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Buzz Words - May 2011


Tuesday, May 10th, 7:30 p.m., West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable. Blooms, blossoms, pollens and nectars will all be wrapped up in an informative powerpoint presentation by member Sue Phelan.

Juice/ Cider -- Volunteers needed.
Nibbles -- Volunteers needed.

From The President
Tribute to a Master

In Japan, a Living National Treasure is the term reserved for those individuals deemed as Preservers of Important Intangible Cultural Properties. On Cape Cod if we take that reverent title and proffer it upon Claire Desilets in recognition of her high level of mastery and dedication to the continuation of beekeeping we would be right on the mark.

If I am not mistaken, Claire has been wedded to beekeeping longer than to husband Paul. That apiarian relationship would be approaching forty-five years. This tenure describes only a small handful of our members and of that handful Claire would be the Queen. She has an inquiring nature and an exuberance that spills over to all that know and share her passion. Claire is selfless, giving, dutiful, a slave driver and never complains about responsibilities she regards as inherent to the success of future generations of bees and their keepers. Not only that, her sense of humor and humility makes her great fun to be with.

We all know that often a great leader almost always has a strong and silent advocate. Paul Desilets is as tireless and as dedicated to the Art of Beekeeping as Claire. Crunching the numbers, cooking the books, wielding the hammer, staying informed and connected throughout the Region, State and Country and providing Claire with the support that enables her to keep on giving.

Members of our board have these accolades to add:
The broad membership of our club sees and hears from Claire and Paul mainly at the regular meetings. That's only the tip of the iceberg. The Board also knows how much more both of them do in organizing the meeting, annual bee-shipments , bee school, renting the meeting places, Buzzwords, the Queen Rearing Project, etc. And nobody but the Desilets themselves know how many phone call they are fielding throughout the year. Where would our club be without the Desilets? How can we thank them enough?

The bees of Cape Cod may be unaware how much they owe to Claire and Paul – but the beekeepers certainly know. The hours the two of them have dedicated to tending their bees, supporting fellow apiarists and sharing the full bounty of their knowledge would collectively form a good, long (human) life. And all with such cheer! Like all great teachers, they are the soul of patience, treating no question as a stupid question. They have handled much of the drudgery of the BCBA's organizational minutiae competently and without complaint for years. In short, they are the heart of the Barnstable County Beekeepers Association.

I would simply say that they are always helpful, extremely knowledgeable, and remarkably hard working. I would call them the god parents to about a billion bees and slightly fewer bee keepers.

Everyone on the Board of Directors for the Barnstable County Beekeepers Association has some idea of how things get done and how things happen in our club. Spend 5 minutes with Claire Desilets and she will be relaying the latest data and information on Varroa and small hive beetle to the advanced beekeeper and, seconds later, be patiently explaining the metamorphic processes on the maturing bee to a novice. We on the BOD know how passionate Claire is toward both the bees and the club. She is the coordinator for Bee School as well as the bee shipments. Her additions to the monthly newsletter are informative and accurate. She is our liaison between several other organizations, including the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association and the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS), among others too numerous to mention. She is the backbone of the club. If you are a member of the club, consider yourself an adoptee of Claire's.

Paul, on the other hand tries very hard to give the impression that he has distanced himself from all the craziness from which Claire can't seem to extricate herself. But, we on The Board know nothing can be further from the truth. Paul has been treasurer of our club for about a half a century (maybe a little less). He edits the newsletter. He is deeply involved with both Mass Beekeepers and EAS. Has usually travels to the far reaches of the Earth to pick up the packages of bees and volunteers his property and time to distribute them.

Together, they have helped each and every one of us who are members of the club (and many others who are not) with some problem both bee related and otherwise. Who hasn't called them to borrow a piece of equipment, asked for an opinion, or seek some advice?

These are just some superficial observations of how deeply indebted we all are to the both of them. Paul and Claire are friends of mine and I am proud and humbled by that fact. So, please keep this in mind… CALL YOUR MENTOR FIRST!

Can always be counted on Puts out the best newsletter
Loves bees Always there
Answers questions no matter how dumb Upkeep for the honey house
Imports our bees and equipment Let's us all be part of the best bee association ever!
Runs our bee school
Everyone's mentor

Thank you for all that you do. —Jan

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Pollinator Plant Sale at the Meetinghouse Farms, May 14th from 9:00-12:00

There’s dirt on the floor behind the woodstove, there’s dirt on every shelf that commands more than an iota of sun, there’s dirt on the kitchen counter and there’s dirt under my fingernails. There are one day olds, week olds and month olds all needing attention. There are adversities and pests to fight. There is the proof of the Darwinist factor daily, surprises that frame the question, how is strength manifest. Renew, uplift your spirits… grow something, split something, root something, divide something.

