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Buzz Words - October 2008

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. Future Meetings
3. Claire's Corner
4. Tips
5. The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
6. Web sites of Interest
7. Bee Books
8. Fruitless Fall
9. The Secret Life of Bees
9. Classifieds

NEXT MEETING -  The October meeting will NOT be at the West Barnstable Community Building.  We will be hosting the Massachusetts Beekeepers’ Association Fall Meeting and Honey Show at the Middleboro Lodge of Elks on Saturday, October 25th. This meeting will feature two nationally recognized speakers, a honey and wax competition, a silent auction of just about anything under the sun, and a raffle of bee-related items.

Barnstable County is sponsoring the Mass Bee meeting and  honey show this month in Middleboro. Directions and show rules are included. It is an education just to view the various entries of products from the hive. Quite an array of honey, comb, wax, candles and mead from around the state will do more than just hold your gaze.

Michael Palmer, a queen breeder from St. Albans, Vermont, will direct us on how to manage our hives to maximize honey crops. Who better to instruct us when his 700 hives produce 57 tons of honey,and the most perfect comb honey you will ever see.

Last year we featured monthly articles on establishing our own queen raising program. Dana Stahlman of Ohio penned thosse reports and he will speak at the meeting on this program. Dana will also give us some insight on controlling small hive beetle – great timing after September’s meeting.

 Please join us for part or all day with no fee attached. The only cost is for lunch if you decide to eat with us; but, get that registration form in quickly.   

Future Meetings
Saturday, October 4th- 27th Annual Wool Fair, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dennis Village Green, Route 6A, Dennis.   See fleece spun into yarn and many handcrafted items for sale. Many members are also beekeepers

Sunday, October 12th- we have been invited to share in the Honey Jamboree at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History from 12 to 4 p.m.  Meet members of the museum group and sell your bee-related wares to the public who will be coming to see and learn of the many facets of bees and beekeeping. Tables are still available for those wishing to sell.  Contact George at 508-362-8693
Saturday morning, November 8th- in conjunction with the Plymouth County Beekeepers. The speaker is Ross Conrad, author of “Natural Beekeeping”.  One more chance for us to “cross over the bridge” and interact with other beekeepers.  You will be home by lunch. More details to follow

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
The Package/Queen Survey has been tallied and following are the results, which, in turn, have been forwarded to our suppliers.
.   In April 2008 we purchased 275 packages for 118 members. 68% responded to our survey and included 48 veteran beekeepers and 32 new beekeepers. This represented 196 packages out of the 275 purchased.
   7 queens arrived dead in the packages. 136 queens or 69% were laying within 7 to 14 days.

Four to 6 weeks after installation only 48% had a full brood pattern, 21 hives had drone layers and 53 hives had a spotty brood pattern.  Regrettably 15% of respondents did not learn the condition of the brood pattern at this time.

In July we had 100 hives thriving or approximately 50% of the original packages in the survey. 34 queens had to be replaced. TEN hives had died and only one of those was a new beekeeper. The balance of the hives were reported as ho-hum, surviving, but only slowly building and probably should have had new queens early on.

To date, we know of four more hives that have collapsed and died.

So where do we go from here?  Ideally we need to overwinter strong hives. These may be split, but where do the queens come from? Making divides in mid-May, we might have our own Cape queens. Ailing April packages will need help immediately upon discovery. It seems reasonable to have extra queens available early on; but, again we are back to poor spring mating. Banking of queens is only healthy for a short period of time; but this may be our only recourse. Again, where do we go from here?

George will not have change. Please bring correct amount or a check. Thank You!

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Heft that hive from the back. If still light, keep feeding that 2:1 sugar syrup. 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 naptha -remember No Naptha!).  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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The Continuing Beekeeping Adventures of Paul ’n Patty
by Andy Morris

They got the call at about 7:00 Thursday night. Eileen reported that the weather had been good in Georgia and that the bees would be on time. Paul ‘n Patty were to go to the pick up place Saturday morning at 10:00, with their bee suits, gloves, and hive tools. They would be getting their new family. If they were interested, Eileen would be demonstrating how to introduce a new package of bees into a hive. They would be shown step by step just how to handle the queen, and other tricks that might be helpful.

In anticipation, Paul reread the binder they got with the bee school, and reviewed his notes.  Patty uncorked a bottle of wine and together they talked about…bees.

The entire class of Newbees was present. The array of protective clothing was interesting, ranging from what appeared to be able to stop a bullet, to the more conventional, to one bearded young man who was all smiles and dressed in a tee shirt, shorts pants, and sandals. When asked by Paul if he thought he was dressed appropriately, the man responded, “Oh, I guess. I was just driving down the road and saw all of you gathered here, dressed like you are, and was curious what was going on. Are you beekeepers?” Paul just rolled his eyes and turned to watch the lesson.

