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Buzz Words - May 2013

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013, 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149, approximately mile north of the Mid Cape Highway. The newest member of the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, Horticulturist Russ Norton will present The other benefits of Polinator Gardens. This wil include an overview of the effects pollinator gardens have on other beneficial insects.

From the President
About this time last year Tom Seeley, a professor from Cornell, gave a wonderful presentation in Falmouth on his book, The Honey Bee Democracy. For those of you who went, enough said. Quite a remarkable scientist and quite a remarkable book. Recently I was forwarded a 13 minute video that references his work and points out the collective intelligence of a swarm of bees. The video goes on to highlight the similarity between the human neural system and a hive of bees; that is, one neuron is useless. It is the communication among millions of neurons that allows us to think, plan, do, etc. And it is the same with the hive-it is the communication among the bees that allows the hive to identify a nectar source, plan a landing spot for a swarm, react to an intruder, etc. The whole literally becomes greater than the sum of the parts and intelligent behavior is as much dependent on function as it is on structure.

I dont know about you but one of the many maladies of aging that I think about is dementia and how it can be forestalled. There certainly is ample scientific and popular literature out there about this issue for us to sample. But I think the bees have a message for us. Stay connected to groups (such as the BCBA)-it makes us smarter! Oh, I almost forget, here is the website for the video.


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Upcoming Meetings of Note
Saturday, May 18th Barnstable County Beekeepers Annual Pollinator Plant Sale, Meeting House Farm, Rte 149, W Barnstable Perennials, Annuals, Vegetables, Flowers, Tubers, Bulbs, Trees, Divisions

Saturday, June 30th - MA Beekeepers Annual Field Day, UMASS Agronomy Farm, check out our website at MASSBEE.ORG

E.A.S. 2013 will be held August 5 to 9 at West Chester University, just outside Philadelphia. If anywhere as good as was Vermont this past year, it will be a fabulous venue for all levels of beekeepers. Keep your eye on the EAS website for info after January 1st.

European Union enacts 2-year ban on use of neonics:

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Annual Pollinator Plant Sale
Saturday, May 18th at the Meetinghouse Farm, Route 149, West Barnstable

Your plant donations are most welcome!

Sea smoke a spring signal, house wrens echo that sentiment. Scratched seeds in the dirt soon emerge in concert with
dandelions, their greens sharing a salad plate, an affirmation. Transplanted starts bursting their pots anxious to be freed.

Barnstable County Beekeepers Association's Annual Pollinator Plant sale Saturday, May 18, 9:00-12:00. Meetinghouse Farm in West Barnstable. Don't miss the season's event! Your transplants would like their card filled to dance away to their new castle. Your starts wallflowers no more.

Perennials, Annuals, Trees, Herbs, Flowers, Vegetables. All potbound and present.
Drop off your donations at the Meetinghouse Farms greenhouse door the night or morning before.
All money raised goes to support honeybee research and the Meetinghouse Farm.

Call Jan @ 774-836-4317 if you need help or if you would like to offer help.

Soil Testing is available for donation.

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Claire's Corner
Queen-rearing project continues

An ambitious project is underway after a group of members met to lay some ground work. Please read through the attached page. Plans are to continue with monthly workshops, raising queens from overwintered survivors and building a healthy supply of summer nucs. We will need your help as the summer progresses.

Winter Survival Survey results will be posted the May newsletter.

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Spring Inspection and a plea for weekly inspections throughout Summer
After a dreadful 60% loss over the Winter, I caved, and decided to get 5 new packages of bees for replacement. 2 days after installation, I checked the newly hived packages to ensure that the queens had been released. Two of the queens had difficulty exiting and were still in their cages with their attendants. Upon seeing the gentle behavior of the rest of the bees around her cage, I released her and she happily trotted off along the frames. It made me realize how important it was to check and ensure queen release. Had I not checked, nor inspected until June or July, I probably would've inspected a hive that had very few bees. Sound familiar? So, remember to check your newly installed packages for success.

Two of my mentees had overwintered colonies boiling with bees. Both beekeepers, having experienced swarms, thought they'd like to split for increase and to avoid possible swarming. Upon inspection this week, David's colony in Wellfleet appeared to have queen cells on the frame bottoms of the top brood box, while Sue's P'town colony did not. From the colony with queen cells, we formed a 'nuc' containing the frame that contained the queen cells and brood, 2 frames of open and sealed brood, 1 with honey and pollen. In the host hive, we replaced frames with new foundation to further the "open space" and dissuade swarming. Again, a good idea, with this nice dry weather to take advantage of good weather to inspect the heavy colonies, make increase, and hopefully avoid a swarm that would cut into their harvest.

On my own new packages, 1 week after the queen had been released, I wanted to ensure that the queens were laying. All new colonies had beautiful, full frame egg patterns, so the inspection gave me piece of mind that I had well mated queens. I have only 1 over Wintered colony that will be a honey producer that I inspected a week ago and found it to be active, but not too active. By chance, yesterday I checked it- just one week later. Upon hefting the rear, I found it to be extremely heavy and loaded with bees. Upon removing the inner cover, I saw all 10 frames completely covered with bees, a drastic change from just one week ago. A considerable amount of brood must've hatched. I checked for queen cells by a quick tip of the top brood box, and upon seeing none, gave it 2 honey supers and went on my way. Again, I was happy that I followed my weekly inspection to both avoid a swarm and to get my honey supers on to give the colony expansion room.

