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Buzz Words - November 2015

The next meeting of the club is Tuesday, November 10th, at 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable. Our guest speaker will be the state's newly appointed State Bee Inspector. Refreshments will be served; donations of sweets and treats gratefully accepted.

Who Knew (or, could have guessed)

…our lives would be changed by the publisher of the journal for an obscure hobby such as beekeeping.

It was in the very early spring of 1904, in Huffman Prairie, Ohio, where A. I. Root, the publisher of Gleanings in Bee Culture, witnessed and then wrote about two very shy and secretive young brothers from Dayton who flew a machine without the aid of balloons.

The Wright Brothers had first flown their machine earlier that year at Kitty Hawk, of course, but there was no record of the event that would change transportation and, in fact, shrink the world significantly.

So, what has this to do with beekeeping? Not a thing. I found it interesting and wanted to share the story with you. It did show me not everything has to be pertinent to the focus of a publication.

It gave me insight to the varied interest and insatiable curiosity of an icon of beekeeping history, the original publisher of a still existing beekeeping journal, A. I. Root.

And most importantly, it showed me how to write a fluff piece on short notice (of course, I used to do that with my term papers in high school, but that was eons ago).

I hope you will investigate at least these two websites for more information. Actually, it might be said the connection between the Wright Brothers and beekeeping is the act of flying.

—Andy Morris

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Julie Lipkin -

BCBA discussion group -

Tamar Haspel -

Melissa Caughey -

Facebook page -

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Available at “app store” Bee health-**

Will help identify diseases and symptoms, and provide diagnosis and treatment options. It is developed for iOS and Android platforms.

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Last summer I received a call from a local trailer park to remove a newly arrived swarm. They were only two feet off the ground, so no ladder needed, and would I come and take them away. An exterminator had been called, and recognizing that they were honeybees, refused to kill them. I loaded my equipment into the car. I chose a deep super with about 4 frames of drawn comb unused and unoccupied at the time. I also took along 4 frames wired but with no foundation or comb. A supply of cotton string was also tossed in. I included a long thin carving knife which was later helpful in cutting away the four hearts of comb that they had quickly made. The swarm had chosen to make its new residence under the mobile home, hanging four hearts of comb on the underside of the trailer. The owner frowned when I called it a trailer! They were near his entry door, and tended to be a nuisance to him and his family, as they entered and exited their mobile home. There was a lattice work to be moved away from the mass of the cluster, which gave the bees a feeling of surrounding protection. I was able to gingerly cut away each comb heart from the bottom side of the trailer and place it in a wired frame and tie it, both sideways and up and down, with the cotton string. I was also able to set up the deep super and bottom board close enough to the swarm cluster to allow them to fall in or crawl in and occupy the frames of drawn comb. Quite a crowd assembled a safe distance away to watch this operation and many questions followed as phase one was completed. It was a great time with a voluntary audience to communicate the positives about honeybees, explain the reason for their swarming, and relate the nutritional benefits of honey! Phase two took place after sunset, when I returned to place the cover on the hive body, place a screen across the entrance, and load it into my car. During the intervening time all the bees had moved from the cluster on the underside of the trailer and its latticework to the hive, and the field bees had come back to discover their new, fully furnished digs. —Peter B. Cooper

Bee enthusiasts to gather for pollinator event in N.H.

DURHAM, N.H. — Bee health and research are on the agenda for a pollinator summit coordinated by the University of New Hampshire. Sandra Rehan, assistant professor of biological sciences, will discuss science-based information on nutritional requirements and diversity of native bees and factors influencing bee health. Rehan oversees the UNH Bee Lab and is conducting a multiyear research project funded by the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station. Cathy Neal, professor of plant biology and extension specialist, is collaborating with Rehan on the experiment station bee research project. Neal will discuss how to use landscapes, habitats, and plantings to support pollinator populations. She has been conducting landscaping and wildflower research at the experiment station’s Woodman Farm.

The bee research project has been funded by New Hampshire Agriculture Experiment Station at UNH. The project is assessing the biodiversity, floral hosts, plant-pollinator networks, and sustainability of native bees in New Hampshire. The project is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture. The summit is scheduled for Nov. 2 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.

—Melissa Sanderson

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The Beekeepers' Ball
The next planning meeting of The Beekeepers' Ball 2016 will be 11/11/15 @7pm in Yarmouth Port. Interested in playing with and planning this fabulous event? Email We are a 'more, the merrier' group.

—Kalliope Egloff

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It is very hard to think winter when on October 29th with a 69 degree temperature, the bees are still bringing in pollen and cover the rock in the bird bath sucking up water for the hive. Do you suppose the water is needed for the sugar being fed or are they already consuming the honey in the hive? We all know that in due time, the temperature will drop, the wind will howl and the snow will be piling up. So is your hive ready? Some folks have a protected environment for their hives and do little to nothing for winter preparation. And some of us go to the extreme to protect our investments.

