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Buzz Words - May 2014

Next Meeting
Our next meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, in the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149 in West Barnstable. The evening will be dedicated to Questions and Answers for members. By this time, the new packages will be installed or established and many questions will evolve, especially from our new swarm of beekeepers. And those overwintered hives are just busting with bees. What might be the best way to manage them before drone saturation is available? How much honey do you feed back to the new hive and where should it go? You say you have a TBH? How much room do you give them to start and what is the best way to feed them? Come on over and we will put our heads together and come up with beaucoup solutions!

As always, sweets and treats are welcome.

Greetings Beekeepers
It is that time of year when we beekeepers get a much-needed lift with the arrival of our nucs or packages. For some it means starting new, and for some it means starting over.

This past year, winter won. Beth and I lost all six hives. Slowly and methodically winter took its toll. We decided to get two bee packages and start over. I am looking forward to saying, “Welcome ladies, welcome to your new home.”

Starting over brings forth a lot of questions. Should the hive location be changed? Should we use new frames or recycle the old frames? When should we insert the bees? How to insert the queen? When should we check on the queen? What about feeding methods? What to feed? And so on. Beth put me straight. Get out the books, use YouTube and Facebook and do your homework to put the ladies on the right road. Don't be afraid to ask another beekeeper.

Clearly, starting up or starting over necessitates having your plan well-thought-out and defined.

—Tom Nyhan

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

BCBA discussion group -

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Chive Blossom Vinegar
There is no honey in this recipe but it is an easy concoction if you have a plentiful supply of chive blossoms and love a flavorful salad dressing.

  • When blossoms fully opened, snip off the heads into a strainer.
  • Rinse the blossoms under cold water and let drain.
  • Find a large glass container and fill 2/3 full of white vinegar.
  • Stuff in all the chive blossoms, cap and tuck away in your cabinet for 3 weeks.
  • Best to make a note on your calendar.
  • Come 3 weeks, drain blossoms through a coffee filter, saving the vinegar, naturally.
  • Vinegar takes on a wonderful flavor of the chives and becomes a pretty pink hue.

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Down on the Farm
The Cape Bee project, which is working toward the development of a Cape-hardy strain of bees that can survive our winters better than the queens we import from Georgia, is moving along. Four of the project’s hives at Cape Cod Organic Farm in Barnstable survived, and we’re preparing 15 more at the farm.

The morning of April 29 was a cold and damp day. By the time the seven of us left, we had drippy noses, cold feet and frozen hands, but we got the work done! We scraped, sorted and put together 15 single deep hives all with honey, drawn frames and undrawn frames. George has made some beautiful supers to cover our hive top feeders thus we are ready for the packages now due for pickup on Friday, May 9.

Lynn is whipping up sugar syrup and Rebecca, Marte and Julie continued to add foundation to the built frames. George is on the prowl for more bobby pins to finish the deep brood frames. Oh, and we have clipboards and forms in the workbox to start recording once the packages are installed.

—Claire Desilets

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Fair's Fair
Barnstable County Fair July 21-27

It's that time of the year to be thinking of the Barnstable County Fair once again. The schedule will be attached but basically the fair will be from noon to 10 p.m., with the shifts being noon to 3:30, 3:30 to 7 and 7 to 10 p.m. closing. If you can be thinking of July for your summer schedule, please add volunteering for a shift in that schedule.

As usual, the newbees (if you let me know) will be on a shift with our veterans, who have worked a shift in past years. We can sell our own honey and other products from the hive (candles, cosmetics, hand creams, etc.). The club also sells honey sticks and honey candy. You will talk bees with the general public, answer their questions and show them where the queen is in Claire's observation hive, and sell our products. Even you newbees now know more than the public and can usually answer any question. The admission and parking tickets cover the whole day so you have time to see the fair. It's fun sharing your love for bees and honey with visitors to our building.

OH, by the way, we have a new location. Our building was moved to the opposite "Y" in the road. We are now on the left as you come in through the main gate of the fairground. Speaking of the new location, we will be asking for help to paint and make a new garden after the new ramp is built and installed. Information will follow.

Contact Marte Ayers,, phone 508-274-8754, to reserve your shift. Thanks

—Marte Ayers

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Workshops and Hive Openings
At 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 31 (rain date Sunday, June 1, same time), no matter where you live on the Cape, a workshop/hive opening for newbees and experienced beekeepers alike will be happening near you. These events offer a chance to see what’s going on inside the hive and to have it all explained by a longtime beekeeper. Events are scheduled in East Falmouth, Brewster, Wellfleet and Barnstable, at the following locations:

East Falmouth (run by Marte Ayers, at Soares Nursery, 1021 Sandwich Road, Hatchville. Location is ½ mile from intersection of Route 151 and Sandwich Road. Drive between 2 greenhouses. Please park behind greenhouses, not in customer lot.

