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Buzz Words - September 2010

Next Meeting – Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 21st.  Due to elections, our meeting date was changed to the 3rd Tuesday for this month.  Board members will present a panel offering helpful suggestions to help prepare your hives for winter. If any members have particular tips or items used to help over-winter, please bring them along.

From the President
I went to the BCBA Bee School to study the art of beekeeping. The classes were informative, well-structured and filled with a sense of community…the common thread a social insect. I took a lot of notes, had used equipment and managed a two hive colony on my own the first year. I went to one hive opening at which at least thirty people were present. Much of what I had learned in the classroom fell into place on the heels of that hive opening.

I dutifully managed to make it to about one out of three BCBA monthly meetings. Always the formally presented topics were informative but often the open discussion time was the meat, where the practicalities and practices of beekeeping were discussed. Although hands-on experience and extensive reading is a must to becoming an informed beekeeper, latching on to a mentor is a sure way to flatten that learning curve.

Mentoring is the step beyond the open forum, a direct transfer of information. Your visual sense broadens and reinforces the aural cognitive. Besides which it is really fun getting to know one of those cranky old beekeepers.
–Jan Rapp

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Timely Tips of the Season
When your honey is capped and ready to harvest, plan ahead. It should be extracted within 24 hours of removal from the hive.
Why?  In this humid weather, even though the cells are capped, the honey will absorb moisture and could cause fermentation if supers are sitting around for any length of time. Secondly, Small Hive Beetles just LOVE unattended honey and will slime your frames in a short period of time.
   Depressing a thought as it may be, thinking  of winter preparation is in order. Critical issues to consider are:

  1. How old is the queen and how is her brood pattern?
  2. Are the frames all drawn? If not, move them into  populated areas
  3. Stores – are there frames of honey in the brood area? If not, consider feeding sugar syrup until the next nectar flow. BUT, be aware of robbing if there are other hives in the area.

This is a great time to build a nucleus colony, if you have a strong hive, to hedge your bets against a winter loss. Two frames of brood and bees, a frame of honey and pollen (or patty) and two empty frames for expansion. Add a queen 24 hours later. You will never learn if you do not try.

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Upcoming Meetings
Saturday, October 2, 2010 - MA Beekeepers, Fall Meeting and Honey Competition, Leicester
Dr. David Tarpy, North Carolina State University
Dr. Joe Latshaw, Latshaw Apiaries, New Albany, Ohio
Go to for further info.

Saturday, October 2, 2010 from 1 to 3 PM at the CC Museum of Natural History (CCMNH) in Brewster, the BCBA will co-sponsor the Honey Bee Jamboree with the Museum.

This is the fifth year that the CCMNH has its “Bee Program” and the Honey Bee Jamboree. In the Bee Program, trained volunteers open the three full size Museum hives and demonstrate and explain the inner workings of the hives to as many as 10 visitors. These hive openings are very well received and people sign up in advance. Practically all the openings on Tuesdays and Thursday in June, July and August were completely full and this year we had hardly any rainouts.

The Honey Bee Jamboree celebrates the Bee Program. The beekeeping and extraction hardware and tools will be on display . There will be honey tasting (on fresh French bread) and refreshments. For the kids there will be candle rolling and games.

So come and bring your family and friends and have a great day at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster on Saturday, October 2, 2010.

On both Saturday, October 2 and Sunday, October 3 the 2010 Barnstable County Harvest Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Barnstable County Fairgrounds. This is another good occasion for members to inform folks about our favorite insects and to sell our products of the hive. Members may email Marte @, phone at (508) 274-8754 (cell) to volunteer to man the booth for those 2 days for any of the 3 hour shifts. (10-1, or 1-4, Sat or Sun)

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Club Member Blogs

Julie Lipkin @

Mark Marinaccio @

Tamar Haspel @

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We Need Your Help
B.C.B.A. is a 37 year old beekeeping organization with over 250 members spread across Cape Cod and environs, and we can use your knowledge. Our mentor list is rather anemic with but a handful of beekeepers to lend a hand to newbees.

Here is what we need: a solid list of mentors willing to take a newbee under their wing. No resume is required, but we need folks with a few years of beekeeping experience. You should have seen eggs, larva, a good brood pattern, stored honey and pollen, perhaps a Varroa or two along with some Small Hive Beetle (and their larvae). That is perfect knowledge for assisting a newbee.

No one expects handholding; just an email, quick phone call, or let them visit YOUR hive when next going in for an inspection. Remember, it is a learning experience EVERY season for EVERY beekeeper.

So, what do you think? Will you lend a hand? Contact any member of the BCBA Board or Officers.

