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Buzz Words - October 2009

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Good Vibrations
4. Fall Harvest Fair
5. Claire's Corner
6. Glassware Saturdays
7. Did You Know
9. Tips
10. Classifieds

Tuesday, October 13th, 7:30 P.M., at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149 will review a number of wintering techniques gleaned from various members around the Cape. As time allows, members are encouraged to come with any problems encountered this past season. Everyone will benefit from this discussion.

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
I am writing this letter while extracting the honey from my hives.  This is the most disappointing year since I started beekeeping almost 30 years ago.  I am blaming the bad weather we had at the beginning of the season.  After all, it could not possibly be because of me, could it?

On Saturday, October 10 from 1 to 3 pm we will have the fourth annual “Honey Bee Jamboree” at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History on Route 6A in Brewster.  This event is co-sponsored by the Museum and our club, the Barnstable County Beekeepers Association.  There will be honey tasting, mead sampling, and candle rolling for the kids. There will be Museum honey for sale and several of our members will display and sell their bee related products.

The mills of government grind slowly:  We are still waiting to get our “not-for-profit” status approved. As of this writing, we are still waiting for the approval of the grant application involving our planned queen-rearing project.  The decision by the US Department of Agriculture is due at the end of September.  Hopefully we can tell you good news at the up-coming October meeting.

We still want to develop Best Management Practices for Beekeeping (BMP).  So far I do not have any volunteers to work with me on this project, but I know that you just were too busy to let me know.  You really want to be part of this effort.  Really. 


4-H Junior Beekeeping Club
With recent donations of used equipment from former members, a thriving hive from Doris and Bud Krueger, and funds (thanks to Andy Morris for his insisting that “bonuses” from his honeybee extraction activities be given to the 4-H club), the group now has a hive installed at the Barnstable County Farm on Route 6-A in Barnstable.

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Fall Harverst Fair
Will be held at the Barnstable Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday, October 3rd and 4th, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  In the past we have covered the Saturday.  If there are enough folks interested in doing Sunday, we can do both days.   

We have another box of Honey Candy, and lots of honeystix.  If any folks have honey and wax products enough to sell, bring them on. Shift hours can be split day or full.

At a recent board of directors meeting, it was voted to reserve 10% of all member sales to support the new 4H Bee Club (now at 17 youngsters) and to assist in the queen rearing program.

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Claire's Corner
As we wait patiently (and anxiously) on word of our grant proposal on queen rearing, we have tallied the surveys received. Disappointing, yes! Disappointing results, more disappointing is the fact that only 183 packages were reported on when we made four trips to pick up 345 packages. Just over 50% could make the effort to complete a simple survey. Disappointing; but, thank you to those that made the effort.

Each delivery was tallied separately due to the fact that 3 different apiaries were represented. Compared with the 2008 results, we fared better this spring. All packages arrived in good shape and not one queen reportedly arrived dead. Wilbanks and Rossman queens were laying well in the second week after hiving (75% to 83%). Gardner-Spell bees lagged behind with only 65% reportedly laying by 14 days.

Did you have a full brood pattern by the end of the first month? Think of when this occurred. In June we experienced 23 days of rain. No surprises when we do the math as the values varied from a low of 42% to a high of 75%. The workers had little chance to forage for nectar and pollen and had to rely on the beekeeper’s sugar syrup and some leftover honey. This resulted in a slow buildup and erratic laying of the queen, thus a spotty brood pattern.

Those hives that thrived (30 to 73 percent) did produce honey for some members. We are always tickled to hear of newbees extracting their first honey. It is encouraging when all factors click and we don’t have to think “well, there is always next year.” Interestingly, the early April deliveries from Wilbanks and Rossman proved to bee the better packages, with superior queens resulting in higher percentages of thriving hives. To date we know of 18 dead hives (10%) and 21 packages (11.5%) that required new queens.

One repetitive comment worth reporting is the aggressiveness of the Rossman packages. This is not a trait we need and it certainly takes the fun out of beekeeping. However, these packages did prove to be the best of the bunch.

So, what percentage would be realistic for healthy beekeeping on Cape Cod? Is a 10% queen failure reasonable? That might seem appropriate (unless you had the failing queen). There are so many factors that affect a hive it would be difficult to pinpoint an average. This season the rains dashed our hopes for a record honey yield. In the past a drought negated the nectar flow. Thus, weather is usually a major factor in successful beekeeping.

The quality and health of the queen in the package is, obviously, most critical. Here is where part of the problem lies. Although not reported, we hear of many queens just disappearing or laying has stopped mid-season. Thus, 18 dead hives (10%) and 21 new queens introduced out of 183 packages. So, is this where we pick up the ball and run with it? Yes, we will attempt to bank more queens from a reliable source for early season failures. Better yet, grant or not, there is much interest on Cape Cod to go forward with a queen rearing program using current, over-wintered surviving queens. Our success will not occur over a season, but can be accomplished.

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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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Did You Know

  • Oregon produces the most Christmas trees in the U.S., followed by North Carolina
  • A creosote bush growing in the Mojave Desert is estimated to be over 11,000 years old.
  • A kiwi can contain up to 1,000 seeds
  • AND, the seed of a double coconut palm can weigh up to 60 pounds!

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The traditional treatment for Nosema has been 1 dose in the first 2 gallons of 2:1 syrup that you feed your bees. In light of that, we picked up 2 jars of Fumagillin and will have single doses available at the October meeting, still a bargain at $1.00 per dose.

For more info on Nosema, see Randy Oliverís website Randy is a free-thinking commercial beekeeper from California. He writes in the national journals regularly and will be the featured speaker next month at the Southern New England Beekeepers Assembly in Hampden, CT.

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  • Tis time to switch over to 2:1 Sugar syrup if honey stores are light
  • Liquid feed should cease after the first killing frost
  • Fondant recipes will be in next monthís issue

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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 10/10/09