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Buzz Words - November, 2006

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Claire's Corner
4. Meetings of Interest
5. Andy's Ramblings
6. Holiday Market
7. Fumagillin
8. Interesting Web Site
9. Honey Jars
10. Armstrong-Kelly Park
11. The Lost Queen
12. Fondant Candy Recipes
13. Classifieds

NEXT MEETING - 7:30 P.M., Tuesday, November 14th, at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149, just north of the West Barnstable Fire Station.  This meeting will be a pot-pourri of beekeeping. We will blend wintering and feeding with Q & A, sprinkled with a discussion of small hive beetle traps, rinsed with wax cleaning info. The final embellishment will include encouragement to utilize the club’s educational tools.


From the President
I hope that all your hives withstood our high winds this past week.  I have ratchet straps around all of mine, which for a hobbyist is an affordable  product, not so for members with multiple hives.   I checked my hives on one of those warm fall days (yes, we've had a few) and all looks good.  Fall nectar seems to have filled my brood boxes nicely for winter stores and they are still coming in with pollen on their legs also.  That's a great sign for next spring's brood rearing and the mite count is down.   I could go on and tell you how I have winterized my hives but come to the meeting and you might find out.  We are doing your favorite meeting again, which I am assuming because we have a good turnout for this type of meeting.  Read up to find out the topic.   See you there, Marte

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Claire's Corner
Winter preparations will soon be done and we will have more time to reflect on the past season. What were the problems and mistakes to improve on?  As the population of small hive beetles increase, it becomes evident we all need to be better beekeepers and hive managers. However, without the availability of good queens, SHB becomes irrelevant.

With this issue of Buzz Words we would like to introduce Dana Stahlman, of Stahlman Apiaries in Ohio, who will be contributing a monthly series on queen rearing. Dana has recently established a Club Queen Rearing Project in Ohio. Perhaps in a year or so, we may have our own Cape Cod Queen with less dependence on those southern gals.

Dear Claire and Paul:

Beekeepers are being challenged as never before in our long history of keeping bees in the United States.  I am writing this after a long 50+ years of beekeeping experience.  In my early teens, I worked for my father and uncle in a commercial beekeeping business.  I really don’t remember starting beekeeping – it was always something I was expected to get involved in.  Those days are gone in many ways.

My grandfather was sold on Italian queens and I was raised with that prejudice.  When the mites became a problem, I began trying other queens as they became available always hoping that I could get something with mite resistance.  As I write this, we have some resistance but we still haven’t reached the goal of just not worrying about the mites.

I began grafting queens when I was 15 years old – I was taught by my uncle.   I have never considered raising queens very challenging.  What is challenging is finding good material to graft.  I am now of the opinion that color of a queen doesn’t mean a thing.  I want a queen that can provide me with a honey crop, survive the mites, and be easy to work.   I usually work my bees without much protection, and usually have no problems with aggressive bees.  However, I have always followed the rule that if I had to dress up to work a colony of bees, that queen was dead.  As a result, my bees have always been very gentle or they were dead.   Hopefully, the aggressive traits were bred out of my breed queens.

I retired two years ago from raising queens and have devoted my efforts since toward my local bee clubs.   One of these has become very enthusiastic about raising queens and I am going to share with you, what I have done and what they have done to develop a “Club Queen Rearing Project.”     I will share with your club all the materials I have developed to help the East Central Ohio Beekeepers Association.

Most members of bee clubs are becoming very aware of queen problems.  Some of these originate with queen producers, handling of queens by the postal department, and the new threat of Africianized genes in the queens shipped from AHB areas.  Some even suggest that the queen rearing business might shift to the North because of this.

How I approach a Queen Rearing Project!
It is important to explain to beekeepers that raising queens can be done on a small scale or large scale very easily.  All you need is good stock to work with.   Some resist the idea that they can raise their own queens.  They may say it is too hard and could never succeed at it.   What I want to emphasize is this “You Don’t Raise Queens” the bees do.  All you need to do is create conditions to cause them to raise queens.  In this series of items for your newsletter, I will discuss the value of locally raised queens and the value of clubs establishing a program for members.  If you are interested in such a project, the time to think about it is now.  You will have most of the winter to plan.  Members can raise just a few queens, or make some money raising queens for others, Clubs with bee yards can set up mating yards -- Larry Connor is a great advocate of groups getting together to benefit the good of all.   Your area is quite lucky to have other groups interested in this kind of project and getting speakers to speak on the subject would make for great club meetings.

