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Buzz Words - October, 2005

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. Some Thoughts About Honey
3. Video Library
4. Feeders
5. Barnstable County Fair
6. Claire's Corner
7. Mass Beekeepers Association
8. Classifieds

Tuesday, October11th, 7:30 P.M. at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149. Pamela Latimer, Doctor of Chiropractic, with a practice in Harwich, will speak to us regarding measures to use in order to avoid injuries in our handling of hive bodies.

Keep Tuesday, November 8th open. We will be meeting at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History and will have Mario DeGregorio speaking on Cape Cod Wildflowers.

Some Thoughts About Honey
This is the time of year when our thoughts return to that golden sweetness.

We work during the winter, scraping and painting our equipment, replacing foundation and weak, damaged frames, and offering prayers that our hives survive the weather, the cold, and starvation.

Spring arrives and our hives have successfully survived. If not, we order new packages. In either case, we feed our hives sugar syrup (at a ratio of 1s to 1w) and await both a build up in numbers and the first nectar flow.
The nectar flows (or not, as in this year) and we put on shallow super after shallow super, anticipating the end result.

Suddenly it is late in the summer, perhaps September. Some hives are loaded. Some are light. Some frames are fully capped. Some are disappointingly only partially capped and we leave them on until the very last minute, hoping against all hope that the wild aster and golden rod nectar flows will be enough to complete these frames.

In the end, all frames are removed and we begin feeding again (at a ratio of 2s to 1w). The cycle repeats.

Somewhere in our kitchens, cellars, or garages, we begin the exercise that is the reason we risk our investments in time and money, our health and wellbeing (ticks, mosquitoes, and stings being the reality), and the respect of our neighbors.

Honey is nature’s perfect food. It can be centuries old and still be edible. It has medicinal qualities that can help heal open wounds. Many people feel it helps to relieve the effects of plant allergies. There is no denying that it is sticky. It has the ability to get everywhere and on everything.

When we uncap the frames, put them in the extractor, give them the necessary spin, and watch that golden sweetness flow into our containers, we get a satisfaction few people experience. We feel as warm as the golden color we are beholding. Time becomes as viscous as the natural syrup we have worked so hard for. The air becomes filled with the spicy sweetness of late spring and warm summer flowers. Problems dissolve, thoughts wander, all is well.

Andy Morris

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Video Library
There are 44 videos out at this time. Please return them to the July meeting. If you cannot make the meeting, drop them off at 186 Old County Rd, E Sandwich, or mail them to:

BCBA c/o Desilets, P O Box 808, E Sandwich, 02537

We have a list of titles we would like to purchase, but will not do so if the library continues to be abused. Please think of your fellow beekeepers.

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Did you increase the number of hives and forget to buy feeders? Do you not want to use bucket feeders? Have you heard of using plastic storage bags for feeders? Really simple, just fill a gallon-sized bag no more than 2/3 full of sugar syrup (or water) and place over the inner cover. You may want to place a stick or two under the bag to allow the bees to come up through the center hole and access the syrup. Just one slice along the length of the bag with a utility knife and the bees will be there lapping things up. Some folks place a piece of gutter guard or a stick to keep the bag from collapsing and trapping the bees that are trying to get the last drops. Just cover this with an empty shallow.

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Queens For Local Conditions
The following was contributed by Bruce Mogardo. There has been quite a discussion recently on Bee-L, and the following is from Bob Harrison, a commercial beekeeper based in Missouri.

Queens for local conditions" does not mean the queens have to be from the area.

Bees are bees! Some are a joy to work and other lines are a pain. All races have got their pro's & con's.

In my * opinion* all the current lines being sold in the U.S. reflect what the queen producer is selecting for. Why would they not? I would love to use names here but will stick to my rules. The top three queen producers selling Italian lines place prolific honey production at the top of their selection criteria.

I have listened to many Sue Cobey talks and what she said on what she selects for in her breeder queens; plus what the other carniolan sellers select for honey production is say 5 or 6 on the list.

Now if you requeen every year as many commercial beekeepers do and your business is only honey production (mine is not) then which of the above races do you go with?

I might add you will get bees which vary in gentleness, honey production, etc. if you are only raising queens from survivors. After years of raising survivors and you get a line able to tolerate the mites then selection for other traits can be done from those survivors.

If you have been using NWC or Italian queens from U.S. queen producers and you switch all your bees to Russian (unless one of the decent hybrids I have discussed before but those are less varroa tolerant from my tests) I think you might be disappointed in the bee you are working with. Those which have switched their whole operation to Russian/Russian report many traits they do not care for or *are not used to*. Reason is simple! The lines have not been selected for the traits they are used to seeing from the NWC & Italian lines. Keeping Russian lines requires a management change.

