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Buzz Words - November 2008

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Barnstable County Harvest Fest
4. Upcoming Meetings of Interest
5. Claire's Corner
6. Bee School 2009
7. The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
8. Mass Beekeepers’ Fall Meeting and Honey Show
9. Tips
10. Bee Books
11. Classifieds

The November meeting will NOT be at the West Barnstable Community Building. We will be co-hosting the Plymouth County Beekeepers’ Association Monthly Meeting on Saturday, November 8th from 9 a.m. to noon, at the St. Peter’s Parish Hall in Plymouth. The speaker is Ross Conrad, a Vermont beekeeper and author of Natural Beekeeping, Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture. This will replace our normal monthly meeting

Directions to St. Peter’s Parish Hall
Take route 3 north to exit 6 if you are coming from the south. At the end of the ramp go right heading east. Go thru one set of lights and follow the road (Samoset St.) to the waterfront. Bear right at the roundabout. There is Al’s Pizza on the right and then a parking lot. Memorial Drive is the first street on the right. You can go into the parking lot from the waterfront or Memorial drive. The hall is the middle building across Memorial Drive.

From the President
I hope that everyone has finished taking the honey off their hives and is pleased with the results. As I mentioned at our last meeting, my yield would have been very satisfactory had it not been for my bout with the small hive beetle. At this time, the feeding should have been completed and the openings should be secured with mouse guards.

On October 25, our Club was the host organization for the fall meeting of the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association (MBA) in Middleboro. Our Club was represented by an impressive number of members. The meeting was very well organized, thanks to a big effort by the Desilets family (Claire, Andrea and Paul were heavily involved). The presentations were great (I am sure we will hear more about them from Claire and Paul) and the honey show had an impressive number of entries.

Two weeks earlier, the Honey Bee Jamboree at the CC Museum of Natural History in Brewster took place. This event was co-sponsored by our club and the Museum. Claire and Paul Desilets with their daughters, Betty and Ed Osmun and Connie Novitsky had their tables set up in addition to the Museum “bee group”. The attendance was very good and the sales very gratifying. The visitors enjoyed honey on French bread (donated by “La Petite France Café”, Hyannis) and the children and some adults were proud to be able to take their own rolled candle home. I believe that these types of events will help stir up interest in beekeeping. -- George

We wish Carl Monge, one of the “Grumpy Ole Men” at Armstrong-Kelly Park, and a BCBA director, a speedy recovery after undergoing serious cardiac surgery at the Mayo Clinic.

Barnstable County Harvest Fest
…. finally took place on a chilly Saturday in mid October. The club netted $107 from the sale of honey stix and honey candy. Members sold over $500 of honey and wax products. Lots of good bee talk and education passed among visitors to our building. Even the queen “strutted her stuff” in the observation hive all day and, undaunted by the light and onlookers, continued laying eggs a good part of the day.

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Upcoming Meetings of Interest
Southern New England Bee Assembly, (SNEBA) on Saturday, November 22nd, in Hamden, CT
Speakers are Rick Fell, Virginia Polytech, Kirk Webster, VT queen breeder, Larry Connor, author and queen manager.  More info at

B.C.B.A. Holiday Market on Tuesday, December 9th.  A great time to pick up all sorts of locally produced items worthy of Christmas gift status.  All members are encouraged to bring their crafts, whether bee-related or not. Last year we had the usual round of honeys, candles, hand creams and lip balms as well as hand-carved swords, paired with worthy shields for the little knights in our lives, and beautifully knitted hats, mittens and scarves.  We don’t want to fail to mention the fantastic holiday treats baked by our own ladies and gentlemen.

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Claire's Corner
“Good Judgment Comes From Experience. Experience Comes From Bad Judgment.”  This proverb was a recent find in a Chinese Fortune Cookie, and it seemed to perfectly reflect the discussions at the recent Mass Bee meeting. Beekeepers were relating the errors and mistakes they had made this past season. These “bad judgments” might have created more work or complicated a sticky situation, but, next season, with this experience the outcome just might be more positive.  On the other hand, this negative activity just might be the solution to next year’s predicament. So it goes with beekeeping.