Stahlman Apiaries produced a Buckeye Reb queen, a gentle dark bee. May 2003 was our last shipment and we still have 3 daughters and/or granddaughters. With good over-wintering qualities, un-medicated, and excellent honey production, this is a line we need to keep going. So far, our queen rearing has ended in frustration. Perhaps with Dana’s guidance, 2007 will be the year!

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Meetings of Interest
There is still time to register for the SNEBA meeting on Saturday, November 18th, in Hamden, CT. The theme is Queens, Drones and Stock Improvement and the speakers are: Dr. Diana Sammataro, USDA/ARS Tucson, Dr. David Tarpy, No Carolina State University, Raleigh, Mr. Michael Palmer, Commercial Beekeeper, President, VT Beekeepers Assoc., Dr. Larry Connor, WicWas Press.  For more information on this meeting, go to

Far off in the distant future is the last time you will be able to hear Dr. Dewey Caron speak in New England. Dr. Caron is retiring from the University of Delaware next year and will be dividing his time between Venezuela and the Pacific Northwest. He will be the principal speaker at the Spring Meeting of the Massachusetts Beekeepers’ Association on April 7th, 2007 in Topsfield, MA.

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Andy's Ramblngs - Swarm Stories
They’re Here…and to Stay!!!

I have a friend who is a bee-haver. He likes the idea of having bees, but he is not thoroughly involved in keeping bees. He is, however, the luckiest bee-haver I know.

Sometime during last winter his two hives died. We don’t know the causes, but as we all know, this stuff happens. My friend never opened the hive bodies to inspect and speculate, and I figured that all the frames would be destroyed by our friends the wax moth.

My friend came to me late in the spring and asked about buying a package of bees. I told him that the packages had been ordered by the club, and many, in fact, had already arrived. He had resigned himself to having no bees on his property this year.

Didn’t I get a call from him some weeks after that, an excited call, informing me a swarm had moved into one of his hives and seemed to be quite active. (I suspect it was from one of my hives I keep about a half a mile away, but who’s to know?)

Two weeks ago my friend asked me if I was interested in this proposition: If I remove the honey (If any. He never even checked.), and extract it, I could have half. We have been friends for many years, and it was only one hive, so, sure, I’d help him out.

I got to his hive, suited up (as always), smoker in hand (I didn’t know the temperament of this hive) and opened the outer cover. Shock of shocks!! There, running around on top of the inner cover, were a couple dozen Small Hive Beetles. They were certainly difficult to count, but I’m sure I’m not exaggerating.

I have seen a few beetles in some of my hives. Both last year and this, I had hives abscond (tank up with honey and leave the hive for a new home), abandoning the hive and all its stores of honey and pollen. The result of this was masses of Small Hive Beetle larva squirming and sliming through the frames. I never saw a beetle in either of these hives. I figure a single female beetle must be able to lay hundreds of eggs, so only a couple of beetles could have been responsible for all those larvae.    He did get about four gallons of honey from this free hive. But we, as beekeepers on Cape Cod, got even more.

Nature is both tenacious and delicate. Eventually, that which cannot adapt will die off. Eventually, the void left will be filled by something that could adapt, or by something new. The honeybee is such an important factor in our lives, working in the background to produce our food. Eventually, the honeybee will either adapt to the current problems; tracheal mites, Varroa mites, and now, the Small Hive Beetles, or be replaced. Plant pollination is too important in nature. The question is, can we humans survive long enough? Because we now live in a global community, we are in a position of responsibility. All to often we tend to ignore the larger picture and focus on the here and now. How can we prevent future problems instead of trying to solve them?

The Small Hive Beetle is here on Cape Cod and I’m afraid it is here to stay. What are we to do.

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Holiday Market
You may think we have lost it, BUT, there are less than 60 days ‘til Christmas! And less than 40 days ‘til the now Annual B.C.B.A. Holiday Market. Time to start making up those candles, lotions, soaps, and special honey products, for the club members to purchase. You may even have honey to bring to sell to those not so fortunate as to have had a crop this year.  Keep Tuesday, December 12th in your sights. It will be here before you know it!

