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Buzz Words - May 2007

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Follow-up on Colony Collapse Disorder
4. Dana Stahlman
5. Claire's Corner
6. Bees
7. Looking for an Organic Location for your Bees?
8. Tribute
9. Pollinator Plant Sale
10. Annual Field Day
11. Seasonal Tip
12. Osterville Comment

Next Meeting
7:30 P.M., Tuesday, May 8th, at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149. Roberta Clark, Cape Cod Co-operative Extension Entomologist/Botanist, will speak to us about "The Beauty of Bees in Your Garden".

Lucy Wood has volunteered, but will need some help.

Annual Survey
» Barnstable County Beekeepers 2007 Survey (pdf)

From the President
Let me start off by saying "Thank You "for re-electing me as your President for another year. I understand there was a record turnout to hear Dave Simser's talk. Please return to hear Roberta Clark's talk on "Bees and Our Garden" this month. Roberta is the Cape Cod Extension Horticulturist and is also a master gardener. I'm sorry I was not here for Dave's talk, but on the other hand I had a really great cruise with an absolutely flat ocean for the whole crossing. Whew!!!

I brought the warm weather back with me. Well, for Cape Cod maybe it will only be a peek of what Spring is everywhere else but on the Cape. The bad news is I found that another hive died while I was gone. It was 2 years old and I had hoped to use that queen to start our queen-rearing program. Ugh. The good news is I have plenty of honey left for my new package of bees when it arrives. I can't give you a reason why it died except it was not starvation. Now that it is was warm enough to open it up, I can see it had dwindled down to a baseball size cluster and probably couldn't keep warm during these cold weeks. However, my last hive is flying strong. This hive was a new starter last year from a split and I let them raise there own queen. Now, I'll have to see if she winters over again.

I'm sharing this information as I understand there are others who have had losses. The survey that was sent out last month is going to be good for our club in understanding what the area is doing, so please complete and return it. Another source of good information is the American Bee Journal and Bee Culture magazine. Mention your club membership when ordering for an additional discount with either magazine.

Hoping all your packages are buzzing. Now I have to go out and dig up some flowers for our plant sale. - Marte

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Follow-up on Colony Collapse Disorder
For up to date information on this ongoing threat, consult the following website:

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Dana Stahlman

There are good years and bad years in queen rearing! This is shaping up to be a late season for raising queens in the North. Our Ohio temperatures are at record lows for early April – much of the nectar sources have been killed by frost and freezing cold. Drone that were being reared were forced out of the hive and are dead. The drone brood has been abandoned for worker brood. It will take at least a month for the bees to recover and raise enough drones for mating purposes. That will put us into mid May before we can get queens mated. The weather maps show much the same for your area. We can raise queens but without drones to mate with them, our efforts are fruitless.

In the meantime, I will continue with the series of articles I have written for your club. As mentioned the Miller method has a number of advantages for the person raising just a few queens. However, another method is marketed as a non grafting method called the “Jenter System” which I feel needs to be explained because many beekeepers see it advertised.

The Jenter System frame consist of a box like construction with openings for 110 plastic cells, a compartment the queen is placed in and two lids (front and back). The front lid is removed to expose the queen compartment and the cells where she is expected to place her eggs. The back lid exposes the back side of the cell cups which should hold the young developing larva. In addition one needs cup holders which are fastened to frame bars, cell protectors, and of course the plastic cells to fit the cage for the queen to lay in. The Mann Lake Catalog says, “This system of queen raising is completely graft-less! With this kit, the queen lays her eggs in the cell cup, eliminating the painstaking step of grafting! This system allows you to raise up to 110 queens at one time. All components are reusable except brown cell cups. Reusing cell cups greatly diminishes the acceptance rate.” I have had personal experience with this system and consider it expensive and not all that reliable. However, others seem to think it is one of the best systems they have ever used. I feel an obligation to at least share the system with you.