Spring of 2009 seems so long away, but before we know it the dandelions will emerge, signaling a new season.  Decisions will need to be made to protect our honey bees from interfering pests and diseases. Which approach will you take: IPM, organic intervention, medications/pesticides?  A trip over the bridge for a few hours on Saturday morning, the 8th, will help you better develop that plan of action.

The state meeting this October brought two well-known speakers to MA.  Future newsletters will expound on the queen rearing program and how best to prepare your hives for that honey flow. One important issue that affects Barnstable County beekeepers is the increasing presence of Small Hive Beetle (SHB). We know they can survive winters nestled in or hives here on Cape Cod, but the take home message was that they are opportunists or scavengers similar to wax moth.  Several traps were displayed, but the simplest, cheapest, and most effective one is a strip of corrugated cardboard (approximately 3” x 14”) tucked on the bottom board of your hive. Remove, replace and destroy it each time you visit the hive. The SHB likes dark corners and will congregate in the “tubes” in the cardboard. “Tis a simple IPM approach worth trying. More later on other available and homemade traps.

Final tidbit – 1 gallon of 2:1 sugar syrup can add 10# of weight to your hungry hive.

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Bee School 2009
….. will commence on Monday, January 5th and continue on the 1st and 3rd Mondays in January, February, and March. We have moved over to the West Barnstable Community Building due to overcrowding at the Whelden Library. The board has decided to close the class at 30 families. To date, the class is half filled.
» View schedule

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The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
by Andy Morris

Eileen again slammed the package down on the ground and proceeded to pour all the bees into the hive body. A relative few bees began flying around, but, surprisingly, most of the bees remained in the hive.

“Now I’ll replace these frames I set aside. Don’t press them in. Just place them in and let their weight move the bees aside. With the frames all in,” she said, “I’ll put this shim on top of the hive body. This will allow enough space for the queen cage.” Eileen then asked one of the students to hand her the queen cage. When she got it, she pointed out the difference between the ends of the cage. Each, it seemed, had a cork blocking an escape hole, but one end had a white substance, which turned out to be a sugar candy.

“Remove the cork from the end that has the candy and, I use a nail but you can use whatever you think will do the job, poke a hole through the candy. This will help the bees clear the hole and allow the queen to exit. Be careful with the nail so you don’t “nail” the queen. I then place the queen cage screen-side down along the gap between two of the middle frames. This will allow the bees access to the queen so they can feed her but will have a difficult time if some them want to reject her. The longer she is in the cage the better she will be accepted. The hole should be cleared and the queen released within a week. Give her a week before you visit the hive again.” Eileen then placed the inner and outer covers on and proclaimed, “And that’s that. Any questions?”

After a flurry of confused and poorly posed questions the group gathered over by the trucks where a table had been set up for refreshments. Paul’s group was just coming from their hive when Patty felt a hand on her arm. A very flustered younger lady said, “I hope you can help me. My name is Augusta Wind. I ordered bees because I thought it would be a great hobby, but I didn’t have time to attend the Bee School. I have all of the equipment, but I don’t know how to put it together. Could you give me a hand? I mean, the bees are here already and I don’t have any idea to do all this stuff.”  Her eyes filled up as she put her fisted hand up to her mouth.

“Honey,” Paul asked as he came walking toward the two women, “how’d it go with your group?” Then he saw definite signs of distress in the woman talking to his wife. “What’s wrong?” he whispered.

As Augusta hung her head, Patty explained the situation. Paul gently took Patty’s arm and turned her, so they could communicate in “private”, and asked, “What do you want to do? We have extra equipment we could loan her. We have everything prepared. But we will need that stuff before too long.”

Patty closed her eyes, as she did whenever she had a hard decision to make, and slowly said, “If we say we will loan her the equipment, we are enabling her to depend on us, and, if not us, then someone else. If we say “No,” think of the poor bees.” She exhaled slowly, slowly smiled and said, “I think we should help, but require her to come to our house and learn to assemble the equipment, paint it and whatever else we did, to replace what we loan her.”

“We did join a club so we could learn and get support,” said Paul. “So I agree. But we will have to work out a schedule for her to do the work.”

