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Buzz Words - November 2009

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Good Vibrations
4. Future Meetings
5. Claire's Corner
6. Glassware Saturdays
7. A Win for Beekeepers
8. Fondant Candy Recipes
9. Classifieds

MONDAY, November 9th, 7:30 P.M., at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149  We have invited a member of the Connecticut Backyard Beekeepers to relate their experiences in setting up their queen-rearing program  Even though you may not be directly involved in our program, there will be loads of information applicable to all beekeepers.

Lynn Heslinga and Joe Cotellessa could use the help of a few fellow bakers.

Don’t forget to periodically check out member Julie Lipkin’s blog, AND add your comments to let her know that your are in fact reading her efforts.

From the President
Terrific news: Our grant application to initiate a local queen-rearing project here on the Cape has been approved. The bulk of the credit goes to Claire Desilets. She realized that we may have this opportunity, she spearheaded the writing and the submission. Congratulations and Thank You Claire. But, we should not forget that Jan Rapp, Leslie Lichtenstein, John Beach (and probably others) were involved too. Thank you all for this effort. But now comes the hard part, the implementation. This will be the main topic at our up-coming Board meeting and at our next club meeting on Monday, November 9th. We expect to have a representative from the Backyard Beekeepers Association here to tell us how they implemented a successful queen-rearing project in Western Connecticut.

Sue Angus, Julie Lipkin, Brian O’Donnell and John Portnoy have offered to participate in our club’s effort to write a set of Best Management Practices (BMP’s). Thank you for volunteering. For references, I currently have BMP’s from Connecticut and Florida and I am trying to get the ones from Maine. When I have this info, we will start our work. Winter will be a good time for it.

The “Honey Bee Jamboree” at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History was again successful. This event was co-sponsored by BCBA. Connie Novitsky, Ed and Betty Osmun and Claire and Paul Desilets displayed and sold their bee-related products, and distributed information about bees, beekeeping, BCBA, and Bee School.    When I started feeding my hives about a month ago, I realized they had been starving. They could take a gallon of 2:1 syrup per day per hive (this does not mean that I fed them a gallon every day!). By now, my bees will go into winter with an ample supply of food and I am hoping to be more successful in 2010. Always remember, the beekeeping year begins in the Fall, not in the Spring.


4-H Junior Beekeeping Club
The 4-H Bee Keepers will be meeting on November 2nd, at 5:30 pm at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds Administration Bldg. Andy Morris will be the guest "speaker." We'll be examining and talking about the donated frames, from the Kruegers of Plymouth. We'll also be building frames and inserting foundation for a new hive
The 4-H Bee Keepers meet once a month, on the first Monday, at 5:30 pm at the above location. If you know a child aged 5-18 who is interested, please let them know about this opportunity. The club is run out from the Extension Service in Barnstable Village. The contact phone number is mine, 508-375-6698 or 617-962-3315. I am the club leader. 4-H is currently engaged in enrollment/reenrollment, so now is a great time to join.

Thank you,
Kalliope Egloff

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Future Meetings
November 21st – S.N.E.B.A.- in Hampden, CT  Usually a fine meeting with notable national beekeeping figures.  This year will feature Dave Mendes, current VP of the American Beekeeping Federation, and Randy Oliver, a California beekeeper and frequent contributor to both American Bee Journal and Bee Culture, along with Larry Connor, the Traveling Beekeeper.  For more info, go to

December 15th – The B.C.B.A. Holiday Market is our monthly meeting, where our own crafty beekeepers display their wares, be they honey, candles, knit items, carvings, whatever, that other members may wish to purchase for the folks on their gift lists. There are usually many fresh baked items to go along with mulled cider or coffee.  Please come!  Please bring your crafty items. (Your own tables may be necessary.)

Bee School 2010 – will be held the 1st and 3rd Mondays of January, February and March.  Check the website for the actual class schedule.

