Current Newsletter
Archived Newsletters

Buzz Words - September 2007

Table of Contents
1. Announcements
2. From the President
3. Glassware
4. Upcoming Meetings of Interest
5. Claire's Corner
6. Andy's Ramblings
7. Fair Results
8. Fall Harvest Fair
9. National Honey Month

Next Meeting
We will reconvene at the West Barnstable Community Building on Route 149, on Tuesday, September 11th at 7:30 p.m. Getting ready for winter with timely tips will be the topic. Instructors will demonstrate with what and how they prepare their hives for those long winter months soon to be upon us. Prior to the meeting, consider putting your mouse guards in as the days shorten and nites get cooler

Annual Survey
» Barnstable County Beekeepers 2007 Survey (pdf)

From the President
Oh those hot, lazy days of summer. Whew. Even the bees are fanning. The property owner where I have my hives told me today they were going to charge me for water because the bees keep draining the birdbath to air condition the hives. I thought just maybe the sun was helping to evaporate it also. Then he gave me one of his heirloom tomatoes. Yummy!! I also had yellow jackets having dinner (I think) in my hives. Stealing is more like it, and my hives were very defensive. I received about 10 stings on arthritis arms and legs. One hive was totally empty of nectar but had brood. What a disappointment. So I cut 3" wide strips of window screen to desired lengths, folded them in half and stuffed them in to reduce the entrances. Since they were fanning without my reducing the entrances, I thought this would let in more air or heat out then the wood entrance reducers. I only left about 2" opened for the bees to enter. I'll check them in a few days.

Needless to say what honey I have in my winter surviving hive I am keeping to boost the other hives if they need it in the fall. I started 2 new hives this summer but they need to grow before winter set in. A third is still a "nuc" size from a swarm that had about 50 bees that had settled in a stack of empty supers. I had a beautiful queen that was not laying yet but now she has disappeared. So I'm trying to raise another queen. I may have to combine it with one of the other hives as time is running out for her to be able to produce enough bees for winter. I sure hope you are having better luck.

Keep the Fall Harvest Fair in mind for selling your surplus honey at a great price. We had no problem selling it at the Barnstable County Fair at $7.00 per pound.

I will be in Prince Edward Island for our next meeting but we will have speakers on getting your hives ready for fall and winter. So, I'll see you in October. -- Marte

back to top

The glassware has arrived and is stored at Ed Osmun’s farm on Lombard Rd, in W Barnstable. The B.C.B.A. Glass Store is available – by appointment – on the first and third Saturday’s of September. Call George Muhlebach at 508-362-8693 or email him at to set up your pickup time.

Prices are as follows: 24 x 8 oz - $9.00, 24 x 16 oz - $9.00, and 12 x 32 oz - $7.00
George will not have change. Please bring correct amount or a check. Thank You!

back to top

Meetings of Interest
Massachusetts Beekeepersí Association Fall Meeting and Honey Show
Saturday, October 13, 2007
9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Knights of Columbus Hall, Leicester, MA
Featured speaker will be Ross Conrad, author of Natural Beekeeping
Offering organic approaches to modern apiculture
Enter your honey or wax products and see if you can take one of those blue ribbons away
from the likes of Jim Gross, Claire Desilets, or Dan Conlon

Southern New England Beekeepers Assembly (SNEBA)
Saturday November 17, 2007
Unitarian Society of New Haven,
700 Hartford Tpke, Hamden, CT
Theme: Healthy Bees
Speakers: Dewey Caron, Jennifer Berry, Janet Brisson, Larry Connor
Hampden, CT

back to top

Claire's Corner
Mulling over the recent phone calls and emails, a few important issues surface as we begin our fall and winter management. So we will put all thoughts of CCD on the back burner for now and concentrate on a trio of situations that might be lurking in your hive.

Reviewing the club’s textbook would be helpful, but let’s think wax moth, varroa and AFB. Unfortunately all these diseases and pests are causing havoc locally. Wax moth is the easiest to deal with, but keep in mind that the Greater Wax Moth is an opportunist and is ever present in ALL our hives. When visiting a good productive hive we tend to forget what can happen. The numbers of wax moth will only spiral in a failing hive. It might be best to reduce a failing hive to one deep. That way the bees can easily maintain their household. The wax moth feed on pollen, cast larva skins and honey in comb.

When storing honey equipment that has been exposed to brood (no queen excluders) para-dichlorobenzene (not moth crystals) should be used to keep wax moth away. Damaged frames can be scraped clean and put aside for new foundation in the spring.

Varroa destructor is lurking in all levels in all our hives. Populations are the highest in the fall as all that brood has been reared all season long. Use those sticky boards for a 3-day count. If the count exceeds 50 mites per day, some form of treatment must be applied or the hive will be in trouble.

The least innocuous, but effective, treatment is the confectionary sugar application. Ideally we could have/should have been using it monthly as a prophylactic measure. A tip we picked up at EAS is to spread the powdered sugar over a piece of window screening, placed over the open hive. Using a bee brush, brush the sugar through the screen and it falls quite finely (?) on the bees and frames. Do not expose the brood to the sugar, but just let it drift down between the frames. Skewering the drones of late has shown very low mite levels in our hives. Perhaps sacrificing all those drones from medium frames all season long has proven effective.

