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Buzz Words - October 2011

Tuesday, October 11th, 7:30 p.m., West Barnstable Community Building
Route 149 & Lombard Rd, West Barnstable
The 4-H Beekeeping club will be at the Barnstable County Beekeepers meeting on October 11 at 7:30 to give a presentation on 4-H. 4-H Extension Educator, Judith (Jude) Vollmer will give a brief presentation on Barnstable County 4-H; Club leader, Kalliope Egloff will give a brief overview of the 4-H Beekeeping club and their activities; club representatives President Ella Hunt and her brother, Declan Hunt, Treasurer Alden Hackler, and Olivia Rose will present on beekeeping; Jessica Hunt will talk about the process of bee school and starting a hive with her kids. The presentation will be 40 minutes.

From the Board
At our September meeting, it appeared that several members were concerned about “importing” bee packages each spring due to increased angry bees in some of the packages... The harsh reality is, if we are unable to maintain a certain % of overwintered colonies, whether due to lack of proper management or reluctance in splitting stronger colonies and making our own increase from chosen colonies, we will have no choice but to order Southern packages each spring. This is and has been an ongoing issue and one that every member has to consider in moving forward. My guess is that it’s only going to get harder and more expensive to get good quality bees each spring. The question is: how many colonies are enough and how many do I really have time to take on with my busy schedule?  Would it be a consideration to “share” a colony with a friend or neighbor instead of taking on the task myself? I love bee keeping; it’s a very rewarding hobby but it boils down to a lot of work to maintain 20 colonies in 3 towns. Like most hobbies, in order to be successful, I know that when I do not put in the required time either to inspect the colonies or to get my hands on more reading materials, I lose more colonies that year. Every year I learn at least one or two major things that help me sustain healthier colonies that take me into spring and ultimately bring me a better honey harvest. In the last 2 years, the most helpful thing I learned was to determine earlier rather than later whether I had a healthy queen laying a good egg pattern. Next, I learned that the sunnier the location, the better the temperament and the better the foraging nature. What did you learn this year? My Spring/Summer 2012 goal is not to order any bee packages, but to use the colonies that I have coming out of winter 2012 and split. Happy managing…      Rebecca

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

Disovery Magazine has compiled nearly 50 articles relating to issues and challenges facing bees. They can be read at:

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Fall Harvest Festival
Saturday and Sunday, October 1st and 2nd held at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds from 10a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. The Bee Building will be open and is another great opportunity for members to sell honey and hive products. And, YES, we have two new boxes of that favorite Honey Candy.

Remember that honey must be labeled with producer’s name and address (town) and weight.  Blank labels are available in the booth.  Also remember that the fill line is that ring just under the cap.

Marte Ayers has again offered to coordinate shifts. We need members for 3-hour shifts on Sunday afternoon. Give her a call at 508-274-8754 to help.

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Dan Rather on pesticides & bees
Dan Rather's investigative reporting team has produced a follow-up to their 2006 inquiry into Colony Collapse Disorder. Five years later, the situation remains substantively unaddressed by EPA.

Honey bees are still dying off at an average rate of 34% year, and the millions of dollars Congress set aside to investigate the issue have yielded no actionable findings for the federal agencies charged with stemming the tide of honey bee decline.

The report zeroes in on EPA's failure to adequately assess the toxicity of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides widely considered by beekeepers to be a causal factor in the recent honey bee declines.

How [neonicotinoids pesticides] got onto the market illustrates, according to several scientists we spoke to both inside and outside the EPA, the real deficiencies of pesticide regulation in this country, and the questionable role of industry in these decisions...

Chemical companies say neonicotinoids are safe for bees. But scientists say: prove it. According to sources and our own investigations, the companies have yet to submit one acceptable field study of systemics on long-term impacts to honey bees since the new pesticides were allowed on the market in the mid-90's.

In December of last year, PAN and Beyond Pesticides worked with beekeepers to break the controversial story of EPA's fast track approval of the neonicotinoids pesticide clothianidin — despite evidence linking the pesticide to honey bee deaths.

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Upcoming Meetings
October 29, 2011
Mass Beekeepers Fall Meeting, Colonial Hotel, Gardner, MA
You should all have received the Mass Beekeepers Newsletter. All details are contained therein.
November 19, 2011
Southern New England Assembly of Beekeepers, East Lyme CT. for details

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The following poem from the Walter Kelley Co 2011 Catalog
The Honeybees in rays of sun
 Will toil the days till evenings come
For fields of bloom they go far roaming
Returning home in evening’s gloaming

Inside the hive there comes a buzzing
Contented bees they are a-humming
With nurse on brood and guard at door
They fan the hive and clean the floor

With pollen stored and nectar ripe
With brood capped the queen may pipe
They do their chores and work together
Bounties gleaned from flower and heather

When night has fled and shed its cloak
The bees will stir for dawn is broke
And from the hive go forth the scouts
And so will do till time runs out (SB)

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Fall Tips
As we move out of Indian summer and into more seasonal fall temperatures, ARE YOUR BEES READY FOR FALL-WINTER?

