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Buzz Words - October 2015

The next meeting of the club is Tuesday, October 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149, West Barnstable. We are pleased to present the folks from Edible Landscapes of West Barnstable for the evening. Dave and Julie plan, design, plant and maintain gardens of edible qualities including herbs and medicinal plants. They will be adapting their program to include our honey bees and native pollinators. Check out their website Refreshments will be served; donations of sweets and treats gratefully accepted.

Looking out the kitchen window and seeing bees streaking across the yard on yet another beautiful early fall day, I pause to take it in for longer than usual. It's so nice to have bees in the yard again after a tough year in which my beekeeping calendar started off completely out of whack.

While the big blizzard was ravaging my bee yard back home, I was at work at our field station in Brazil helping remove a swarm of nasty Africanized bees from the attic of the house after a series of escalating attacks. After a month of 100-degree days in the field, upon touching down on the tundra that was Logan Airport in February, the massive snowbanks and white-out conditions quickly filled me in on just how fierce things had been here. After digging out the house, I made my way to the hives and put an ear to them, but didn't hear any signs of life. Weeks later, after an eternity of waiting and hoping, the bitter cold finally broke long enough to take a peek inside and I confirmed a total loss. It was the first time in nine years of beekeeping that I'd ever lost all my hives, and in a year of many losses this one hit especially hard. It did come with a 'golden lining' - the honey that was left behind when one hive succumbed to the cold early on. Having honey to spin in late winter lifted my spirits a bit but I was still feeling demoralized and guilty for having to abandon my girls.

Every January I put money down to reserve a package before the early deadline as insurance in case of a total loss. Most Aprils I turn that package over to someone else who really needs it and get my money back, then set about building back up to my happy place of 3 hives from whatever bees I've got left. This spring, with no bees flying in my garden, it seemed to take forever for that Saturday to finally arrive, and to feel the wonderful hum of that nice, heavy package of bees as I carried it down Claire's drive to my truck. The drawn comb, honey and pollen left over from my dead hives gave the package a great start, and by early June it had grown to a 20-frame hive busting at the seams. I couldn't find any swarm cells but I gave them a third deep to work on and in only a week that, too, was chock full of bees and honey. I was about to leave on yet another trip, so I put down two more bottom boards and without even figuring out where the queen was or checking for eggs I did a 3-way blind split, crossed my fingers and headed to the airport. On my return 3 weeks later I was very pleased to find hatched queen cells in two of the boxes, with the original queen going about her business in the third. I added a second box to the hive with the original queen and moved some resources around, then gave one split to a beekeeping buddy who'd also lost her bees; later in July another friend gave me a split from her very robust hive that's had us chasing swarms for 3 summers.

So here we are already at the end of September, and that April package that gave up two splits now has two nearly full supers of rich dark fall honey awaiting harvest; the split I kept has built itself up without my assistance and is ready for wintering, and the 'swarmy split' from late July is taking syrup as fast as I can refill the buckets and is almost ready to face winter. So after a January swarm capture, a March honey harvest, and a silent spring, my bees seem to be back on track. Its surprising to me how much that makes everything else seem right in my world, and Im grateful for my bees and all that they give me. Fingers crossed for a less severe winter this year.

—Paul Lefebvre

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Julie Lipkin -

BCBA discussion group -

Tamar Haspel -

Facebook page -

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There are reasons for the recent flurry of activity with bee inspectors in Barnstable County. The first is the result of the appointment of a new Chief Apiary inspector for Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the second is a call had to be made due to the findings of American Foulbrood in a club hive. This is really the big, bad and ugly of brood diseases and in our case, the hive was burned including bees, brood and equipment. It can be very contagious and the spores of the disease can live for decades in equipment. This is a good reason not to pick up used equipment unless you are absolutely sure you know why the hives died and who the beekeeper was that owned them. The good news is that no other hives are infected and are flourishing.

This is a good reminder for all to be diligent when making that brood inspection. Below are a few pictures on just what to look for but also take some time and read a bit about just how the disease affects brood in the hive. Look for sunken capped brood, pin holes in some brood and a foul glue-like odor upon opening the hive. Do not mistake it for goldenrod pollen/nectar, another peculiar odor at this time of the year. Consider that it takes 4 months for it to fester in a weak hive before it appears. If you stir around in a cell with a toothpick and try to pull it out, it will have a ropy appearance. Many of us have learned a great deal from this experience. We will have a frame for you to look at during the October meeting but keep your hands behind your back! Cleaning your hive tool with a diluted bleach solution is helpful.

The third photo is of bees carrying out the head of a larva that has been infected with varroa mites in the cell. You will see an open cell that appears to be chewed around the edge and only part of a larva left. Varroa counts can be high this time of the year so another critter to be aware of.

—Claire Desilets

Thank you to E & T Farms, Rocky Bottom Apiary, Honeypot Hives, Outermost Honey, Julie Lipkin, Joe McClure, and Michael Hackworth for donating honey and money to the Bourne Food Pantry's celebration of National Honey Month. Close to 50 lbs of local honey from Falmouth to Provincetown was donated and some purchased (through generous cash donations), a cooking demonstration using local honey by Kimberly Concra (nutritionist with Barnstable County and a member of our association) was conducted, and educational material was distributed. The Bourne Food Pantry serves Joint Base Cape Cod and the Upper Cape.