Eileen spoke of how the bees had been gathered at a large apiary in Georgia, poured by weight in to screened boxes, combined with a queen, some sugar syrup for food, and shipped to a large distribution point. It was here that volunteers from the various clubs in the area, and some individual beekeepers pick up the bees. “The volunteers from our club,” said Eileen, “who drove to the distribution point at the other end of the state and picked up the bees that were to be handed out today are here today. They are over there leaning against those trucks. If you get a chance, you might want to thank them.
“The bleary-eyed one with the torn jeans and cup of coffee is a former president of the bee club, Irasmus Bedragan. To his right is a member of the club’s board of directors, Adam Baum. The tall guy with his back to us is a local doctor, Lance Boyles. The last two, the young ladies, were Newbees just last year. Their names are Terri Bull and the club’s librarian, Paige Turner.

“These folks drove all night to get you the freshest bees possible. So, I think ‘Thanks’ are in order.”  The applause wasn’t deafening, but heart-felt. Both Terri and Paige were blushing because of the attention.

The group divided up into three groups. Each group was to be shown how to put the contents of the package into a hive. As before, Patty strongly suggested that the two of them attend different demonstrations, so as to better learn as many techniques as possible. Patty stayed with Eileen, and Paul wandered over to the location tended by Irasmus.
When everyone was comfortably suited up, Eileen began. She held up the box, which contained the bees, and showed it to everyone. “We have here about three pounds of bees. They were possibly shaken from many different hives, but because of the sense of disorientation, they get along. Notice how they are all hanging and clinging together. What you can’t see, because of the number of bees, is a can of sugar syrup, which has been their food supply since they were packaged up, and a queen cage. Several queen cages were passed around during one of the cases you attended, but you’ll get to see and handle one today. And it will contain a queen and several workers, her attendants.”

Eileen removed the outer and inner covers from the single hive body in from of them and said, “After I’ve removed half of the frames from the hive-body, and set them safely of to the side, I’m ready to begin the process of installing the bees.” At which point she, with unfeminine force, slammed the package on the ground. Hands shot up to shocked mouths, several gasps were heard, and a couple of people took a step backward.

“Not to worry,” said Eileen, calmly. “No bees wee injured. The reason I did that was to keep most of the bees in the package while I remove the can of syrup and the queen cage.” She proceeded to take out her hive tool and began prying off a rectangular piece of plywood from the top of the package. Now visible was the end of a can and an aluminum strip. Eileen pulled on the aluminum strip and in so doing lifted out the queen cage. She then slipped the curved end of her hive tool down into the package and lifted out the tin can. Quickly, she replaced the plywood cover.

“As was hinted to in one of your classes, there are many ways to proceed from this point. And the other two demonstrations are probably doing something different, but still a variation of what we are doing. Some people install the queen cage now by putting her between two frames. I install the queen later, but I use an additional piece of equipment called a shim. If I were doing this by myself, I would have the queen nearby, someplace in the shade, and safe so I won’t step on her.

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Websites of Interest
Want to find your property, and maybe even your beehives on the web? Go to http://> and click on “Set Default Location”; then type in your address, city, state and zip code and click “Save”. Then click on “Satellite” view. Move your cursor to the point you want to focus on, right-click, and select “Center map here”. Then push the zoom slide indicator all the way up to get maximum resolution. Amazing!

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Hello, the last book of the famous scientists Yves Coineau and Nestor Fernandez, "The honeybee, A handbook to diseases pests and other enemies", has just been published.

For any further information, please click

Best regards, Johanna Larcher, Editions Atlantica

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Fruitless Fall
By Rowan Jacobsen
(Bloomsbury, 277 pages, $25)
Every food on Rowan Jacobsen's breakfast table is there thanks to a bee. Honey Nut O's, almond granola, blueberries and cherries, apple cider and coffee: All are derived from plants pollinated by honeybees or are doused with the honey they produce. Even the milk that soaks his cereal comes from a Vermont cow that grazed on clover and alfalfa, two bee- pollinated crops. If honeybees and their wild relatives vanish, we could lose some of our most luscious fruits and vegetables -- up to 100 crops, from apples to zucchini. In "Fruitless Fall," Mr. Jacobsen warns that we may be on the brink of just such a disaster.

The Secret Lives of Bees
… being made into a movie
An article in the October issue of Reader’s Digest contains an interview with Queen Latifah. She has been cast in the role of the wise beekeeper, Augusta Boatwright. She talks about how hard it was to say her lines, to remain in character, while having thousands of bees flying around her.

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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 10/10/07