Drop off anytime the night before or early the morning of. Call Jan if you need help…508-428-6949. Will pick-up from any area.

This event is the club’s main fund-raiser. Proceeds are distributed to Meetinghouse Farms, and to the Honey Bee Research Fund of the Eastern Apicultural Society, where the monies go directly to the researchers.

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

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Proposed ByLaw Change

Changing From:
Dues may be determined at any business meeting. Dues are payable at or before the Annual Meeting to be eligible to vote at the Annual Meeting. Members in arrears for two months shall be notified, and when in arrears for three months shall be dropped from the rolls.

Changing To:
Dues may be determined at any business meeting. Dues are payable at or before the end of the fiscal year which starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st. Members in arrears for two months shall be notified, and when in arrears for three months shall be dropped from the rolls.

The above change requested due to the confusion caused by the dues not being aligned with calendar year. We will run it again in the June issue of Buzz Words and vote on the change in wording at the meeting Tuesday, June 14th 2011.

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Upcoming Meetings
May 10th - The Secret Lives of Honey Bees - Heather Mattila, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, Wellesley College 1 Session: Tue May 10, 7:00–8:30pm Location: Hunnewell Building
Heather Mattila studies the social organization and the communication systems of honey bees. She will explain the different kinds of bees that are found in hives, their roles, and the means by which honey bees communicate. She will also touch on some of the challenges that are facing pollinator populations today.
Fee $10 member, $15 nonmember
May 10th - Pollinating Plants on Cape Cod – Sue Phelan
May 14th - Pollinator Plant Sale, @ Meetinghouse Farm, Rt. 149, W Barnstable. Club fundraiser
June 14th - Honey Harvesting and Preparation
July 19-24 – 2011 - Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference for information
June 25th – The 5th Annual Mass Beekeepers Association Field Day, at the UMASS Agronomy Farm in So. Deerfield
July 25 to 29 - Eastern Apiculture Society Annual Short Course and Conference, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cranston, R.I.

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Contributed by Helen Miranda Wilson
Over a million people, including 200,000 in France, signed an explosive petition to ban pesticides that are mass-killing bees the world over -- and, standing with a team of French beekeepers, delivered the petition to the French Agriculture Minister at a major conference. The campaign continues, building pressure for action in France, the EU, and around the globe. Here are some links.

Imidacloprid effects on bee population - Wikipedia
Ban Pesticide Killing Honey Bees - The Petition Site

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Bees and Nucs
As of this week (4/25) we have only a "predicted" date of package arrival, and that is 5/20 . The arrival of the 5-frame nucleus colonies just might also fall on this weekend. We really appreciate everyone's understanding!

Based on the number of packages and nucs, the pickup will be here in East Sandwich. We will do an Installation Demonstration at 1 p.m. for both packages and nucs. Bring your veils. Before the bees are here, there will be a short power point posted on our website ( with tips on nstalling your nuc. This should allay any fears that you might have.

With the arrival announcement, we will post pickup times. The nucs MUST FLY during the day, thus ONLY morning and evening pickups will be possible. We will be happy to work with the Lower Cape folks to coordinate a pickup. A truck or two will be needed.

Directions to 186 Old County Rd, East Sandwich --- Mid-Cape Hwy, Route 6, to Exit 4. Head North off the ramp for approximately 3/8 of a mile. You will come to a "T" intersection. Take a left on Old County Road, and our driveway is the first on the left. Please park on the street along our neighbor's fence. Driveway will be blocked.

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BCBA Bee Building on the Barnstable County Fairgrounds
As most of you know, we have a presence on the fairgrounds and it is a great venue for teaching folks about our favorite insects, and for members to sell their honey and items made from hive products. The building is beginning to look its age, and we need to re-side it. Due to the fact that we use the board walls to display honey and all sorts of informational posters we do not want to shingle, as the walls will be ruined for that purpose. Instead, we have decided to add clapboard to the exterior, over a skin of felt paper. That should make us weather and critter tight for many years to come. However, it will cost us approximately $2500 to $3000. For an expenditure of this magnitude, we need approval from the membership. We have enough funds to do this without straining our resources.

