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Buzz Words - October 2012

Our first meeting this fall, TUESDAY, October 9 th, 7:30 p.m. at the West Barntable Community Building, Route 149, Kalliope and the 4-H Beekeepers will have a presentation for our edification on the groups’ endeavors. We are always looking for treats and goodies to enjoy with a cup of coffee or juice. Don’t bee bashful.

From the President
Getting ready for the winter.  Got my mouse guards on, in time I hope!  To insulate or not to insulate.  I’ve been at this for 10 years or so and I haven’t insulated yet so I really can’t speak to its efficacy or not.  I did pick up an interesting observation in the September issue of Bee Culture where one author, speaking to the frustration of hives dying with all the food gone where the bees were but a good supply of food nearby.  The author points out that, just like you and I, bees don’t like to walk on cold surfaces such as traversing around the end or over the top of a super to get to the food supply.  In response to this the author put triangle shaped holes in the center of all ten frames in a deep, starting with a 4” by 3” triangle in the middle, and becoming progressively smaller in the frames closer to the edges.  The bees did not fill in the triangles and apparently used it as a warm tunnel to access food in the various frames throughout the winter. 

Also was talking with a friend off Cape about pollen patties.  He is adamant about giving the bees a fall pollen boost as a way of providing protein for the winter.  But what about small hive beetles I asked.  Isn’t a pollen patty an party invitation for them?  Well, he said, he just puts small bits of pollen in every few days and in that way the bees ingest it before, he thinks, the small hive beetles arrive.  Another interesting approach.

Maybe one of the reasons we find beekeeping so compelling is that it is part art and part science.  This is just another example.  I’ll let you know how they work out!

Upcoming Meetings of Note
Saturday, October 6th, MA Bee and Worcester County Beekeepers bring you Jamie Ellis, from the great state of Florida, and James Tew, recently retired Ohio State Extension Beekeeper. For more info go to   Cut-Throat Honey and Wax Competition Will Reign

Saturday, November 10th, 2 to 5 p.m. Plymouth County Beekeepers present Mike Palmer, of St. Alban’s, VT, speaking on his method of wintering hives and rearing queens.  This program is sponsored by Plymouth, Barnstable, Bristol and Norfolk County Beekeepers.  There is NO CHARGE for this event. More next month and it will be held at Pembroke High School. Perhaps some of us might wish to car pool.

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Recipe of the Month
Honey Panna Cotta: Cook one package unflavored gelatin in one cup cream over low heat, stirring until dissolved.  Add 1 and 1/2 cups half and half and 1/2 cup honey. Cook, stirring, until steaming; turn off heat, cover and steep for 30 minutes. Pour into custard cups; chill until set.  I have also used all whole milk and it works fine; lower fat version. This is good served with a little slightly stewed fruit on top (berries with a little sugar warmed up then cooled).   --  Jean Pettengil

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John Portnoy
I've been using an excellent website for plant identification put out by the New England Wildflower Society, link below.  There are lots of pictures, detailed species descriptions and simple keys so you don't need to know a lot of technical nomenclature.  I used it this week to identify mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) which my bees were all over for pollen. If you haven't used it, please check it out.

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Excerpt from an Old-looking Book on Beekeeping
From:  At the Hive Entrance, Author:  H. Storch, Published by: European Apicultural Editions, 1985

During the Winter:

(1) Observation:
Any beekeeper worth the name has to know what is taking place within the hive during the course of the winter months. On a quiet day, listen at the entrance of a well-populated hive. Most people will not hear anything at all; but a well trained ear will distinguish a soft buzz, similar to a lightly uttered “sh”.