It is too late to worry about your queen, but there is time to contemplate insulation (including moisture absorption), ventilation and sufficient stores. Think Thanksgiving Day to begin the wrapping and insulating. Ventilation and food stores are most critical. Mouse guards are needed but do not close the entrance down too much. Air flow is needed to move the condensation in and out an upper exit/entrance. Spaces (wood strips) placed between covers and insulating boards will help with this. Some of my hives will get a piece of homesote (as sold at the upcoming meeting) between the inner and outer covers to help wick away any moisture and create insulation. Others will get several sheets of recycled newspaper nestled on the queen excluder which is sandwiched between the inner and outer covers. A ˝” by 6” stick resides on the queen excluder frame all winter to help with air movement. The nice part of using the newspaper is that it can be exchanged when wet during the winter without disturbing the bees. Using 1” foam board works for insulating but will not absorb moisture so provide an opening near the top for venting.

If your hive sits on cement blocks or a solid platform, the IPM board might not be needed. Since my hives stands are open, I insert the board by late November wrapped with plastic wrap as I hate to wash them come late March or early April when removed.

To wrap or not? Here again, location helps with the decision. Wrapping will NOT overheat the hive but merely help break the winds blowing across open fields. Some folks have purchased the Bee Cozy quilts. Overheating the hive will create lots of moisture and faster consumption of the honey stores. So, again, ventilation is critical. If your hive has a windbreak and gets plenty of winter sun, you might not need to wrap.

There are a number of causes if your hive does not make it through the winter. And there are many times we just do not know why. (Starvation is the hardest to accept and the easiest to prevent). You CAN open your hive during the winter on a sunny, nearly windless day but QUICKLY to check for food stores. Since the bees only heat the cluster and not the hive, a quick peek is fine and replacement of food over the cluster right on the frames can be a life saver.

Take the winter to read. Read up on the varroa mite and the best IPM practices. Think and plan how best to keep your varroa counts low and how best to test (sugar shakes or alcohol washes) for those levels. The varroa mite and the small hive beetle will over winter in the cluster. As the colony builds in numbers in the spring, so will the pest counts. Bee two steps ahead!!

—Claire Desilets

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Fondant Recipes

Microwave recipe (feeds 1 or 2 colonies)

  1. In a 1-quart or larger microwave dish, thoroughly mix 1˝ cups granulated sugar and ˝ 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-by-6-inch pieces)

  1. Mix 5 pounds granulated sugar, 1 pint corn syrup, 11/3 cups of water in a large pot.
  2. Hold over medium heat to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. VERY IMPORTANT TO HOLD THE 240°.
  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 quarter-inch thick.
  8. Cool and slice into patties.

Mountain camp feeding – from Kelley Bee News (Nov 2011)

  • Use 1- or 2-inch spacer placed directly on top of brood box.
  • Add two sheets of newspaper directly on frames (leave one-third of frames exposed).
  • Mist paper with water spray or sugar syrup.
  • Dump 1 to 2 pounds sugar on paper and mist sugar to clump, repeat sugar and spray once more.
  • Misting sugar to clump will keep bees from carrying it out as a foreign material.
  • Condensation from cluster heat will be absorbed by newspaper.
  • If bees have not used all sugar by spring, use it to make first batch of 1:1 syrup.

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Recipe of the Month
Honey Almond Popcorn Balls
Yield: 24 popcorn balls
Active Time: 10 minutes

9 cups popped popcorn
1 cup chopped almonds
Generous 1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsweetened almond butter
Pinch sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Measure out popcorn and chopped almonds in a large bowl, stir, and set aside. Place honey in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stir in almond butter, and let bubble for 1 minute. Turn off heat and stir in salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. Carefully pour hot mixture over popcorn mixture and mix to thoroughly coat. Coat hands in nonstick spray or ghee and carefully form popcorn into 2- to 3-inch balls before the mixture cools. Store covered, for up to 1 week.

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If anyone is interested in organizing the annual holiday beekeeper shopping bazaar, please contact Claire Desilets for more information. This unique experience allows fellow beekeepers to share and sell their honey, crafts, and wares one evening prior to the holidays. (They do not have to be bee-themed.) It only takes a little coordination to run this event. Please consider volunteering a few hours of your time. Thank you.

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If you missed out on purchasing a homesote board for insulation at the last meeting, more will be available on November 10th. Each panel will be available for $5.00 to the club. See Claire or George

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back to top Last updated 11/3/15