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Claire's Corner
As we await the funding of the MA DAR Specialty Crops project, we thought you might like to see the direction taken when submitting the proposal. Honey was included as a “specialty crop”, not honeybees or queens.

The demand for local honey on Cape Cod far exceeds what beekeepers are able to produce.
Although crops, wild flowers, and flowering trees produce copious amounts of nectar, local area honeybee hives cannot take full advantage of the flow as they are in a constant state of rebuilding. Winter losses easily reach 50% county-wide and these losses have a direct effect on honey production. This is not poor management, but weak queens heading the colony.
The majority of queen breeders in the USA are in the southern tier states and many bee packages for the northern beekeepers come from that area. Most replacement queens for queenless or weak colonies also come from the south.
By raising winter-hardy, disease-resistant queens we will be able to strengthen our northern colonies. Strong queens will enable the colonies to make it through the winter an bring local losses more in line with the rest of the country. Strong queens will build up faster, overcome the vagaries of the spring weather and lead to higher honey production.

Recently over 200 beekeepers swarmed to Leicester for a Mass Bee meeting. We were fortunate to hear two great presenters, Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota and Heather Mattila of Wellesley College, both honeybee researchers. Propolis, Varroa Sampling, Swarming and Genetic Diversity were the topics.

Of interest was the new tool to calculate a more accurate varroa mite count in our hives. It begins with a sample of 300 bees (1/2 cup) taken from the surface of a brood frame. These are placed in a mason-type jar (covered with a piece of 8-mesh screen as in bottom boards) and 1-2 tbsp of powdered sugar is added. Roll the jar around so the bees become well coated, then let sit for 1 minute. Gently shake the jar over a container to collect the sifted sugar and falling mites. Count the mites and multiply by 1.3, Take that number and divide by 3, giving you the number of varroa mites per 100 bees, plus it factors in the varroa that is in your brood.

Example- 10 mites in shake x 1.3 +13 div by 3 = 4.3 mites per 100 bees and brood.

So what does one do with this number? It all depends on the season, strength of the hive and your management. A 5 or 6 in the spring with 20,000 bees spells trouble. Think of all those mites (all female) entering the brood cell and laying 5 to 6 young. How quickly they will multiply!

Whereas 3-4 mites in late fall with no brood and a strong hive might survive. Perhaps dusting with powdered sugar and maintaining a screened bottom would be of help. Apigard (thymol) or formic acid as soft chemicals (natural/organic) would be effective as the numbers rise.

The “take home message” was to know your hive by monitoring during the seasons, manage using IPM methods, and only treat as a last resort.

Refer to  Also provided at the above website is an online course of 4 sessions for $25.

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Glassware Saturdays
George will once again man the Glassware Store on the first and third Saturday mornings of the month.

Call or email George with your needs in order for him to have enough on hand.

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A Win for Beekeepers
Recently the town of Wilmington informed a beekeeper that he would need to obtain an “animal permit” from the town, at an annual cost of $40, in order to keep honeybees.  According to a letter from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR), the town’s Board of Health determined that the keeping of bees without a permit constitutes a public health nuisance.

The DAR letter pointed out that beekeeping is considered to be agricultural and therefore not a nuisance and that the focus of the towns bylaws regarding agriculture was animals “on the hoof” rather than bees. In the end, the Board of Health decided that they would not license the keeping of bees. They also invited beekeepers back to a future meeting so the Board could learn more about beekeeping.

It’s a happy ending for bees, beekeepers, and perhaps the Board of Health as they learn more.

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Fondant Candy Recipe
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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We recently received a call from a former member who has a stainless steel hand-crank 3-deep frame, or 6 shallow frame extractor for sale. It has had very little use, and has legs. A similar model at Betterbee costs $550 plus shipping.  You can pick this one up for $350.  Contact Bob Wright if interested – 508-237-7297 or email at  Gentleman says he also has supers in good condition.

back to top Last updated 11/10/09