Front side Cell cup holders Cell cups Back side in frame

In principal this is a good way to get queens without much labor in grafting. However, queens resist laying in the cells and the eggs laid are separated by hours between the earliest egg laid and the last egg laid. Acceptance by cell builders is good if the eggs hatch into larva before being placed in the cell builder. At $69.95 for the kit, one raising a number of queens will find it inexpensive but for the individual who needs only a few queens, I would recommend the Miller Non grafting method.
In use the cage is placed within the hive – I used a frame with Plastic foundation with an area cut out
for the cage to fit. The honey bees can enter the front compartment of the cage which has openings much like a queen excluder to attend to the queen as well as fed young larva. The cell cups are removed from the back side of the cage and transferred to cell bars with the special cup holders. The hair roller cages and candy cup and closure caps are not really necessary if the beekeeper is transferring the mature queen cells into nuc’s before the queens emerge. However, with the wide range of difference in when eggs were laid by the queen, one might find that an emerging queen will cut down other cells before the beekeeper gets around to removing the queen cells and this could cause some disappointment when you are expecting a number of queens and end up with only one. I was hoping to include the Doolittle method in this article but that would make it too long. I will include the Doolittle System in the next article and follow that up with the final article on queen nuc management.

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Claire's Corner
To date, we have received only 10% of the members' surveys. What is evident from the spread sheet at this point are two negative facts. The majority of respondents do not keep records nor do a mite count. More on this later.

After full inspections, cleaning and rotating of our over-wintered hives this past weekend, a few observations were noted. Remember our concern in late December and early January with the mild weather? Would our hives starve as stores were depleted? It appears this was not the case as most hives were still full of honey and the clusters were not interested in consuming any sugar syrup. Even the new packages with a few frames of honey were not interested in the syrup. The hives becoming honey bound as spring progresses now appears to be more of a concern. Some honey has even made its way into the freezer.

Secondly, and more of a concern, is the small brood cluster. Apparently the queen has started and stopped laying as the weather fluctuated. Capped brood was evident, with no larva, but new patches of freshly laid eggs glistened up at us. Think about this - as the unusually warm weather continued into January, those workers were flying 6 to 8 weeks longer than normal. So does that mean that we lost more old workers going into winter due to the extended season? As a rule they are resting/working within the hive, not flying to the local bird feeders for tidbits. It appears we have lost a percentage of our spring work force because of this. Thus a smaller cluster coming out of winter, thus smaller brood clusters. Maybe?

A third observation in one hive could be the result of a beekeeping blunder. Keep in mind that part of our IPM is the use of a drone sink (using a medium frame in one of the brood boxes.) The difference in foundation size creates drone comb or a natural varroa trap that can be scraped off every 5-6 weeks. This is placed in the top deep all season long, but should be moved down during winter prep. If the beekeeper is not diligent in scraping drone brood systematically, you not only have an abundance of drones, but you could also increase varroa count. When pulling frames last week, we noticed an overabundance of drones. Laying worker? Oh, no, the queen just decided to lay eggs in the unscraped drone sink. More interesting was her great, solid brood pattern elsewhere and a large capped queen cell at the base of the drone sink. What to do? Let's see what's happening as we had hoped to mark the old queen - till we lost her. We suspect the working cluster thinks the queen is failing due to the large number of drones and have plans to supercede her, when actually if the beekeeper had moved the drone frame down, the situation could have been avoided. Will keep you posted on "the rest of the story."

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Due to cold, wet weather in Georgia, we are now 2 weeks behind in our pickup dates. As this writing our 4/21 date WILL BE THUR 5/3 and FRI 5/4. Sorry for the mid-week pickup but we have no choice, and we CANNOT arrange a lower Cape pickup. All packages must be picked up in East Sandwich. Pickup will begin Thrusday, May 3rd after 4:30 PM, and we will do an installation demo at 6:30 PM. The Friday pickup will be anytime after 1 PM or by appointment (508-888-2304.) Early evening is a great time to hive a package.

The packages due 5/5 should arrive the week of May 7th., date and time TBA. The nucs are still scheduled for early May. Hive openings will be scheduled in June for all our new members.

