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Buzz Words - September 2012

Our first meeting this fall, TUESDAY, September 11th, 7:30 p.m. at the West Barntable Community Building, Route 149, is meant to "extract" the good and challenging experiences of this past spring and summer with our hives. We are looking for you to bring your situations to the table so that we might all learn. We are always looking for treats and goodies to enjoy with a cup of coffee or juice.

From the President

“My heart stops because they are so beautiful.”
“I learned to bee kind and bee proud.”
”I learned how to lead, teach and help others.”
“I picked up a clump of bees…and I was insanely afraid but I stayed calm.”
“I had a fear of bees…until Bee U.”

These are some of the summative comments from a group of middle school students who just completed  Bee U: A Summer Youth Leadership Program, which this writer and a teacher from the Mattacheese Middle school ran this summer at the school.  The Bilezikian Family Foundation provided generous support for this undertaking.  For six weeks we studied beekeeping, cared for a hive on school  property, extracted honey, prepared healthy snacks and, by the way, learned a bit about ourselves. In the process students chronicled their learning through photographs, drawings and journals and then published their accomplishments in greeting cards and calendars. 

I wasn’t sure where this program would lead when we began in July-as Dr Seeley noted when he spoke in March on his book The Honey Bee Democracy, the behavior of hives (and of groups of people)e can be unpredictable.   However, in hind sight this is what I can say:

  • The hive certainly received far more inspections over the summer from curious students than I would have provided myself.
  • The students practiced writing and picturing skills that otherwise may have gathered summer time rust.
  • Many gained new levels of self confidence and ability to work well with others.
  • And we may have inspired a few to become the next generation of beekeepers here on Cape Cod

I think it was time well spent-for the bees, the students and for the adult leaders! --  John

From Julie Lipkin
Before I launch into my latest travails in the bee yard, this is the perfect time to relate a recent experience that I’ve completely  forgotten to share here: what I learned from a talk last month by Nebraska beekeeper Michael Bush, author of “Practical Beekeeping.”

Bush’s guiding principle in beekeeping comes straight from the Tao Te Ching: “The master accomplishes more and more by doing less and less until finally he accomplishes everything by doing nothing.” He is an advocate of what he half-jokingly calls Lazy Beekeeping. Among his recommendations:

  • Use 8-frame mediums exclusively; save your back, and all equipment becomes interchangeable.
  • Don’t wrap your hives in winter; it’s work, and it makes no appreciable difference.
  • Don’t paint your hives; it   may trap moisture in the hive, and it doesn’t extend equipment life long   enough to justify the work and expense.
  • Don’t waste your time   looking for the queen; there are other ways to determine   queen-rightness.
  • Don’t bother using   foundation; just give them a guide at the top of an empty frame and they’ll   fill it in themselves.
  • As a rule, don’t feed –  and just dry sugar when absolutely, positively necessary; just leave them enough honey over winter (1-2 frames of honey per each frame of   bees).
  • Don’t bother scraping off propolis; it promotes their immune system.

There was lots more, and all of it is available on his website. I don’t intend to adopt all his recommendations – after all, I’ve got only two hives, and not the hundreds he’s got, so I can afford to spend more time with my girls. But quite a bit of what he said made sense to me.  --  Julie Lipkin

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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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Hive Openings
The last in a series as the season winds down. Weather permitting we will have hive openings Saturday, September 8th, at 1 p.m. at the 4 locations (CCMNH, 869 Rt 6A, Brewster, park in lot across the street from museum; Soares Nursery,Sandwich Rd, East Falmouth; MA Audubon's Long Pasture, Bone Hill Rd in Barnstable; & John Portnoy, 60 Narrowland Rd, Wellfleet). Bring your questions and compare your hives with these resident hives. Are they ready for winter, or storing nectar/honey? Requeening is still possible, but time is getting VERY short.

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Something Interesting
Member Mark Simonitch has been wondering about wild bees and their susceptibility to CCD. He wonders how many wild bee colonies are known to exist on Cape Cod and wonders about the health of these colonies. Can they be monitored? Check out the following website: --wild bees-hint-solv/

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Upcoming Meetings
Saturday, October 6th, MA Bee and Worcester County Beekeepers bring you Jamie Ellis, for the great state of Florida, and James Tew, recently retired Ohio State Extension Beekeeper. For more info go to

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Google Group for B C B A
Thanks to a member with a career in hi-tech, and the initiative to establish a discussion forum, one now exists for the B C B A. Go to our website to access it http:// The bottom of the page has the invite.

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Claire's Corner
The Question of the Week When do we take our honey?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question (as with most beekeeping queries). It has been so encouraging to receive emails from a goodly number of newbees that they have full honey shallows. How many years has it been since we've heard this? Everything just clicked this Spring bees received on time, weather cooperated, bees were of good quality, and beekeepers paid attention to their hives.

So, when does the honey come off? We reviewed our mentor's publication (Hive Management by Dick Bonney). It is simple for some of us to say that we take it off as soon as it is capped. Demand forces some of us to harvest and extract; but, for a single hive owner the direction is a lot more complicated and really depends on the needs of the hive, your location, and available nectar sources.

As September approaches, goldenrod and aster are in full bloom. These blooms are a source of a dark, full-flavored honey. Maybe? Black Locust produced no nectar, nor did clethera (Sweet Pepperbush) so will there be nectar from goldenrod?

We would rather not wait and see. The honey shallows are coming off, leaving the hive to fill the empty cells with nectar for winter stores. If your hives have little weight, or but a few frames of honey/nectar in the top deep, it is best to remove the honey shallows. Partial frames, or small amounts of uncapped honey in the shallows can be scratched and moved on TOP of the inner cover. This honey will be moved down to the deeps by the bees. Feeding 2:1 sugar syrup might be in order to stimulate this hive to begin storing for the winter.

Overwintering with a honey shallow on top for added feeding insurance is a debatable practice. Been there and done it, but regretted it. Most often in the spring you will find the queen laying her initial brood in your honey shallow. Now what to do? As the bees move up in the spring (the reason we rotate deeps in April) you can place this honey shallow on the bottom board and remove when the brood hatches and the queen moves up. This creates more steps in the spring and we have a practice of not reusing honey frames where brood has been reared. Remember, you are dealing with a food product!

One final reason for removing honey shallows in the fall honey frames "contaminated" with brood will encourage wax moth damage as they just love the pupal skins left in the hatched cells. Honey frames only filled with nectar and honey will not invite wax moth damage when stored in winter.

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Unfortunately, Ed Osmun has notified us that he can no longer provide glassware to members.

However, a local firm, Cape Bottle Co. has honey jars in stock. They are in Manomet, take Exit 2 off Route 3, left off the ramp and they are behind the CVS on the left. 508-833-6307 or 888-833-6307 Mon-Fri 9 to 5

Also, with harvest season upon us, check with your local hardware stores. Many are having sales on canning jars. These can be used to sell your honey (but not to compete). .

back to top Last updated 09/06/12