I do not care for the heavy use of propolis by many Russian and survivor lines. I guess I am not used to the propolis use after my other lines. Getting supers off is a pain and upsets the bees as frames are pulled up from below! There is also a problem with the lower box when removing the top brood box.

Bob’s comments are not reproduced here as an endorsement of any particular bee or any particular trait. They are merely added to make you think about what you want in your hives. For more on this subject, come to the Massachusetts Beekeepers’ Assn Fall Meeting, where you can listen to an Apiary Extension person, and a commercial beekeeper from St Albans, VT who should have northern survivor queens for sale next season.


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Claire's Corner
Cool, chilly weather is upon us and it’s coming time to wrap up this bee season. Mixed emotions prevail. This past season was a thrill for many of our new beekeepers as their hives expanded and produced a great crop of honey. Many veterans were not as fortunate, depending on location of their hives. Our own harvest was mediocre and basically disappointing. What seems puzzling is how well the hives built up from our dismal spring, and yet how strong they are going into fall. Many need stores but gave us honey. The goldenrod is so prolific right now that those empty cells should be filled before long. Have you been able to smell it? Even our observation hive necessitates a second glance as you pass it by.

Another disappointment was our failure to raise a few of our own queens. Lots yet to learn! We had hoped to raise and pass on a few queen cells nurtured from an overwintered hive. The first choice swarmed early in May, the second superceded and had no history. The third choice did not build up well, so we went back to the first choice early in August. This new queen had a great pattern and ideal mother, but refused to lay in the equipment. Perhaps next year, with the newness of the cell box having worn off, we might have success.

All of the literature suggests we raise or buy local queens. Winter hardiness is perhaps the main trait we need as those southern girls really do struggle to get through it.

Ed reminds us to feed as much and as often as the hive will take. Even though you have taken off a super of honey, there could be empty frames below. That top deep should be full of honey with little brood by October’s end. Remember, fall feeding is a 2 part sugar to 1 part water concentration. (5 lb sugar to 2.5 pts of water) Do not boil the water.

Don’t forget to heft those hives from the back. If you can easily lift it off the stand, you need to feed. It should be difficult for us ladies to budge.
Recently, we participated in a radio interview with the Audible Local Ledger in Mashpee. This is a radio program specifically for the blind. The interviewers had done their homework and had excellent questions and the hour flew by. This was a great reminder of how little the public knows about honey bees, except that they sting. All of you out there with a hive can certainly explain the basics if asked. Please keep in mind that the club has laminated posters, a miniature hive, and a traveling observation hive , into which you can easily place a frame of your bees and screw it shut. The girls will do well for a few hours in this vented equipment. With a few items such as smoker, veil, gloves, and hive tool you would be impressive to student and adult alike. If you are contemplating doing elementary students, speak with Andy Morris as he recently had a novel approach to compensation.

We still remain positive with the use of Honey Bee Healthy for requeening. Of the 22 queens we had shipped in during August only one was not accepted. The sugar based syrup with HBH must obliterate the pheromones that abound in the hive. 12 of those 22 were Russians, which can be a challenge unto themselves. Four established nucs (2 frames +honey +feeder) were lost to robbing. All but one nuc had to be moved into single deeps as numbers increased so quickly. We tried dividing a deep brood box in order to add a nucleus colony on each side with opposing entrances. This worked so well that we had to divide a second brood box for upstairs. The buildup has been very impressive!

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Mass Beekeeper Association
The Mass Beekeepers’ Assn invites you all to our Fall Meeting and Honey Show, to be held October 14th and 15th at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Fitchburg. The Friday evening program will be a presentation on the increase in the bear population in Massachusetts by James Cardoza, a Wildlife Biologist with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Saturday will feature David Tarpy, the Apiary Extension person at North Carolina State University, and Commercial Beekeeper Michael Palmer of St. Albans, VT. They will be presenting the basics of queen biology and management, and queen production. For further information, see Paul or go to our website at

Claire will have a few copies of registration info and honey show information at the meeting. Unfortunately, Paul will once again be working on meeting nite.

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For Sale – B.C.B.A. has Fumagillin-B available in single dose containers, just $1 per dose. No need to buy those large jars that will go out of date before you can use it all. See us at the September and October meetings.

For Sale - Formic Acid Pack $3.50 - (1 per customer) only if you definitely need it and understand how to use it. Explain to Claire @ 508-888-2304

Wanted - Do you have any of those cold, all steel queen excluders lying around unused? If so, call Paul Desilets at 508-888-2304.

back to top Last updated 10/5/05