Eileen overheard this interchange between Paul ’n Patty and, with a knowing grin, nodded her head. For, for years, she, and many others in the group, had been in exactly this situation. People who took on the keeping of honeybees with a cavalier attitude seemed to depend on the goodness of others to make up for their own shortcomings, disregarding the fact that it took years of experience and study to become intimate with another living creature to a degree that would allow both to survive.

Hand-in-hand, Paul ’n Patty addressed Augusta and her problem. “We have decided to help you out. But these are our terms: We will loan you the equipment to get your hive started, but you must agree to come to our house with your equipment and get it prepared the way we tell you. We will help you do this, but we will need that stuff before too long and we want what you give us as replacement to be as good as what we give you. Agreed?”

Several heads turned sharply as Augusta released a large sob. She gripped Patty’s shoulder firmly as she placed head on a very confounded Paul’s shoulder. “I’ll even bring dinner on the nights I come. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Over very sweet pastries and good strong coffee the three of them discussed what they had learned that day. A month ago, they would have been in hasty retreat, but today it seemed just normal to be sitting on the grass, with hundreds of honeybees confusedly buzzing around, talking and becoming friends. Patty began with an account of what Eileen had demonstrated. It turned out that the other two had seen different techniques from hers and each other’s. Paul’s group had placed the queen cage between two frames and, as Eileen had done, poured the bees into the box.

“My instructor was more gentle,” said Augusta. “She put the queen between the frames, just like in Paul’s group, but she just placed the package of bees on its side in front of the hive body. It was so cool to see the bees just migrate into the hive.”

Augusta followed them home. When they got to the house, Paul got their wheelbarrow and put all of her equipment into it, and wheeled it into the garage. Augusta had not even opened any of the boxes. It was clear that she was even less handy than Paul, making him feel quite good about himself.

To be continued . . .

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Mass Beekeepers’ Fall Meeting and Honey Show
The officers and members of MA Bee thank you for hosting this meeting, which had over 80 people in attendance from around the state. Our honey and wax competition drew 26 entries, with ribbons being won by folks from all corners. A novice competitor, Virginia Price, of BCBA, took two first prizes with her honey entries; thereby knocking some of the “veteran competitors” out of the ribbon competitions.

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Heft that hive from the back. If still light, keep feeding that 2:1 sugar syrup until they stop taking the syrup, or daily temperatures remain in the 40’s. Don’t forget to remove the feeder at that time. You also want to flip the inner cover over, so that the side with the space is facing down. This allows the bees to crawl over the top bars as they move to stay near the stores. Be sure to scrape off any burr comb so that you may easily slip a slab of fondant under it when the time comes.

Sure hope you’ve put those mouse guards in. If you have not yet done so, you may want to check for occupancy first. You don’t want to block their exit if they are already in residence.

Check stored equipment/wax for wax moth.  If evidence of wax moth is found, exposing the frames to air and sunshine will eradicate the problem.  Also, the cold night temperatures will kill the larva.

Store empty supers and hive bodies, which have drawn comb, with Para dichlorobenzene (moth balls without naphtha -remember No Naphtha!).  The Para repels the wax moths. Also, make sure the equipment is mouse proof.

Make sure there is enough ventilation to allow excess moisture to exit the hive.  Also, make sure the cover keeps out any rain or snow.  Moisture causes more harm than cold does; it causes hypothermia of the bees, and they will die.

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Bee Books
Natural Beekeeping, by Ross Conrad, available from the author at our November meeting.

“Bee Craft America” is an entirely new beekeeping publication in a modern digital format. It is designed specifically for beekeepers in the Americas and is edited by Dewey Caron and Ann Harman, both old hats at EAS and truly knowledgeable people.  Bee Craft America will bring a wide range of articles covering various aspects of bees and beekeeping.   Not yet available, but will give you all a “buzz” when we receive our first copy.

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Claire has 6 ounce flat-belly bears for sale with hi-flo caps for 50 cents each.

A slightly used plastic uncapping tank is offered for sale for $50.  It stores up to 10 frames for uncapping, has a cover, a honey gate, and a metal strainer grid.  Call Claire at 508-888-2304

back to top Last updated 11/01/08