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Rebecca Matarazzi of my favorite months of the year, before June-absolutely my favorite month of the year when everything starts to bloom! I especially love May because there's so much to see in the bee hive! It starts with increased buzzing outside the hive with loads of pollen and bits of nectar coming in from the local ponds and rivers, a few drones hanging around on the frames, and yes, the starts of queen cells, either forced by you the beekeeper wanting to replicate that special strain of queen genes or by the hive itself. I saw a queen cell start yesterday, so I'm already thinking about timing of it hatching and using it in a split. It's also a good time to check the temperament of the hive. Is hive #1 a little "hot" and a little touchy? Does the queen need replacement with hopefully a kindler gentler soul? It's also not too early to start carefully lifting those hive bodies up to examine for queen cells on the bottoms of frames. Then decide if you're making a split this season or are you going to destroy them in hopes to dissuade the colony from swarming? And if you've got hive moving on your mind, switching hive locations is possible anytime of the year but much easier now that the hives are relatively light in weight. I've moved about 7 hives in the last week, much to my back's dismay, to new locations where hives are desired by neighbors or will provide a better foraging spot for my girls. The best times to move hives are before 9 a.m. or after 6:30 p.m. when the bees aren't likely to be flying. Sometimes after a year, one realizes that a hive may be in too active an area for pedestrians, or mowing and a time for a move is in order. Enjoy the blooms, look for those queen cells and put honey supers on in time!

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Bee School
….is now combined with the whole of the membership at the monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month.

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Contributed by Leslie Lichtenstein
I know most people don't keep chickens but eggs are always cheaper around this time of year as they lay the most in the spring, so you might want to try the following, warning it is not low calorie & it is addictive!

It's spring & the chickens are laying like mad. This honey egg custard makes a great dessert, or make it the night before & try some for breakfast when you don't have time to cook in the morning. You can make it in 6 custard cups or in a quart casserole. The recipe is very simple only the water bath is an unusual step.

Ingredients: 6 eggs, 1/3 to ½ cup honey, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3 cups hot milk (I use 1% but any milk will work), ground nutmeg & cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350, use center oven rack, lightly butter or spray custard cups or casserole, and place in larger flat pan on the rack. Boil water sufficient to fill larger pan ½ way up cups or casserole. Mix slightly beaten eggs add honey, vanilla & stir until blended, stir in hot milk. Pour into cups or casserole. Sprinkle nutmeg & cinnamon on top of the custard. Pour boiling water into larger pan so it covers half of the dish the custard is in.

Bake 25-30 min for custard cups. For a quart casserole, turn oven up to 450 for the first 10 minutes then back down to 350 for ~50 min. Oven times may vary with size & shape of cups/casserole. A knife blade inserted into the middle should come out clean when done. Remove from water bath & cool, before refrigerating.

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Grant Update
While we await the arrival of our queens mid-May, the hives are slowly building. We will begin queen rearing once drones are available, nectar flow is evident and there is an abundance of young nurse bees in the hives.

Upon the arrival of Carniolan Queens from Ohio, the committee plans to hold workshops in four locations. The goal is to make splits emphasizing the various methods by the individual beekeepers. Anticipated arrival of the queens is the second week in May. Rain in Ohio is currently delaying successful mating. Oh, how the weather plays such a role with beekeeping. A workshop email will go out. For those without email, be sure we have your correct phone number and you will be called.

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Claire’s Corner
As the weather finally warms, blossoms pop with pollen, our overwintered queens' production will increase rapidly. Management becomes critical at this point. We have rotated the deeps to provide more space, old (3-4 yrs) frames have been culled out and replaced with new foundation. Feeding sugar syrup continues, but we find the stores are sufficient to support the new mouths to feed and for comb production. Honey is a better diet in addition to all that bee bread.

How is the brood pattern and how old is the queen? We hope that by early June you might consider requeening with a Cape Cod Queen. Before that first generation of new bees emerge, you might consider a dusting with confectioners sugar to knock off those phoretic mites. See

Honey supers ready? If the weather continues and you have a strong overwintered colony, it is time to put on a couple of honey supers mid-May. The workers need time to clean the cells and repair the comb damaged with your uncapping technique. By the time the nectar flows, the comb will be ready.

Definitely have your nuc box ready and if you come across any swarm cells, once you have found the queen, and left her behind move the frame and cells over. This just might suppress a swarm and keep peace in the neighborhood.

Consider attending a workshop as hands-on experience is so much more educational than viewing a power point or photo in a textbook. We hope to offer several – notification will be by email.

Each time you open a hive, ignore the urge to look for the queen; but note brood pattern, activity of workers, number of drones and evidence of disease or pests (small hive beetle or varroa). Also, experience the weight of your hive by hefting the back under the bottom board. The goal is to not be able to lift it come August as it is crammed with stores for winter.

Slow movement while working your hives will keep you and the bees calm. Whether your attended our April meeting or not, the presentation on stings and allergies is now available on our website as a reminder. Keep in mind also that the cape is home to the deer tick. Always check your clothing and skin when finishing your chores. And, Ladies, check out the jazzy garden boots at the Christmas Tree Shops. We found them to be a good "insect repellant" when working your bees.

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Claire has available Honey Bee Healthy, $20/ pint, and Pollen Patties $4/2 pack May be purchased at April meeting, or at Sandwich bee pickups only.

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back to top Last updated 05/01/2011