  • Have you removed all honey supers? Make sure to store them in an environment free of mice and insects.
  • Are you feeding 2-1 sugar syrup? Do you know how many stores the bees have for winter?
  • Where are the honey stores in your colony? Allow 80 lbs. for ‘your girls’ to get through winter safely, preferably most in the top super.
  • Have you installed the entrance reducers/hardware cloth at hive entrance to avoid mice from entering?
  • Will you consider moving your colony to a sunnier location during the winter/early spring?

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Feeding Thoughts and Techniques
It seems certain that we are all wishing we had a crystal ball as we head into fall and winter. Did we feed the hive enough? Is there sufficient brood and young bees – fat bees – to provide for a good winter cluster? Will my queen be ready to lay come January? And still have honey and pollen to feed all the new mouths? Oh, please let them live through the winter and I promise to be a better beekeeper in 2012!

Until the first frost, we can right a few wrongs. It is too late if you meant to requeen but not too late for a final inspection. After hefting the hive from the lower back, delve in on a sunny 65° day and actually count the frames of capped honey, nectar and pollen. What better way is there to get a sense of how much is enough?

Most beekeeping texts guide us to winter stores of 70 to 80 pounds. What is that? Or how much is that in terms of frames of honey? A deep frame (or brood frame) with capped honey can range in weight from 5 to 8 pounds. Thus your ten-frame top deep should be packed with stores come the first frost. And, ideally, a frame or sections of comb should be filled with pollen or bee bread. This will be the meal ready for the first batch of brood reared during late winter. Don’t panic if you run an 8-frame hive. Your cluster will probably be found between both deeps with stores in each.

We do remember seasons ago when we did not feed a single drop of sugar syrup as stores were sufficient and the bees survived. But, as foraging areas are mowed and developed, the need for fall feeding has increased. And to insure starvation does not occur, we now add sections of fondant or bee candy during the winter, close to the cluster. (Recipes in next newsletter)

Using the Mountain Camp Method of feeding later in the season has found favor with many of our members. A single sheet of paper approximately 15 inches square is placed directly over the cluster and misted with sugar syrup. Pour granulated sugar on the paper to the edge and mist again to clump. Adding a shim is fine, or just the depth of your inner cover will work flipped to the winter side to provide more depth. Any condensation produced by the winter cluster can be used to liquefy the granules for use by the heater bees as stores begin to wane, or are out of reach.

There is nothing more disappointing than experiencing a dead hive that starved in February when prevention was simply a 5 pound bag of granulated sugar away.

And, remember a gallon of 2:1 sugar syrup can add ten pounds of weight to your hive. NOTE: The Mountain Camp method of feeding is also a very good deterrent to robbing.

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Top Bar Hive Enthusiasts
Our November meeting (3rd Tuesday, Nov 15) will be hosted by George Muhlebach who will bring and discuss the use of top bar hives. Several members are using them for the first time this season. We have a lot to learn regarding management and successful over-wintering.

If you have attempted one this season, please come and share your experiences so we all may learn from each other’s efforts.

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Hive Equipment
Just a note that the club maintains an inventory of equipment for members who look to expand, or to replace older equipment. We have purchased a larger than normal quantity of deep frames and foundation if you are looking to replace any over the winter months. Just email us or call for a price list and we can email it to you…….

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The club has been asked to sell an extractor for a member. It may be seen at our home in East Sandwich. It is a manual with a side crank, can handle 9 shallow or 9 medium frames. It is stainless steel, with legs. It does not appear to have been used. It is slightly dirty, but that is very easy to remedy. This is in the Brushy Mountain catalog for $495.
The first $200 cash takes it. Call before coming over. 508-888-2304

GOT HONEY???? NEED JARS????? Call Ed Osmun, 508-802-0509 to order your glassware. Ed has ˝, 1 & 2 pound Classic Honey Jars in stock. Sold in case lots only.

Are you thinking of expanding next season? Louise and Wallace Miller have begrudgingly given up beekeeping and have some gently used equipment for sale, including Deeps, Honey Shallows and Frames. For more info, call 508-457-6689

back to top Last updated 09/29/2011