Colonies that behave this way are healthy and are wintering perfectly. In such (a) colony, the cluster together with the queen fills the empty cells where the previous brood emerged. The average temperature of this area is close to 25 degrees (C). On the edge of the cluster the temperature is halved (after Dr. Budel (+10 degrees (C))). (A continuous to and fro movement from the outside to the center of the cluster occurs; the older bees are to be found on the outside). One believes this “circulation” to be the cause of the observed soft buzz. Mortality in such populations is always very low.        --  Andy

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Fresh Herb Salad Dressing
This dressing may be used on mixed greens or passed in a side dish to spoon over fresh cucumber and tomato.
1/2 cup yogurt 1/2 tbsp. parsley
1 tbsp honey 1/4 tsp fresh oregano, marjoram, tarragon,
1/2 tbsp lemon juice or basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp green onion finely chopped
Combine all and blend thoroughly. Chill before serving; use within a day or two. Use any fresh herbs you have growing-do not substitute dried herbs.
Recipe from Honey Feast published by Apple Pie Press
I would like to thank the volunteers who signed up to help in our building for the Harvest Fair. You all came through once again to help and I appreciate it. We have a nice supply of fresh honey for our hungry customers along with our honey sticks, candy and the products from the hive. Thanks again, Marte Ayers

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B C B A Blog
In an effort to lessen the amount of emails some board members receive, we would like to encourage members to join the new Google blog.  Healthy questions and comments would be more educational for all. Honeybees do not always follow the textbooks an beekeeping varies considerably across the Cape. Join at or follow instructions below and Dave will help get you on board.

Can’t go a day without wanting to talk about bees? Want to exchange information with other BCBA members between meetings? The BCBA now has a free, online forum where members can ask and answer questions, and talk about all things bee-related. All you need to access the forum is an email address. To sign up just email me at and let me know you’d like to be included.

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Check Out Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Tamar Haspel @

I thought you might be interested in this link from the Guardian: Bee study lifts lid on hive habits -     - Julie L.


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Seasonal Hints / Tips
Inner Covers- remember to flip to the winter side down allowing the bees more room to move over the frame tops. BUT check for burr comb and scrape well to make it easier to add fondant if needed during winter.

Feeding Pail- when filling, always check the screen. It can become clogged with sugar crystals or worse (if left empty for a time) could become propylized. Try scrubbing with an old tooth brush and cold water to clean the screen.

Mouse Guards- on STAT! and secured.

Supplemental Feeding- if needed, use 2:1 sugar syrup until first frost then switch to fondant/candy or dry sugar with the Mountain Camp method. The fondant can also be made and poured into the inner cover (flip and tape hole before pouring hot liquid). Once solidified it can be flipped over the top brood box. Do NOT forget to remove the tape, allowing access.

If you missed the YOU TUBE Candy Board that circulated earlier in the month, see the following: Make a 2 inch deep shim with a inch wire mesh bottom and line with wax paper. Mix 16# white sugar, 3 cups water and 1 tbsp white vinegar. Mix and pack into shim. Smooth out and let dry for 24 hours. A pollen patty can be tucked in the center assuming your small hive beetle count is low. Actually, the SHB will cluster with the bees and SHOULD NOT be laying eggs until the weather warms in the spring. This shim and brick of sugar will then be added in early winter for added feeding insurance. If not totally consumed, it can be used for making sugar syrup come late March.

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Top-Bar Hives
There has been a request to include a section in the newsletter with seasonal information on top bar hives. As this manner of beekeeping is new to most of us, we need your help. Should members submit questions or management techniques that have worked for them?

“Top Bar Hive Beekeeping: Wisdom and Pleasure Combined” authored by Wyatt Mangum, PhD. has been added to the CLAMS system recently. Also, the website has interesting information and will be periodically updated by the author.

Also, Julie Lipkin has passed on a weekend TBH workshop in Cambridge, MA on October 13th, organized by Christy Hemenway of

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Andy will be bringing club tee shirts at the next few meetings.  I had saved a photo, but am getting ruthless as the amount of saved innocuous material grows in this machines inner workings, so guess I deleted.

$10 each, check to B C B A or EXACT amount, please.

back to top Last updated 10/04/12