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4-H Beekeepers Club
The 4-H Beekeepers won a blue ribbon for their tri-fold display on beekeeping and pollinator gardens. Olivia Blackburne Rose ( a BCBA member) won 4 blue ribbons and a 4-H ribbon for creativity and exploration of ideas.

The Assembly of Delegates / County Commissioners Tour on 8/11 was a success. They visited our 4-H hive at the county fairgrounds and asked many questions. The delegates, commissioners, and League of Women Voters enjoyed the honey cupcakes with marizipan bees that Sarah Beth Gall, parent of 2 bee club members made.

The 4-H Beekeepers manned a booth at the West Barnstable Village Association, selling honey candy, honey sticks, and distributing BCBA promotional material and brought along the demonstration hive. It was a great day for all!

–Kalliope Erin Egloff

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Ask the Beekeeper
The board decided to utilize the first 10 to 15 minutes of each meeting to answer queries from the membership. Come prepared, to ask, or answer

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Grant Update
The Grant committee will meet later this month to summarize our successes and failures and to critique the program. Spring 2011, with hives coming out of winter, should put us well ahead of 2010. In late May and most of June, we should experience a plethora of queens for sale.

Three or four generations of queens this season were raised with varying successes. The lack of nectar created robbing and many cells were destroyed. With the nectar dearth it is senseless to attempt to raise a few queens as few drones remain in the hives for mating. Another lesson learned the hard way is to watch the dates carefully when starting queen cells. We all know that it takes 16 days for an egg to metamorph into a new queen. That just ain’t always so. We had 11 picture perfect cells and went into the cell builder colony to harvest on day 14. OMG! The cells were mostly opened and virgin queens were among the missing. Based on John’s research, if the ambient temperatures are high for several successive days, it can speed up the hatching.

Some newbees were fortunate in that they purchased mated queens from the Lower Cape. We will be forwarding an evaluation form to those members. It is imperative that we have a trail of our efforts.

Many photos have been taken and there are plans for a powerpoint presentation in January. And, yes, workshops will be held at the hives once the weather breaks in the spring.

Consider making a split or nucleus colony in May, BEFORE your overwintered hive swarms. We will show you how with one of the grant’s VT Russian daughters.

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Glories of the Garden at Highfield Hall
B C B A has been invited to join Paul Thanks to Leslie, Marte, Malinda, Connie, Tom and Claire for representing B.C.B.A. at Falmouth’s Highfield Hall End of Summer Festival. Even with threatening rain, a steady parade of attendees stopped by our display, attempted to find the queen and left with snippets of the incredible honeybee’s life.

Thanks also to the 4-H Beekeepers for spreading the word at last week’s West Barnstable Village Fest and at the upcoming Truro Agricultural Fair this Sunday. And, also to those that participate in the various Farmer’s Markets on Cape Cod, selling honey, candles, and skin creams.

The more of these little festivals we participate in, the more the word spreads, and our bee school classes continue to burst at the seams.

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Claire's Corner
At the September meeting, members will present helpful hints on successful wintering of our honey bee hives. Realistically, this should have begun this spring during each trip to the hive. Most critical is the strength of the queen and the storing of nectar and pollen. So, here we are in some areas with queens that have stopped laying, no drones (or very few) left in the hive, and no nectar being cured for winter feed.

This starving situation was brought to light by member’s digital photos questioning why they had a pile of dead or dying bees on the stoop and on the ground in front of the hive. Also during inspection of the VT Russian mother queen nucs, we noted they had stopped laying and all frames in the 5-frame nucs were bare of any nectar. They were moved to a remote area and fed sugar syrup and a piece of pollen patty. Within 4 days our queens were laying and back to normal.

Many of you will have plenty of capped honey in the deeps, depending upon your location. Other members will need to feed. This, of course, raises many new questions as you may have honey supers on that are partially filled. You will have to decide what direction to take based on your hive’s needs. In some cases, with hives with no weight, we have moved the honey supers with honey over the inner cover in hopes that they will “rob” it out and move it down to the deep. And, of course, start feeding! Waiting another week or two could be risky. Although some goldenrod has bloomed, and bloomed early, with no nectar, there are other species yet to bloom. Think about how much you will accomplish if you leave the house with an empty stomach. A honeybee needs a sip of nectar/honey before she leaves the hive to search for nectar or pollen. She needs her carbs for energy. Anticipating these needs, feeding the hive a 1:1 syrup to start, should stimulate a collection frenzy within the next wave of blossoming goldenrod.

We have found it to be a risky procedure to feed just a single hive in an apiary/yard with others. It is best to treat them all equally as once robbing begins during a dearth, it can spell the demise of a hive.

