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Buzz Words - September 2011


Tuesday, September 13th, 7:30 p.m., West Barnstable Community Building, Route 149 & Lombard Rd, West Barnstable. Jan and Rebecca are planning a Q & A on the 2011 season. Bring your concerns, comments and curiosities for discussion. The attached questionaire will assist members as you review your notes.

From the President
The Farming Picture.
Gathered in the living room with full stomachs and slightly loosened tongues the Barnstable County Beekeeper’s board of directors is discussing the future of our more than healthy club. Topics range from Bee School numbers and slight changes in the educational format to the vagaries of the Queen Rearing Project.

Reappearing as part of the thread is the inability of our some of our beekeepers to take emotional control of their hives. Leap over the fear of failure and recognize that by buying into beekeeping they have become part of a bigger picture. The Farming Picture. The picture that is snapped when your eyes are closed and you may not be looking your best.

Irene was one of those snapshots. Last year’s summer drought condition was another one of those snapshots. There are many of those in our past and yet to come portfolios.

Read, read, read and make decisions by amalgamating the facts you uncover. The CLAMS library lending system has an easily available plethora of books, tapes and CDs all donated and previously pawed through by the BCBA members Keep abreast of changes in Integrated Pest Management methods. Make sure your equipment is kept in shape. If you continue to narrow the window of error you could find yourself with a bigger, better crop the next year. Be brave, Beekeepers.

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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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Barnstable County Fair Building
We have a building committee that will meet later this month to reside the Bee Building. Some of it is looking quite grim and a simple paint job is not enough. Clear clapboard will be added to the rear and both ends of the building, and left to weather. This will allow us to continue to post all those great hive photos and to display our honeys and wax products without having to redo the interior. All that will be needed now is a large sign on the roof proclaiming LOCAL HONEY. Perhaps prior to next year’s Fair.

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Fair Award Winners
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 both Saturday and Sunday. Give her a call at 508-274-8754 to help.

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Upcoming Meetings
October 29, 2011
Mass Beekeepers Fall Meeting, Colonial Hotel, Gardner, MA -- Details to follow
November 19, 2011
Southern New England Assembly of Beekeepers, East Lyme CT. for details

Dear Claire and Paul,
I noticed in the latest Buzz Words that on 10/29 the Mass Beekeepers are holding their Fall Meeting. Although the setting may be different I can only imagine the wealth of information and experiences this event will provide. I am writing this letter to encourage anyone who needs or wants expert advice/suggestions on beekeeping practices to attend.

Back in 2009 I attended Beekeeping School with my sons. Unfortunately my husband missed out on these classes. His interest in beekeeping and his approach to the girls, however, is far better than mine. So the question was, other than in texts, where could we find information for him as well. Lo and behold the Mass Beekeepers Association’s Annual Field Day was being held on June 25th. Since both of us had no commitments that day we decided to check out the offerings.

What a terrific decision that turned out to be! Yes, it was a bit of a drive but well worth it! To see the selection of presentations to choose from with demonstrations was just what we needed. The variety of speakers provided us with practical, useful information. We learned SO much!! The smoker contest was truly good for a laugh as well as technique…The food was tasty. The surroundings were beautiful. Overall it was a great day. And to boot, it was FREE!

Just looking to thank you for making us aware of these opportunities. Gratefully submitted by Ed & Judy Abril

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4-H Junior Beekeepers
The 4-H Junior Beekeepers worked at the county fair on Tuesday, July 19 at the 4-H kitchen all day (11 am to 9 pm.) The 4-H kitchen is a great fundraiser for the county 4-H program. The club was happy to work and it was a good day! The Pollinator Garden that the 4-H maintains at the fairgrounds won a "Best in Show" ribbon and the beekeeper scarecrow won an honorable mention. This ribbon added $28.00 to the bank account for the club, plus a good deal of happiness on the part of the club members who maintain the garden and constructed the beekeeper scarecrow. The club will be representing 4-H and beekeeping at the West Barnstable Village Fest on August 20th and Marstons Mills Village Day on September 11th. Please come and visit with us!

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More Fair Information
Marte thanked everyone for all their help: now we want to thank Marte for calling all those folks to work the fair shifts, to clear up the misinformation’s, for getting the tickets and parking passes, and for picking up the cash those many nights. Members that sold honey, skin products, wax products earned between $22.50 and $1099.80, for a total of $2864.70. The total sales to the club consisted of Honey Candy and Honey Stix for a total of $962.00. Thanks to all that answered those simple questions, sold and bagged candy and honeystix. We couldn’t have done it without you.