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Fumagillin has arrived for those wishing to treat this fall with your fall feedings. It is a preventative for “gut-wrenching”  nosema in the spring. Standard usage calls for 1 teaspoonful per gallon of 2:1 sugar syrup, given twice in the fall. It will be available in single dose containers for $1. at the October meeting, or by appointment. 508-888-2304

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Interesting Web Site
A good site for hobby beekeeper

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Honey Jars
George has asked that we remind members that the "glass store" is open the first and third Saturday of the month from 10 AM to noon at Ed's Aquaponics Farm on Lombard Rd in West Barnstable

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Scrunchtime at Armstrong Kelly Park
Thornton Burgess's Old Mother West Wind adds a shawl to her shoulders, squirrels scurry about, the chipmunks are preparing for a snooze, honey bees are buzzing around the ripples of the brook at John Folk Water Garden, foliage flashes the reds and yellows of autumn, even poison ivy has sparkle in its canary colored leaves.  The Grumpy Old Men and "Gorgis Gals" who maintain A-KPark are collecting the leaves from the walks, mincing them to create mulch for the shade garden.  Our four legged residents are hoping for hotel space around a juicy stem but we don't build domiciles until the cold has settled and the four-legged friends have found other accomodations.  Our cobble fountain, "JOY", gurgles a greeting to those bipedal and quadrapedal guests who park near the purple beech tree. 

Our Gateway To The 21st Century is flanked by blue ageratum backed by dusty miller plus the red and blue salvia which contrast with the fresh painted picket fence.  The 32 foot left and right  escalating fences are ready to embrace the weary, leary or just plain lover of nature. Once you have passed through our Gateway, dahlias, begonias, cosmos, mums, asters, aconitum, gaura, Japanese anenome, joe pye weed, Montauk daisy and autumn joy sedum wave in the warmth of the late fall sun prepared to greet you. Pass under the wisteria-covered pergola and see the General Gavin Memorial, look skyward to see our flag against the striking blue.  At the edge of the trail, the last of ourFranklinia blooms are fluttering to earth.  Listen to the sounds of nature.  Stroll on down to JohnFolkWaterGarden and you'll see the birds bouncing along the brook, taking a sip and returning to the flower heads now mostly seed heads.  Now, hitch up your britches and be a kid again as youscrunch over the trail with a maple leaf in you mouth, inhale the autumn fragrance, enjoy the sounds of silence.  Shed a tear or two as you read a memorial to septogenarian, BobSmith; see a photo of a 32 year old dad World Trade Center casualty and pause by Liam's Train and recall the tragedy of a two yearold whose laugh is recalled whenever a toddler rings the bell on Liam's train. 

Wouldn't you like to be part of this technicolor extravaganza and forget the holidays.  We're full of trees but you can "Get A'Board" by getting a board in memory, love or jest.  Purchase a poem on our Garden of Verses.  We can create fountains, carved works of art or simply become a "Grower" for a $1000. donation. Go to our web site: or call "Carl" at 420-3635.  I'm sure we can help.  Get your holiday shopping behind you and you'll enjoy scrunching your way through our woods knowing you are preserving our quiet corner of Cape Cod, our village by the sea.

Armstrong-KelleyPark is Cape Cod's oldest (1930) and largest (8.5 acres) privately owned (by Cape Cod Horticultural Society) park open free to the public and their pets.

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The Lost Queen
A Newbie Nightmare just in time for Halloween!

My Sat 7 Oct inspection/beehive ‘to do’ list started like any other Saturday. My jobs were to get the first medicated feeding onto the hive and check out the deeps to make sure that they had increased their honey stores for winter. As I was arranging my tool bucket and supplies, near the hive I spotted a bee walking on some blades of grass. But not just any bee, it was a Queen! I must have looked 10 times…there was no swarm; there were no attendants…nothing, just a lovely little Queen Bee walking in the grass. To any normal human, it wouldn’t seem a big deal…but to me, a newbie, it was a horror, what’s she doing outside the hive?! End of the season…no queens to be had! All of that hard work for nothing, I’ll lose my whole hive the first winter!