I sleep easier with a weekly inspection. What helps me, upon inspection, is using a Sharpie marker to jot down notes on top of each hive cover, with the date, because then I can make a comparison from week to week. My early prediction is an early swarming season, so check your colonies and note their increase on a weekly basis and plan accordingly with the proper equipment in place. I wish you all a good harvest!! -- Rebecca

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Just a Spoonful of ..........HONEY

Squeeze out every last drop for one (or more!) of these sweet and savory mini recipes.

  • YOGURT FRUIT DIP = 3/4 c. plain yogurt + 3 tbsp. honey + 1/4 tsp. vanilla. Serves 4
  • SAUCE FOR FISH 1/4 c. lower-sodium soy sauce = 3 tbsp. honey = 1 tbsp. lime juice = 2 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger; pour over 4 cooked salmon fillets. Serves 4
  • A TOAST TOPPER = 4 tbsp. softened butter = 2 tbsp. honey = 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. Serves 4
  • DIPPING SAUCE FOR CHICKEN FINGERS = 1/2 c. mayonnaise = 2 tbsp. honey = 1 tsp hot sauce. Serves 4
  • A QUICK DESSERT = 1c. heavy cream = 2 tbsp honey; whip until thick' fold in 2 c. crushed meringues - 1 lb. sliced strawberries. Serve 4
  • INSTANT HORS D'OEUVRES = 1 sliced pear = 1/4 c crumbled Gorgonzola cheese = 2 tbsp. honey/ divide among 12 toasted baguette slices. Serves 4

This was an article in Good Housekeeping's April issue. which I thought was a good ad for honey with a large picture of a honey bear jar. -- Marte

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Suggested Nuc Installation Instructions

  1. When picking up nuc, if you are concerned about a few bees aflight, bring a sheet or towel to lay over nuc in passenger car. They are best transported in pickup trucks. Remember that ventilation is critical in a nuc. Hot spring water and sun can quickly cause suffocation.
  2. Once transported to hive location place nuc beside or on top of new hive. Remove opening carefully; you might want to lightly use smoke. Let nuc settle down from transportation jostling for a few hours (NOT DAYS!
  3. When ready for installation, remove all but 3 frames from new hive. Open nuc using a few gentle puffs of smoke. Remove one frame at a time and after a quick inspection (yes, you can carefully look the queen), place the 5 frames in the exact order as in nuc, against the frames in the new hive. When all frames are carefully placed, add the remaining empty frames to fill the hive.
  4. As with package bees, newly installed nucs should a 1:1 sugar syrup to stimulate the queen to lay. Perhaps 1 to2 gallons will be sufficient with drawn foundation. New foundation will require more feeding as the workers need the carbs to draw out the cells.
  5. Nucleus colonies build fast. Pay attention on weekly visits to when additional equipment needs to be added

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Seasonal tips

  • Continue feeding new hives (packages and nucs) a 1:1 sugar syrup till they stop taking it.
  • Conduct weekly inspections pay attention to brood patterns; a good queen will create a good hive.
  • Be one step ahead of the bees. Honey shallows should be added by mid-May for strong over-wintered colonies.
  • Watch for swarm cells a quick split or nuc will prevent the loss of your healthy queen, and will keep peace in the neighborhood.
  • Attend BCBAs pollination plant sale to keep your bees busy and happy.

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Tamar Haspel @

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Vermont Nuc Pickup


ONLY at Meetinghouse Farms, Route 149, West Barnstable
just north off of Exit 5 on Rte 6 (at greenhouse)

TIME 7am to 9am only
(pjs and curlers welcome!)

There will only be one pick up time and location.
Please make arrangements with a responsible member to pick yours up if not available

  • Remember when you purchased this nuc, it was with the understanding that this nuc box is to be returned.
  • The board is requiring a $20 deposit on each nuc box. Your check will NOT be cashed, but held and returned
  • when your box is returned. NO box substitutions!
  • Deadline for return of boxes will be no later than May 25th. They must be returned only to Claire and Paul's at 186 Old County Road, East Sandwich.
  • Please email so we will be here and have your refund ready.
  • Absolutely NO returns at meeting!
  • Neighborhood carpooling would make sense.

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I'm downsizing to 8-framers and wish to offer my spare equipment for free to any taker. Here's what I have in the 10-frame size: 4 deeps, 2 bottom boards, one base/stand, 2 tops/outer covers, 1 trough feeder, 3 medium supers, 2 inner covers. Susan Houghton,, 508-540-0578

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To be done every 7 to 10 days.

  • Note entrance traffic - High Medium Low
  • Heft hive from rear ? weight should increase as season progresses
  • Bees bringing in pollen? This indicates you have a laying queen
  • Activity between inner and outer covers? Few small hive beetle and ants OK
  • Does feeder need filling?
  • Look for eggs - larva - capped brood - cells filled with pollen/nectar
  • Note total frames - bees - brood - pollen - honey
  • Any damaged comb to replace? Burr comb to scrape away?
  • See the queen - exciting, but do not waste the time
  • See queen cells - swarm cells or supercedure in process (queen cups of no concern)
  • Excessive # of drones or drone pupa - failing or no queen
  • Pull a few drone pupa - check for # of varroa
  • Attitude - calm average aggressive (consider requeening)
  • Make notes in diary - progress of hive, weather, and equipment needed next visit
back to top Last updated 3/27/13