—Kalliope Egloff

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The Beekeepers' Ball
Cape Cod Cultural Center, Yarmouth
5:30pm-9:30 pm
Fun for people of all ages with the mission of raising awareness of the honeybee during National Honey Month through education, the arts, with food and music. Interested in being part of the committee? We meet once a month for about an hour, from 7-8pm, on the mid-cape (Cape Cod Cooperative Extension's Field Station @ the CC Organic Farm. Join Kalliope Egloff, Mary Jane Beach, Melissa Sanderson, Kimberly Concra, Michael Chute, and others to help shape this fun and fabulous event!

—Kalliope Egloff

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As the Canada geese move South and West, Im filled with both nostalgia that a remarkably warm Summer has ended as we begin another bee keeping calendar year. Now is the most crucial time to gauge both the success of 2015 in terms of note taking and past performance in the bee yard, but its also the best time to see whats needed in terms of providing a strong colony going into Winter. Important parts of fall management include disease inspection, queen health and sufficient food stores evaluation, if it hasnt been done already. Weak or queen less colonies should be combined with stronger queen right colonies; equipment should be checked for cracks and holes; mouse guards should be installed now with entrance reducers kept at the ready, as field mice look for tiny holes in which to enter to spend their winter months. With our long, cold winters ahead, providing the colonies with adequate food stores, while leaving some empty drawn out frames in the center, will give the colony room for bees to cluster and the queen to lay eggs. Providing the colony with a wind break, some roofing paper wrap, a piece of rigid insulation under the outer cover and an upper entrance may help to reduce over wintering loss rates by cutting down on humidity levels and giving the bees an exit during sunny Winter and Spring cleansing flights, while perhaps making it a bit easier for the bees to move around within the cluster to get to those food stores. With the success of many New Bees this Summer, evaluating the colonies now give a better chance to improve our success rates of over wintering our colonies. Whether one feeds or treats, its best to know whats going on within the colony now.

—Rebecca Mattarazi

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Fondant Recipes

Microwave recipe (feeds 1 or 2 colonies)

  1. In a 1-quart or larger microwave dish, thoroughly mix 1 cups granulated sugar and cup light corn syrup (no water).
  2. Microwave on high, stirring every few minutes until the mixture is clear and bubbles become thumbnail size (about 10 minutes). Stop immediately if the mixture starts to brown. A wooden spoon is very effective for stirring, as it can be left in the dish during cooking.
  3. Pour into a mold made from cardboard or a container lined with paper to cool. The candy will become brittle and can be slipped on top of frames where the bees will consume it.

Stovetop recipe (makes nine 5-by-6-inch pieces)

  1. Mix 5 pounds granulated sugar, 1 pint corn syrup, 11/3 cups of water in a large pot.
  2. Hold over medium heat to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. VERY IMPORTANT TO HOLD THE 240.
  3. Stir only occasionally; it takes a while.
  4. At 240, place the pot in a sink of cold water.
  5. Change the water a few times.
  6. Beat with a mixer, cooling the mixture to 190.
  7. Pour onto greased (Pam) cookie sheets to quarter-inch thick.
  8. Cool and slice into patties.

Mountain camp feeding from Kelley Bee News (Nov 2011)

  • Use 1- or 2-inch spacer placed directly on top of brood box.
  • Add two sheets of newspaper directly on frames (leave one-third of frames exposed).
  • Mist paper with water spray or sugar syrup.
  • Dump 1 to 2 pounds sugar on paper and mist sugar to clump, repeat sugar and spray once more.
  • Misting sugar to clump will keep bees from carrying it out as a foreign material.
  • Condensation from cluster heat will be absorbed by newspaper.
  • If bees have not used all sugar by spring, use it to make first batch of 1:1 syrup.

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Recipe of the Month
Honey Baked Apples*

3 - apples, pared and cored
1 teaspoon - lemon juice
1/2 cup - honey
3/4 cup - fresh or frozen cranberries*
1/4 cup - chopped walnuts
1/4 cup - bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon - butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon - ground cinnamo
n salt
ground ginger
Halve 2 apples lengthwise; brush with lemon juice. Place cut side down in oiled baking dish. Brush with honey. Bake, covered, at 400F for 15 minutes. Chop remaining apple; toss with remaining ingredients. Remove apples from oven; mound apple mixture on apples. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes longer or until topping browns. *One-half cup dried cranberries may be substituted for fresh or frozen cranberries. * Recipe reprinted from

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Heather Swenson is looking for someone that might want to put bees on her property .... She has several established apple trees, peach trees, pear trees, berry bushes, grape arbors, gardens, wildflower field. Our biggest problem is lack of bees! If you hear of anyone looking for a great spot to put their bees, we'd love them! We use no pesticides and have only 2 seasonal neighbors who also are very natural based. We are surrounded by the lake on 3 sides so it's a great little point of land with lots of flowers and nature!

110 Nyes Neck Road East in Centerville. It's on Wequaquet Lake. My number is 508-662-7054.

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