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Because the Blueberries are ripe
Honey Blueberry Bread Pudding
Spread honey on 6 slices of bread (French or Italian bread works best but any bread is OK even stale hamburger buns!) place in a lightly greased 1 ½ quart baking dish. Sprinkle with about 3/4 cup of Blueberries.

In a medium sauce pan heat 2 cups milk (or ½ & ½ ) over medium heat just until it starts to form a film on top; add ¼ cup butter, stir until melted. Cool to lukewarm & stir in 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and ¾ teaspoon of nutmeg. Pour over bread & bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until set.

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Claire’s Corner
As we creep into Indian Summer our honey season has ended and patches of brood will soon become smaller. Then those poor drones will be seen heading out, never to return, or forced over the edge of the landing board. Fewer mouths to feed will mean higher survival rates.

Many of you have never stopped feeding the hive due to late arrival, but now is the time for a thorough inspection of the hive. In most situations, the cluster will spend the winter in the top deep. This is where we should concentrate on what is there. By first frost the top deep should have all frames packed with pollen, nectar and capped honey. Yes, it is ok if your bees are still in a single deep. That is perfectly fine, but they should have NO UNDRAWN FOUNDATION in the top deep or in that single deep. Rotate your frames so that any undrawn are in the bottom deep. You might need to swap a few frames from another hive to do this.

If you are on the Upper Cape, you will have some nectar/pollen coming in from goldenrod and asters. This is perfect for winter stores; but, make sure you have room for that nectar flow in the top deep. Many hives headed by Italian queens are still laying massive brood patterns. Why not move a few of those brood combs down to the bottom deep and move a couple of empty DRAWN frames up so that the field bees have room to store that nectar.

Heft your hives from the back of the bottom board to get an idea of the weight. If it comes up easily (2 deeps) feed and keep feeding. It is time to switch to a 2:1 thick sugar syrup for comb storing. That is 5 lbs. of sugar mixed into 2.5 pints of very hot water.

We noticed that Stop & Shop has a generic 4# sugar for under 60 cents/lb. This bag could be nicely mixed in your feeding pail by adding 2 pints of near-boiling water. Stir, cool and flip over onto the inner cover.

Over-wintering and preventing starvation ranks as the single greatest challenge for our Cape beekeepers. We do anticipate a greater survival rate in those hives headed by our grant Russian-daughter queens. In theory, they should form a smaller cluster and consume few stores as the winter progresses.

More feeding tips and formulas will be forthcoming in future newsletters.

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Grant Update
As of this Labor Day weekend all 2011 Cape Cod Queens will have been hived. The last dozen were quickly snatched/purchased by members to requeen their hives. Needless to say we are anxious to hear of our over-wintering successes.

Although our numbers of queens (36) were below what we had hoped for, the entire season produced a wealth of information and experience for us. We have now added Carniolan and Buckfast races to overwinter and breed from in 2012.

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From the Editor
I have heard complaints about the quality of the bees we received this year as well as the aggressiveness of some. I have heard people say that we should have stayed with our previous suppliers. I have watched Claire agonize over the problems encountered in obtaining bees this year.

Because of some complaints from members about last year’s bee packages, Claire decided to try a different supplier as he dealt with a package producer that has been in business for over a hundred years. What a shock when the producer reneged on all package orders – due to a still unknown problem.

What our new supplier could have done was to say “Sorry, here’s your money back. I can’t provide bees this year.” But, he did not do that. What he did was to contact other sources in order to provide bees to folks in Rhode Island, Barnstable, Norfolk and Plymouth Counties. To our club alone, he provided approximately 300 packages and nucs. He had a harrowing six weeks and did the best he could to remedy what could have been a calamitous situation for BCBA members.

So, rather than complain, be positive. Learn how to be better beekeepers, how to replace your queens if you don’t like the hive’s “attitude”. Read, attend meetings, both local and regional, attend workshops, field days and hive openings. Open your hives and see what is happening (or not) in there. Learn how to be better beekeepers!!!

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Books and Videos
While at EAS, we found and purchased a few bee-related (what else) books and videos. Look for these in the CLAMS system shortly. Books

  • The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore by Hilda M. Ransome
  • Beeing by Roseanne Daryl Thomas
  • Colony – The Endangered World of Bees
  • Silence of the Bees
  • City of the Bees
  • Swarm Plus
  • Queen Rearing

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GOT HONEY???? NEED JARS????? Call Ed Osmun, 508-802-0509 to order your glassware. Ed has ½, 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 09/06/2011