuc box in apiary with old comb to catch swarms and be a good neighbor Super over-wintered hives with 2 supers by mid-May to catch that early nectar flow Email the editor ( if you would like to be on the swarm recovery list .

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Andy's Ramblngs
It looks like we are going to have a real spring this year. Of course, it isn’t over yet and until it has actually passed we cannot evaluate its quality. And then, once it has passed, we will never be able to appreciate it. That is, unless we document it.

This is the first year in the many I have kept bees that I am really trying to keep notes. It is all Ed Osmun’s fault, this extra work.  Until last year I had upwards of twelve hives, loosely scattered around the Barnstable area. I will admit it was a challenge, but I was able to fake and bluff my way through managing them using my steel-trap memory. But Ed changed all that.

I have known Ed for better than 25 years, I’d guess. I first met him as he worked in the Sandwich True Value hardware store. I have always had eclectic interests, and he was willing to talk out solutions to my problems. It was the way hardware stores should be. I don’t know when he got into bees, but he was there at the club when I got started. He actually allowed me to use his equipment to extract my few frames of honey when I first got started. He lived in Marstons Mills then.

Anyway, as I said, it is his fault. He asked me, last spring, if I would be interested in managing some hives for him. He and his saintly wife, Betty, were undertaking the creation of a new adventure and he needed some help with some of his hives. As many of you know, like a few others, Ed is one of the vertebrae of the backbone of the Barnstable County Beekeepers Association. Without his efforts, it is possible the club would fail, and if not fail, it would surely be much less than it is. So I felt I should help him, out of friendship and appreciation for all he does. We negotiated a deal and I agreed to take care of seventeen of his hives, ten in Harwich and seven in Sandwich. Now I was responsible for nearly thirty hives. I thought my head was going to explode trying to keep everything straight and organized.

The “straw” was the poor honey crop those seventeen hives produced. Then, many failed during the autumn and winter seasons suffering, as a consequence, from wax moth. I was embarrassed.

This year I’m taking care of those hives for Ed again. And, because of nearly a one hundred per cent survival of my existing hives, my count is up to twenty. In order to keep all these hives in a row, as it were, and my sanity, such as it is for any person who becomes a beekeeper, I will be documenting the progress of each of Ed’s and my hives. In that journal, I will be making notes about the weather and temperature. That way I can evaluate how the bees are doing, I can perhaps preempt some problems before they start, and I will be able to reflect of the great spring we might yet/will have had.

I just hope I don’t get too organized.

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The National Cancer Institute acknowledges Apis mellifera
The emblem of the Tenth Annual Spring Research Festival is the honeybee, Apis mellifera. Bees have much to offer in addition their calming hum on a summer’s day and a taste of honey….

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Claire has Honey Bee Healthy for sale. $20 for club members. See her at the meeting or call 888-2304

back to top Last updated 07/12/06