I didn’t want to lose her, so I quickly fabricated a new queen cage with my original cage and some mesh from the box my package came in. I put her gently in it and sealed the plug with some leaves. Now I had to inspect. The bees weren’t acting any differently, not agitated, no loud buzzing; they were just going about business as usual. I did find eggs and larvae, so that was good, but I still couldn’t tell if this rogue queen was ‘my queen’ or some queen that just happened to be in the neighborhood. I would have to wait 3+ days to find out if I had a queen in my hive! I completed my inspection and drove like a crazy woman to Claire and Paul’s house with the little queen in her cage. Paul confirmed that it was indeed a queen (whew, I hadn’t lost my mind) and that I had a very perplexing situation on my hands, the likes of which he’d never seen! Gosh, if Paul and Claire haven’t ever heard of this, it must be serious! Paul rigged me up with a shim and some HBH to see if I couldn’t reintroduce her to the hive. But by the time I got home and back into my gear, she wasn’t moving at all and I decided it best not to put her back in. She was outside the hive for a reason, right?! 

Okay, now what? I proceeded on to my next resource…there was no section on Queens going AWOL in my “Beekeeping for Dummies”. So, I moved onto the Beemasters International Web forum…a plethora of information (some good, some strange) on all things bees. So, I do a few searches and found two other instances of the same occurrence on the same weekend, one beekeeper in Oregon and one in S. Carolina. I added my tale of woe to theirs. They complained of small swarms and some robbing, I had no small swarm; although some robbing did occur a few days earlier when I had placed empty frames from one super on top of the hive for the bees to clean (I have since found and destroyed a good sized yellow jacket nest). The Beemaster ‘experts’ came back quickly, they weren’t surprised at all…advising that likely a natural supercedure had taken place and that one of the new virgin queens may have gone out on her flight and not made it back or the original queen had been given the boot, for not producing well enough. I had never read about a supercedure this time of year, or even to be on the look out for it? I will say that there were several empty cells during my last several inspections, but I just chalked it up to the end of the season slow down. Boy, was I wrong. My girls had had a hard time since the start, really slow getting the comb drawn, seemed okay through the summer, and then this fall, they had virtually no stores, so I took the advise of the area mentors (thank you!) to scratch the frames in the supers and let them take the honey down into the frames, which they did for the most part.

So I waited, impatiently, until Thurs. 12 Oct to go back in and look for eggs…and there they were 100s of them, every empty space had an egg! This Queen is definitely busy…loads of little fuzzy baby bees wandered the frames! Also, in my inspection I found the dreaded peanut, actually 2 (although this time, I don’t think the peanut was so nasty, it probably has saved my hive). So, I returned all of the rigging that Paul and Claire had given me and agreed wholeheartedly when Claire stated that the bees always know better than we.   -- Heidi Parent

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Fondant Candy Recipes
Microwave Recipe (feeds 1 or 2 colonies)

  1. In a 1 quart or larger microwave dish, thoroughly mix 1 & ½ cups granulated sugar and ½ cup light corn syrup. No water.
  2. Microwave on high, stirring every few minutes until the mixture is clear and bubbles become thumbnail size (about 10 minutes). Stop immediately if the mixture starts to brown. A wooden spoon Is very effective for stirring, as it can be left in the dish during cooking.
  3. Pour into a mold made from cardboard or a container lined with paper to cool. The candy will become brittle and can be slipped on top of frames where the bees will consume it.

Stovetop Recipe (makes nine 5” x 6” pieces)

  1. Mix 5# granulated sugar, 1 pint corn syrup, 1 & 1/3 cups of water in a large pot.
  2. Hold over medium heat to 240 d on a candy thermometer. VERY IMPORTANT TO HOLD THE 240 F.
  3. Stir only occasionally, it takes a while.
  4. At 240 , place the pot in a sink of cold water.
  5. Change the water a few times.
  6. Beat with a mixer, cooling the mixture to 190
  7. Pour onto greased (Pam) cookie sheets to ¼ inch thick
  8. Cool and slice into patties

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Ed Osmun still has 12 oz. Bears for sale. He is charging $12 for 24.  Call 508-833-9696

back to top Last updated 11/6/06