Thirdly, a little seen disease has surfaced. How easy it is to forget the big, bad and ugly when varroa and small hive beetles are always on our minds. American Foul Brood (AFB) has made its ugly appearance in a few hives. Please take a healthy look at your brood pattern and appearance the next time you are in your hive. If your is highly populated and has a surplus of honey, and a solid brood pattern, you should be clean. However, if your numbers are down and there is a spotty brood pattern with dark wax, look carefully for perforated, sunken cappings. With a twig or toothpick open a few suspicious cells. Remember the ropey test?

How to treat – watch that hive tool and heat sterilize it. If only a frame or two seem affected, remove them and treat the hive with terramycin. The hive can be shaken onto new equipment and treated, but all removed frames should be burned or bagged for incineration. The hive bodies can be sprayed with full-strength bleach, and then scorched with a propane torch. More extensive infections of AFB, when discovered, should be destroyed entirely. Bees and equipment should be incinerated a.s.a.p.

How do these infections sneak up on us? It is hard to find a common denominator as frames get swapped, hives moved, used equipment purchased, and new packages and nucleus colonies are moved in. Preventative treatment with terramycin has been discontinued due to the buildup of resistance to the drug. So, just be ever aware of all the possible infirmities and problems that might affect your honeybee hives.

back to top

Andy's Ramblings
Ode to Jim Gross

There once was a Jim from Nantucket
Whose skills with honey weren’t luck. It
Won E. A. S. Blue
Ribbons, one more than two.
That sweet talking Jim from Nantucket.

Congratulations to Jim Gross. He had the confidence to enter his honey in the annual EAS Honey Show, and beat last year’s blue ribbon by an additional two. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Well, perhaps there might be one person nicer…

While at EAS, a place for many of the people concerned about bees and their well-being to meet, I had the fortunate opportunity to discuss issues about bees, their plight, and pollination with many of the foremost experts in the world. Although there were many lighthearted moments, the atmosphere was frequently grave. The causes and effects of CCD were on everyone’s tongues, hearts and minds. As yet, nothing definitive has been discovered. One problem standing in the way of a possible solution is funding. The monies with which the researchers have at their disposal are what I would call meager. I overheard Mike Palmer from Vermont say that if one third of the cattle in this country came down with Mad Cow Disease, there would be no shortage of funding for research. But, when a third of the pollinators in the country die off, no one cares. I put it this way: Just think of the national reaction if a third of the pet dogs were to suddenly disappear. And they don’t provide even a little bit of the food on your plate. Perhaps it is time to get political and write to both state and federal representatives to look at the problem and get involved. Perhaps Paul knows some addresses or phone numbers we can use. After all, we pay their salaries…they work for us!

The nicest thing to happen to me related to EAS 2007, occurred after I returned home. While it is true that New England was well represented, as was Massachusetts, the Barnstable County Beekeepers had significant numbers in attendance. And the most enthusiastic representative of our club was Bobby Waldron. I’d like to say he was as excited as a twelve year old boy at a nudist camp, but that might be too crass, so, instead I’ll just say he had a great time. Anyway, that nicest thing I just mentioned happened at my place of employment. Bobby showed up with a folder of photographs he had taken of the group of us from the Cape and Nantucket. These were for me to keep. These are photos I will keep. A grateful thanks.

On a musical theme, the chorus from a Hall and Oates song:

(She's Gone Oh I, Oh I'd
Better learn how to face it.
She's Gone Oh I, Oh I'd
Pay the devil to replace her
She's Gone - what went wrong?)

seems appropriate. I had, just three days before, made a split; a couple of frames from another hive, introduced a queen in her cage and let them release her. Only problem was, when I checked, she was still in the queen cage. No problem, says you. Just pry the screened top open and let her crawl down into the frames. Only problem was…she flew away!! I lost track of her with all the circling bees and after waiting several minutes, I closed up the Nuc and walked away. I checked later that evening thinking bees might gather around her on some branch nearby but thee was no indication of a cluster. The next day I couldn’t check (I had a very important golf tournament), so today, Monday, August 27, 2007, I cautiously opened the Nuc and removed the outside frame. Low and behold…no queen. Disappointment slowly began descending. I pulled the next frame and to my surprise…no queen. Well, there were two more frames to go. There was still hope. I pulled frame three. The first side got scanned as carefully as possible…no queen. I flipped frame three over and there, decorated with her bright yellow dot was the queen, and she had already laid eggs. I think she is my favorite.

Thanks to Claire and Paul Desilets for, once again, putting up with me. I can hardly stand me, but they seem able to tolerate me some how. Perhaps they are just the best people.
Ain’t life good?

back to top

Fair Results
Monetary results for the 2007 Fair week are: $4437 in sales, minus $2581 to members for sales, $952 for candy, and set-up costs, left the treasury $904 richer.

back to top

Fall Harvest Fair
On Saturday, September 29th the bee booth will be open at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds*. The educational display will be resurrected and we could use YOUR HONEY for sale.

Honeysticks will be available and we were able to purchase 4 cases of honey candy to keep our visitors happy. The observation hive will be there after having a 4th frame of brood removed this season. It is just a gangbuster hive!

*This one-day event (10 a.m. to 4p.m.) is sponsored by the Barnstable County Agricultural Society, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension and Cape Cod Chapter of the Mass Farm Bureau Federation to promote agriculture on Cape Cod.

National Honey Month
September is National Honey Month sponsored by the National Honey Board. A kit has bee provided with ideas for promoting our golden liquid. Contact us if you need ideas for any events this month. With all the media hype on CCD this year, the door is wide open for beekeepers and beekeeping articles, news releases, radio and television interviews, etc.

back to top

back to top Last updated 09/07/07