Keep in mind that your cluster will spend most of the winter in the TOP DEEP and that is where your honey should be stored. Depending on the race (NWC) some bottom deeps may be quite empty as the days shorten. If you have any undrawn foundation in the TOP deep, move it down and move a drawn frame up. This will help the cluster maintain a more constant temperature throughout the winter and not have cold feet on foundation. And, this is why we suggest that good wintering preparations begin in the spring. As your hive populations increase, you should be moving the undrawn frames in toward the center and the drawn frames out to the edges.

There is a lot to discuss at the September meeting, but in the meantime see how your hives compare with the scenarios presented above. Just another challenge in the the year of the honey bee.

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First Beehives In Ancient Near East Discovered
This June's Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reports that the researchers that found the 3000 year old apiary in the Iron Age city of Tel Rehov (Israel), the oldest known commercial beekeeping facility in the world, have determined that the bees kept there were from Turkey hundreds of miles away. This is a very special discovery because there is no evidence from before for bringing any kind of animals from such a distance, especially bees, which represent a quite complicated & sophisticated type of agriculture. This would imply a commodity trading of bees. Italian bees that were imported into the US in the 1860's, were considered a first back then. The ancient hives were made of straw & unbaked clay in cylinders about a yard long & a half a yard in diameter, with a small hole in one end for the bees to enter & a door with a handle on the other end to extract the comb. They hives were placed side by side & stacked three deep. They were only preserved because of an intense fire that destroyed most of the city and baked the hives hard. It is estimated there were 100-200 hives in the central part of the city with 1.5 to 2 million bees. Entomologists who studied the bees remains found in the hives, determined the bees were not native to Israel, but were closely related to Anatolian bees now common in Turkey. Such bees generally require a cooler wetter climate than Israel, suggesting they were imported rathered than captured in the wild.

–Leslie L.

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Ode to a Bee Charmer

An unexpected swarm
Didn't cause me any alarm
But gave a sense of awe
That I saw
One of nature's glories
That became my story!
So beekeeper Andy
And what a dandy
Was so completely handy
Taking charge
Of a rather large
Very much alive
Active hive!
With all of his expertise
He captured those honeybees
And now they are flying free
So hip hip hooray
He saved the day
Giving those bees a chance to pollinate
before it became too late
We sing praises on high
To this wonderful guy
Who saves the hives
So flowers and veggies can survive!

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Safety Tips - Not beekeeping related
How to achieve good vision while driving during a heavy downpour. This method was told by a Police friend who had experienced and confirmed it. It is useful...even driving at night. Most of the motorists would turn on HIGH or FASTEST SPEED of the wipers during heavy downpour, yet the visibility in front of the windshield is still bad......

In the event you face such a situation, just try your SUN GLASSES (any model will do), and miracle! All of a sudden, your visibility in front of your windshield is perfectly clear, as if there is no rain.

Make sure you always have a pair of SUN GLASSES in your car, as you are not only helping yourself to drive safely with good vision, but also might save your friend's life by giving him this idea.

Try it yourself and share it with your friends! Amazing, you still see the drops on the windshield, but not the sheet of rain falling. You can see where the rain bounces off the road. It works to eliminate the "blindness" from passing semi's spraying you too. Or the "kickup" if you are following a semi or car in the rain. They ought to teach that little tip in driver's training. It really does work.

This warning should be listed on the driver's seat sun-visor along with the airbag warning. We tell our teenagers to set the cruise control and drive a safe speed. If the cruise control is on when your car begins to hydro-plane and your tires lose contact with the pavement, your car will accelerate to a higher rate of speed making you take off like an airplane.

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Do you have honey to extract? Do you want to market it? Give it away to family, friends, neighbors? Are you going to use old pickle jars, jelly tubs, canning jars, or are you going to give your product the look of a professional beekeeper?

For Classic Honey Jars, contact Ed Osmun at (508) 802-0509 to place your order and receive your pickup date.

Thinking of adding another hive next season? Need to replace foundation? Need more shallows? Want a nuc? Want to buy a queen excluder? The club stocks all of the aforementioned, as well as hive tools, bottling pails, deeps, supers, frames, foundation for deeps, shallows and mediums. Just call or email Paul with your needs, as the club usually maintains enough equipment to build 5 hives. At this time of year, we increase foundation quantities in order for folks to replace. Brushy Mountain prices, and no freight charges.

Negotiations are underway with a senior member to build nuc boxes, so that members can have the equipment needed in order to utilize our local queens next season. We will have more info on that program in the next newsletter.

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