The pickup will be at 186 Old County Rd, East Sandwich, after 1 P.M. Directions - Mid-Cape Hwy to Exit 4, north off the ramp for approximately ˝ mile, to a left onto Old County Rd. 186 is the first driveway on the left. Befitting our love of bees a sign hangs above a large rhododendron proclaiming ROCKY BOTTOM, along with a carved honeybee. For those of you not familiar with our location, be advised that parking is limited. Please park on the street, along the neighbor's fence, and between our drive and the Chase Rd intersection.

It is recommended you bring a veil if you are going to witness the installation demonstrations.

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Looking for an Organic Location for your Bees?
The Cedar Springs Organic Herb Farm in Harwich would love to have someone put a hive of two on their property. If you are interested, and have enough bees and the time to put into an outyard, contact Donna or Brad at the farm (508-430-4372). If you want more information before calling, you may contact Fran Meriot, who has had a hive there previously at 508-759-6945.

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We have just learned of the loss of Malcolm Welch, one of our senior beekeepers. Mac kept his bees in Barnstable and will always be remembered as a true gentleman, dedicated beekeeper, and producer of perfect Ross Round comb honey. Our thoughts go out to Emma and her family.

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Pollinator Plant Sale
Saturday May 19th 10 - 1 @ The Meeting House Farm, Route 149, West Barnstable.

We need plants!!! Annuals! Perennials! Herbs! Vegetables! Trees!

All this and more to buy and sell

Beekeepers are invited to bring honey or bee products to sell as well.

Plants accepted from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m

Please call Jan Rapp (508-428-8442) to schedule pick up or drop off if your available times do not coincide with the plant sale date and time. Any and all help and donations are welcome.

It's usually a fun day so JOIN US.

Any divisions and seed starts should be in the works.


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MA Beekeepers Annual Field Day
Saturday, June 23rd, UMASS Agronomy Farm, South Deerfield, 9 AM to 3:30 PM., hosted by Franklin County Beekeepers Association and The Massachusetts Beekeepers’ Association. Workshops for beginning and experienced apiarists will be presented by Mass beekeepers and experts from the New England region. For more info, contact Paul Desilets at or go to

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Seasonal Tip
On April 20th the first dandelions seemed to peek up everywhere. Of course, that is our cue to rotate the deeps on over-wintered hives, and to give that bottom board a good scraping. Pay attention to excess honey in the brood chamber. As the season progresses, and weather warms, the colony can quickly become honey bound. Four full frames placed on the outsides of each deep is sufficient. The balance should be stored in the freezer to feed back to hungry hives in the fall.

The addition of Fumagillin-B is recommended to be added to the first gallon syrup given those new packages to hedge your bets against the Nosema protozoa. Single doses may be purchased from the club for $1. (If there are any avid picture takers out there, we can always use those film cans for packaging the Fumagillin. We also recommend recycling those containers- just bring them to your next meeting.) Claire will also have Honey-B-Healthy available at the East Sandwich bee pickups.

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Osterville Comment
The Grumpy Old Men have been grooming A-K Park for spring visitors. Phil Perry refinished Liam's Train for toddlers to five year olders to drive away into a fantasy world known only to them. The Dr. Merril Magnolia has replaced witch hazel for bee catchers. The John Folk Water Garden has been emptied, cleaned, filled with fresh water so that you and your friends can see the 200 gold fish including a very rare triple tailed beauty. The bees are on an expressway to the bog area around the water garden. Ray White has prepared two new hives for the bee packages now scheduled to arrive on May 5th. During winter , we lost three of our five hives. Bartlett Tree Experts transplanted a 20 foot tall Dawn Redwood (metasequoia) from Mahoney's Osterville Garden Center where the tree had outgrown its area. In blossom this week: hellebores, crocus, Scylla, daffodils, Dutchmen's Britches, winter jasmine, muscari, hyacinth, myrtle and the very rare night blooming, Polus Telefonus. Picnic tables, green lawns and over 1400 personalized planks welcome you to Cape Cod's oldest (1930) and largest (8.5 acres), privately owned (by CCHS) Park open free to the public and their pets. Carl Mongé, Grumpy Old Man

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