Brewster (run by George Muhlebach, at Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, 869 Route 6A, Brewster.

Wellfleet (run by John Portnoy, at 60 Narrowland Road. (From the South, take Route 6A into Wellfleet and pass all the turnoffs for Wellfleet Center and Harbor. Opposite Moby Dick Restaurant, turn east (right) onto Gull Pond Road. Travel ½ mile, take left onto Chris Drive. Bear right at top of hill onto Mayflower Drive. About 200 meters at bottom of hill take right onto dirt/gravel road – Narrowland Road (homemade sign). We are second house on left about 200 meters just before you hit the power lines: street no 60 (508-349-9618).

Barnstable (run by Claire Desilets, at the Cape Cod Organic Farm, 3675 Route 6A. (Proceed to top of hill by offices, bear to the right and park in front of garage and field.

For all hive openings, be sure to wear protective clothing, as this will be a hands-on affair.

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Latest on Honeybees in Crisis
NPR has had a few recent updates on the decline in honeybee populations. An April 25 report (read or listen here focused on the losses felt by California almond growers, who are also dealing with this year’s drought. A separate blog posted April 30 (which you can read here focuses on the scourge of the varroa mite. The report notes that President Obama's FY 2015 budget proposes over $71 million for USDA alone to focus on the bees. Another recent update was provided in a TED talk by entomologist Marla Spivak, director of the Bee Lab at the University of Minnesota, which you can see here ... She identifies the four major contributing factors as: diseases and parasites; pesticides; monocultures; and flowerless landscapes. Her take-home message for us regular Joes: Plant bee-friendly flowers, and don’t use pesticides.

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In Other Bee-saving News...
The following site lists 13 organizations that are offering solutions for saving bees and other pollinators. If you go to the site ( you can read what they’re doing and how you can help, but here are the organizations: Avaaz, BeesFree Inc., Bee Raw, Burt’s Bees, the Center for Honeybee Research, the Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of Honeybees, Navdanya’s Biodiversity Conservation Forum, National Honey Bee Day, Save Honey Bees, Save the Bees, Save the Honeybee Foundation and Vanishing of the Bees.

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Need Bees
Any BCBA members still in need of bees for this spring may get in touch with club member Noah Wilson-Rich, founder and chief scientific officer of Best Bees Co. in Boston, who is compiling a wait list to help facilitate bee purchases. He can be reached at, or by cellphone at 617-407-8979.

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Equipment for Sale
1 medium super and 1 brood box; new frames assembled but no foundation. Call Louise Miller at 508-457-6689.

Also: The club has acquired a complete 8-frame hive consisting of 2 deeps, telescoping cover, inner cover, IPM bottom board, 1 honey shallow, hive stand and queen excluder. No frames or foundation. $100 firm. Check to BCBA, Queen Breeders. Email Claire at

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Did you Know?
There are around 25,000 known species of bees in the world, 4,000 of which can be found in the United States alone..

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Recipe of the Month
Almond and Honey-Butter Cookies*

In a departure from what’s usually printed in this space, this recipe is not intended for human consumption … but we’re all here because we care about our bees, so let’s give them a little love. This is a recipe for them, tried and tested by our March speaker, Dr. Bruce Gordon. Yes, it is April now, and (cross your fingers) this recipe probably won’t be needed for many months now. But several people asked for it after Bruce spoke, so here you go. This recipe makes two regular cookie sheet/pans full.

1 cup whole almonds, toasted
1¼ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup plus ¼ cup honey, divided
1/3 cup canola oil
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. toasted sliced almonds, for garnish

Process whole almonds in a food processor or blender until finely ground (you will have about 1¼ cups ground). Transfer to a large bowl and add whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt; stir until just combined. Beat 2/3 cup honey, oil and 3 Tbsp. butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well-combined. Add egg and vanilla and beat until blended. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; stir to combine. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

Roll tablespoons of dough into 1-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Press the tip of your index finger in the center of each cookie to make an indentation. Bake the cookies, in batches, until set and barely golden on the bottom, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 30 minutes.

Combine the remaining ¼ cup honey and 1 Tbsp. butter in a small bowl until creamy. Use about ¼ tsp. to fill each cookie and top with 2 sliced almonds, if desired.

* Recipe reprinted from Eating Well.

back to top Last updated 5/9/14